Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Marie Danforth

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Dr. H. Edwin Jackson

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Dr. Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies


Cortical bone formation in the population of Tipu, a colonial visita site in Belize, was examined here to reveal factors of their activity and address the possibility of a status-based burial plan. To answer this question, this research examined the endosteal surface of the midshaft femur using digital imaging methods. The femora from 70 individuals were photographed and examined using the BoneJ plugin in ImageJ software. The cortical bone area was compared to additional variables, including sex, age, stature, pilastric index, and burial location. It was hypothesized that sex, age, and stature would correlate with cortical bone area similarly across the population, but that pilastric index and burial location would reveal distinct groups of individuals with differing activity.

The results show that sex is correlated strongly with cortical bone. Age also trends in the expected direction, but all other variables fail to demonstrate significance.

Therefore, no indication of elites within the cemetery can be determined. This could indicate that femoral cortical bone area is an ineffective measure of activity levels among social groups, necessitating other methods to evaluate status at Tipu. These results may also show a changing cultural landscape for the Maya with the infusion of Catholic traditions. However, the activity differences for those of varying social status may be too nuanced to significantly affect cortical bone area. Further research is needed on this population using different evaluation criteria to determine if a burial plan exists.