Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Marie Danforth

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

B. Katherine Smith

Committee Member 3

Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies


The site of Tipu in west central Belize provided a foothold for Spanish missionaries in the 17th century. The effects of contact on adults among the 550 burials recovered in the cemetery there have been well studied, but the children have received less attention. Therefore, this study examined juvenile health through four markers: Linear Enamel Hypoplasia (LEH), a non-specific marker of health disruptions; Porotic Hyperostosis (PH), an indicator of anemia; and Periostitis, an indicator of infection. Some 131 individuals were evaluated using criteria developed by Steckel, Sciulli, and Rose (2002). The results were compared to Late Classic Copán (Storey, Marques Morfin, and Smith 2002).

For LEH, 47% Tipu juveniles exhibited episodes as compared to 85% at Copán. Periostitis at 7% was extremely low at Tipu whereas over half of the Copán subadults had lesions. In contrast, Copan had a much lower prevalence of PH than Tipu with rates of 16% and 84%, respectively. For most indicators at Tipu, frequencies increased with age of the individual, a pattern not seen at Copán.

These results suggest Spanish presence Tipu may have affected the overall health of the population in terms of diet, whereas Copán’s health was more likely affected by the expansive population size, a finding seen at several other earlier Maya sites, including Cuello and K’axob. Overall, it appears that the Tipu Maya were able to somewhat mitigate the effects of contact during the first 150 years until the site was forcibly abandoned by the Spanish in 1707.