The Settlement Patterns at Las Cuevas, Belize during the Late Classic Period
This thesis examines the settlement patterns located in the vicinity of the Late Classic Maya site of Las Cuevas, Belize, a midsized center found 14km southeast of the large polity of Caracol, in order to examine the site's usage as a possible pilgrimage site. Using LiDAR data gathered in April and May of 2013, models were run to examine the population of Las Cuevas and its relationship to its neighbor Caracol. Based on the results of this study into the surrounding populations using LiDAR-derived data, I argue that a low-density population surrounding the site core and beyond supports the interpretation that Las Cuevas functioned as a pilgrimage site. The sparse population base would not have been able to sustain a typical polity consisting of a royal household engaged in political competition or warfare. This thesis examines new territory in settlement pattern models and is the first time that the patterns surrounding an ancient Maya pilgrimage site has been investigated. It is my hope that my work will serve as a model for future research.