Table of Contents
Journal of Anthropology
Volume 2017, Article ID 8109137, 45 pages
Review Article

The Earliest Maya Farmers of Peten: New Evidence from Buenavista-Nuevo San José, Central Peten Lakes Region, Guatemala

1San Carlos University of Guatemala, 3a Calle “A” 2-65, Z. 6, SMP, Colonia Villa de los Alamos, Guatemala City, Guatemala
2Department of Anthropology & Sociology, Hollander Hall 309, Williams College, 85 Mission Park Drive, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Antonia E. Foias; ude.smailliw@saiofa

Received 27 June 2016; Accepted 26 September 2016; Published 15 February 2017

Academic Editor: Laura Del Puerto

Copyright © 2017 Jeanette E. Castellanos and Antonia E. Foias. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The origins and cultural affiliations of the first sedentary agricultural and pottery-producing communities in the southern Maya lowlands remain hotly debated. Here, we describe the discovery of a new early farming settlement at the small site of Buenavista-Nuevo San José on Lake Peten Itza in northern Guatemala. Evidence for a pre-Mamom occupation (1000–700 BC) at this site was found in the deepest fill layers overlying bedrock, including pottery diagnostic of this time period and the remains of a post-in-bedrock dwelling. Because the evidence for this early settlement is from secondary contexts and because four radiocarbon dates cover a broad chronological range, the best evidence for the pre-Mamom occupation consists of the ceramics recovered in the excavations. The closest links of the pre-Mamom pottery at Buenavista-Nuevo San José are with the Eb complex at Tikal and the Cunil complex of Cahal Pech, Belize, suggesting strong interactions between these early groups. The discovery of pre-Mamom pottery at Buenavista also suggests that the early farmers were more widespread than previously suggested. Furthermore, the presence of Olmecoid symbols incised on the pre-Mamom pottery at Buenavista-Nuevo San José indicates that these early communities were immersed in broad pan-Mesoamerican spheres of interaction.