Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

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. Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Dr. Ed Jackson


This thesis explores juvenile health at the contact Maya site of Tipu in western Belize. The associated cemetery was excavated and provided a large and well-preserved population. Although Tipu has been a focus of many studies, few studies have focused on subadults and none on their cortical development, which can allow insight into access to necessary nutritional resources.

Some 108 femora belonging to individuals aged birth to 13 years with femora previously sectioned at midshaft provided the sample. External dimensions taken included diaphyseal length, circumference, medial-lateral diameter and anterior-posterior diameter. Additionally, cortical thickness was measured at four points, and 95 femora were analyzed for cortical area using the software BoneJ. It was expected that overall the reduced cortical bone maintenance would be seen as the result of the protein-deficient maize diet and differences by burial location might be present.

The results of this study exhibited a generally healthy population of juveniles. The diaphyseal measurements and cortical area articulated steady growth throughout childhood with the greatest velocity during infancy and adolescence. No differences by burial location are seen, however. Evidence of premature osteoporosis, as observed among the ancient Nubias, was not present. Overall, these results generally align with other bioarcheological inquiries done on the health maintenance of the subadult health status at Tipu. This study sheds light on a Tipu child’s experience of a Maya society during the time of the Spanish’s arrival and also provides a baseline of cortical bone data that might be used in future studies from the region.