Analysis of unique mortuary patterns is often used to evaluate the social lives of the deceased and also those of the living who placed them there. The Ventrally Placed, Legs Flexed (VPLF) burials at the site of Lamanai in Belize, dating to the Postclassic period (1000 - 1544), have been recorded as a Maya mortuary pattern since the late 1970's. While many researchers have analyzed these skeletal remains, comprehensive and cumulative individual analysis of the VPLF individuals from Lamanai has not been conducted. In this study, I will argue that the VPLF individuals in this study were local to Lamanai, or the surrounding region. To do this, the characteristics of 20 VPLF burials are defined and discussed in context with previously published bone and tooth stable oxygen isotope values. All data was collected from field notes and previously published resources, and then compiled in both a narrative and quantitative fashion. Specifically, the variables of arm position, leg position, head position, body orientation, presence of cranial modification, presence of dental modification, and associated artifacts were statistically tested using a chi-square test of association for correlations. While the correlation results were not statistically significant, the descriptive data did yield the identification of leg and arm positions that are characteristic of VPLF burials. This thesis specifically contributes to the future identification of VPLF burial burials by outlining commonly encountered characteristics operationalization of this unique mortuary practice. More broadly, however, this thesis highlights a general lack of consistency in bioarchaeological and mortuary data recording. Thus, this study is the first to compile VPLF mortuary information into one format, and therefore contributes to the study of bioarchaeology and anthropology by providing a foundation for comparison of future burials.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Izzo, Victoria, "Revisiting the Postclassic Burials at Lamanai, Belize: A Second Look at the Unique Ventrally Placed, Legs Flexed Burials." (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6024.