Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Christine White

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Fred Longstaffe

Joint Supervisor


The location of the Maya site of Lamanai on the New River Lagoon in northern Belize strategically situated it to participate in both coastal and inland trade routes and communication. This study of human burials at Lamanai examines the phosphate-oxygen isotope compositions of bone and enamel, which reflect drinking water and hence climatic zones, oxygen- and hydrogen-isotope compositions of modern local water, which provide a baseline for drinking water, and carbon- and nitrogen-isotope compositions of bone collagen, which reflect diet. The combination of isotopic, mortuary, osteological, and artifactual data is used to explore mobility at Lamanai during the Postclassic and Historic periods. While these data suggest some mobility, most movement likely occurred within the surrounding lowland region. The origin of Postclassic individuals buried in an unusual face-down position (VPLF) was also investigated. The VPLF group demonstrates variability in demographics and residential history, and its appearance possibly reflects an ideological shift.