|Nearest town||Pusilá Abajo|
|First occupied||570 AD|
|Period||Early Classic to Post Classic|
|Excavation and maintenance|
|Responsible body||Belize’s National Institute of Culture and History|
|Dates excavated||2001 to Present|
|Notable archaeologists||Geoffery Braswell|
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (November 2011)|
Pusilhá is an archaeological site in Belize. The location of this Late Classic Maya urban complex along the east and west flow of trade afford archaeologist a historical view of a secondary Maya site. Contiuning excavation has changed the overall picture of Maya social and political relationships between larger and smaller cities. The research conducted at Pusilhá began at the biginning of the 20th century and contiunes to this day.
The site of Pusilhá is located in the Toledo district of Belize in the town of San Benito Poité. Situated between the Poite and Pusilha rivers that run east and west may have had an impact of why the Maya urban complex was built there. The site is also located favorably between the Caribbean to the south and the Maya Mountains to the east. Pusilhá was also situated in the region for the flow of goods and ideas from the central lowlands and southeastern periphery located in Honduras. With the major Maya urban sites of central lowlands at Caracol and Tikal and the southern lowland site of Copan, Pusilhá was possibly a major transfer point for economic activates in the whole of the lowland region
The initial site survey was conducted in 1927 by archaeologists from the British Museum Expedition to British Honduras that was led by Thomas Joyce. The survey led to the removal of the best preserved stelae from Pusilhá to the British Museum in London. The survey yielded dates and calendrical glyphs that were included in Sylvanus G. Morley’s discussion work The Inscriptions of Petén. Thomas Joyce also conducted an extensive ceramics evaluation in 1929. In the intervening 70 years very little research has been done at Pusilhá. This state of affairs has changed with research and excavations carried out by Geoffrey Braswell and the Pusilha Archaeological Project beginning in 2001. The excavation that has continued to present has exposed three major areas at the center of Pusilhá to archaeological interpretation.
|Classic Maya collapse|
|Spanish conquest of the Maya|
Pusilhá has a series of confirmed occupation date. It is known through ceramic analysis that this site is dateable to the late classic. A stelae found on site indicates a late classic occupation. According to Braswell, the current excavator of the site, “Stela P begins with the initial series date of 126.96.36.199.0 and contains a historical retrospective date of 188.8.131.52.18 (A.D. 570), implying that the kingdom was founded shortly before the beginning of the Late Classic period”. He does state that excavations from surrounding residential areas away from the complexes center seem to indicate an early classic occupation but additional excavation is required to confirm this for the rest of the site. Transitions in ceramics, burials and construction coupled with the usual cessation of inscriptions on stelae indicate continued occupation at Pusilhá through to the post classic. The last official date, which is a calendar round date, occurs at 184.108.40.206.3, or A. D. 798.
The initial excavation and surveys seem to show that politically Pusilhá was a second tier polity. The ceramics evidence showed that there were ties to Copan and Quirigua. It also seems likely that there were connections between Tikal and Caracol as those polities rose to prominence in the Petén. Based in part to the favorable location of Pusilhá along both east and west corridors of trade and the north and south axis of influence that had Caracol to the north and Copan to the south it seemed likely that the polity was politically dependent to one of its larger neighbors. But the current archaeological evidence indicates that Pusilhá maintained its independence.
The archaeological evidence indicates that Pusilhá was a traditional Maya "elite" led urban complex. There are known to be eight rulers that are associated with the Pusilhá emblem glyph from the late Classic period with a possible two additional from the Terminal Classic. All total there are 39 named individuals that have been discovered by the epigraphers in the hieroglyphic record. Of note is an individual who at first was linked as a ruler of Copan based on the artifactual record of that polity. k’ak’ u ti’ chan is the name of Ruler B of Pusilhá as well as Ruler 11 at Copan and was first ascribed to be the same individual. Further research has shown that they were contemporaries to each other that had different known parentage.
The site of Pusilhá has the one representation of bridge construction that has survived to modern time. The polity of Pusilhá also offers a look at the quantity and quality of the stelae available for study from a secondary urban complex. This site may represent an alternative method of looking at how the Maya govern themselves that is contrary to prevailing view of conquest and absorption of smaller cities into the larger cities in the region. To truly understand this site it must be stated that research and excavation is at a very early stage and that more work is required to fully understand the place that Pusilhá holds in the greater Maya world.
- Blanton, Richard W.; Gary M. Feinman. "The Mesoamerican World System". American Anthropologist (86): 673–682.
- Braswell, Geoffrey (2004). "The rise of secondary statesin the southeastern periphery of the Maya world; a report of recent archeological and epigraphic research at Pusilhá, Belize". Ancient Mesoamerica 15 (2): 219–233. doi:10.1017/s0956536104040143.
- British Museum Collection 
- Joyce, T. A. (Jul–Dec 1929). "Report on the British Museum Expedition to British Honduras". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 59: 439–459. doi:10.2307/2843895. JSTOR 2843895.
- Joyce, T. A. (Jan–Jun 1932). "1932 Presidential Address. The "Eccentric Flints" of Central America". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 62: xvii–xxvi. JSTOR 2843874.
- Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Sherry A. Gibbs (2006). "In the land of the Avocado: Recent Archaeological Investigations at Pusilha, Toledo District, Belize". Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 3: 271–286.
- Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Christian M. Prager and Cassandra R. Bill (2005). "The Kingdom of the Avocado: Recent Investigations at Pusilha, A Classic Maya City of Southern Belize". Anthropological Notebooks 11: 60–88. ISSN 1408-032X.
- Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Christian M. Pager, Cassandra R. Bill, Sonja A. Schwake and Jennifer B. Braswell (2004). "The Rise of Secondary States in the Southeastern Periphery of the Maya World". Ancient Mesoamerica: 219–233.
- Braswell, Geoffrey; Christian M. Prager, Cassandra R. Bill and Sonja Schwake (2004a). "Recent Archaeological and Epigraphic Research at Pusilha, Belize: Report on the 2001 and 2002 Field Seasons". Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 1: 333–345.
- Foias, Antonia E. (1996). "Changing Ceramic Production and Exchange Systems and the Classic Maya Collapse in the Petexbatun Region". PhD. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University.
- Sheptak, Russel N.; edited by Eugenia J Robinson (1987). "Interaction between Belize and the Ulua Valley". In Interaction on the Southeast Mesoamerican Frontier: Prehistoric and Historic Honduras and El Salvador. Bar International Series (327).
- Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Sherry A. Gibbs (2006). "In the Land of the Avocado: Recent Archaeological Investigations at Pusilha, Toledo District, Belize". Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 3: 271–286.
- Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Christian M. Prager and Cassandra R. Bill (2005). "The Kingdom of the Avocado: Recent Investigations at Pusilha, A Classic Maya City of Southern Belize". Anthropological Notebooks 11: 60–88.
Blanton, Richard W., and Gary M. Feinman, 1984. The Mesoamerican World System. American Anthropologist 86: 673-682.
Braswell, Geoffrey 2004 The rise of secondary states in the southeastern periphery of the Maya world : a report on recent archaeological and epigraphic research at Pusilha, Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 15(2):219.
Braswell, Geoffrey; Christian M. Prager, Cassandra R. Bill and Sonja Schwake 2004a. "Recent Archaeological and Epigraphic Research at Pusilha, Belize: Report on the 2001 and 2002 Field Seasons". Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 1: 333-345
Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Christian M. Prager and Cassandra R. Bill (2005). "The Kingdom of the Avocado: Recent Investigations at Pusilha, A Classic Maya City of Southern Belize". Anthropological Notebooks 11: 60-88.
Braswell, Geoffrey E.; Sherry A. Gibbs (2006). "In the Land of the Avocado: Recent Archaeological Investigations at Pusilha, Toledo District, Belize". Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 3: 271-286
Braswell, Geoffrey 2009 The cultural modification of teeth by the ancient Maya : a unique example from Pusilha, Belize. Mexicon 31(1):24
Culbert, T. Patrick, and Don S. Rice (eds.). 1990. Precolumbian Population History in the Maya Lowlands. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press
Foias, Antonia E., 1996, Changing Ceramic Production and Exchange Systems and the Classic Maya Collapse in the Petexbatun Region. PhD. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, Microfilms, Ann Arbor.
Prager, Christian 2006 Petroglyph found at the Classic site of Pusilha, Belize. Mexicon 28(3):45.
Sheptak, Russell N., 1987 Interaction between Belize and the Ulua Valley. In Interaction on the Southeast Mesoamerican Frontier: Prehistoric and Historic Honduras and El Salvador, edited by Eugenia J. Robinson. BAR International Series 327, Oxford.
Thompson, John 1928 Some new dates from Pusilha. Man xxviii:95.
T. A. Joyce 1932 Presidential Address. The "Eccentric Flints" of Central America The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 62, (Jan. - Jun., 1932), pp. xvii-xxvi http://www.jstor.org/stable/2843874
T. A. Joyce Report on the British Museum Expedition to British Honduras, 1929 The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 59, (Jul. - Dec., 1929), pp. 439–459 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2843895
- Raz jade mask, Pusilha http://www.wayeb.org/drawings/raz_jade_mask.png
- Stele http://www.wayeb.org/drawings/pus_st_d.png
- Pusilha Archaeological Project (PUSAP) http://dss.ucsd.edu/~gbraswel/pusap.html