The Ancient Maya and Mesoamerican Laboratories house a collection of archaeological materials from the sites of Nohmul and Santa Rita Corozal in northern Belize that were collected by the Corozal Postclassic Project between 1978 and 1985. This collection of materials consists of contextually collected artifactual remains from two structures at the site of Nohmul and from 46 structures/features at the site of Santa Rita Corozal. The artifacts include extensive ceramic collections that date from as early as 1000 B.C.E. through the 1800s, as well as lithics (chert and obsidian), ground stone, and osteological materials (human and faunal) that derive from general excavation contexts and from a large number of interments. All of these materials can be utilized for carefully designed research projects that can result in theses. M.A. theses have previously examined the manos and metates from the site, the Postclassic obsidian as it relates to market distribution, chert tools from two households, the context of an Early Classic round structure, and linear enamel hypoplasia.
The Nohmul and Santa Rita Corozal collections were originally excavated as part of Dr. Diane Chase’s Ph.D. dissertation (completed in 1982); two subsequent field seasons undertaken in 1984 and 1985 with funding from the National Science Foundation substantially augmented the collections (initial results reported in a 1988 monograph entitled A Postclassic Perspective). These materials are very useful to students seeking to learn how to handle, illustrate, and undertake archaeological analyses. Meaningful analysis and significant research can still be carried out on this curated collection, as seen from the MA theses already generated and the student publications that have resulted. Besides laboratory processing and analyses, the UNLV Maya laboratories are in the process of digitally formatting all of the archaeological records of both Santa Rita Caracol and Caracol for dissemination on the web.
The Ancient Maya and Mesoamerican Laboratories serves as a training ground for students wishing to participate in a field season in the country of Belize at the site of Caracol.