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Nora M. Lopez Olivares From the archaeological perspective, especially in the Peten region of the Maya lowlands, during the recovery of human skeletal remains one should consider all relevant factors. In addition to the primary process of burial, social and cultural factors should be considered, such as the past act of burying and the ritual that accompanied it, that is, the burning of copal or treatment of the cadaver. Additionally, one should consider cultural processes after interment, natural factors such as rain and animal disturbance, recent human activities such as excavations or looting, and other factors that occur before the remains come into the hands of archaeologists. Human remains are delicate materials subject to rapid alteration by the factors mentioned above. The remains most commonly present are dental fragments, which are valuable from the biological and sociocultural point of view, and are well suited for bioarchaeological and anthropological analyses. This chapter is translated from the Spanish by Scott Zeleznik. 8 Cultural Odontology: Dental Alterations from Peten, Guatemala The dental samples presented here come from several Peten sites. Between 1983 and 1985, 45 Uaxactun burials were found, although only half have dental fragments. Other samples presented here come from the southeastern Peten sites of Ixtonton, Ixcol, and Yaltutu, which were excavated through 1993. Sixty-three burials were recovered, but not all have dental remains. Most of the human remains are products of archaeological excavation. A few samples are remnants of looted burials where systematic excavations were subsequently performed and yielded dental fragments. Although pathological lesions have been detected in the dental samples.. in this paper I only focus on dental alteration as a product of cultural activities. Provenience Northern Peten Uaxactun This site has been well known from investigations made since the first part of the century. It 105 is situated in northeastern Peten close to Tikal, in a region composed of limestone hills that slope down toward the east. Uaxactun was investigated by the Carnegie Institution until 1937; afterward, between 1983 and 1985, it was investigated by Guatemalan archaeologists from the Proyecto Nacional Tikal. Uaxactun is composed of various architectural groups, including A, B, E, and H. These groups are filled with carved stelae, astronomical complexes, causeways, and multiroom palaces with vaulted roofs. The site is best characterized as a nucleated settlement with human occupation that increased from the Preclassic through the Early Classic and into the Late Classic period. The objectives ofthe 1983-1985 project were not necessarily carried out for the recovery of human skeletal material. Human remains were recovered in the process of excavations designed to understand the site. The most significant structures were not excavated, and the human remains recovered are from diverse contexts . The burials come mostly from plazas, platforms, transects, and stairs, and a few of them come from formal structures. Dolores Valley of Southeastern Peten The southeastern mountain zone is composed ofvarious geographic features. Mountain passes allow for communication between the plains of the middle Mopan River and the valleys that are toward Belize, Izabal, and Alta Verapaz. These geographical features must have influenced how exchange relationships developed and interactions among neighboring groups (Laporte 1992). Dolores, one of the largest valleys in the southwestern Maya Mountains, contains sites hierarchically composed of ceremonial areas and large, complex habitation zones. As a part of the activities of the Archaeological Atlas of Guatemala Project, new sites in the Dolores Valley of the southeastern Peten have been reported, among them are Ixtonton, Ixcol, and Yaltutu. 106 I Nora M. Lopez Olivares Ixtonton Ixtonton is the principal center of the Dolores Valley and covers a 7-km2 area with imprecise limits fixed only by physiographic conditions. To the north and to the east is the Mopan River, to the south are savanna and pine forests, and toward the west are karstic limestone hills with archaeological sites on their summits. The central zone contains all that one anticipates from an important lowland Maya center, including large plaza groups, ball courts, causeways , and architectural groups with specialized functions, for example, buildings of a religious character on basal platforms in two plazas. In the East Plaza is an astronomical complex, and in the West Plaza is a pyramidal structure on the south side. Many stelae were stolen before the site had been reported, and only two remain. Three causeways lie to the north, west, and south. Two ball courts are located in its ceremonial area and approximately 120 residential groups are integrated into a dispersed settlement pattern , with vacant zones that...


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