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Travesía is an important pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the Ulua river valley of Honduras. The city reached its largest size in the Late Classic (500-850) but was founded earlier. How early, we don't know because of the destruction of the site in the 20th century and subsequent looting to find pieces for the thriving illegal antiquities market.

Doris Stone excavated in the city center of Travesía. Her photos of those excavations can be found in the photo archives of the Peabody Museum of Harvard University. Some of what she found is published in her book, The Archaeology of the North Coast of Honduras (1941).

The site itself is known for its abundant Ulua polychrome pottery, and especially for the Ulua marble vessels. Christina Luke studied the marble vessels in her Cornell University dissertation and her report listed below on the FAMSI website

Research by Rus Sheptak in 1981 using aerial photography showed that the site apparently consisted of 3 large raised platforms over 100 meters on a side. One of these platforms contained the city center, a plaza and ball-court made of cut stone architecture and plaster. Its here that Doris Stone excavated. The other platforms weren't investigating. In the 1940s the site was destroyed as part of a project to flatten the fields to plant sugar cane. Subsequently, the site has been heavily looted to collect the polychrome pots and marble vessels prized on the national and international antiquities markets. Until 2004 these regularly appeared for sale on sites like eBay, Christie's, and Sotheby's. Archaeologists have tried to place test excavations at Travesia to get information on how far back it was occupied, but frequently end up re-excavating a looter's pit rather than undisturbed soil. In a 2002 letter to the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), the President of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) noted that "...the major center of Travesia has all but disappeared from the map under the looter's shovel."[1] In March 2004, the U.S. Government imposed import restrictions on all precolumbian Honduran materials.


  1. ^ Kelly, Robert L. (2002). "CPAC Testimony: Honduras". Society for American Archaeology. Retrieved 2006-07-11. [dead link]


Luke, Christina (2003). "Ulúa-Style Marble Vase Project: Dissemination of Results". The Foundation Research Department: Grantee Reports. Crystal River, FL: Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc (FAMSI). Retrieved 2008-01-09. 

External links[edit]

Ulua Style Marble Vessel Project

U.S. Import Restriction on Honduran Precolumbian Materials