Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 December 2021
The transition from the Late Archaic to the Late Early Formative period witnessed profound changes in the Maya lowlands. In addition to the establishment of the first settlements and agrarian communities, this critical phase of cultural development heralded the introduction of ceramics, saw changes in lithic technology, gave rise to inter-regional trade and exchange, and witnessed the introduction of a complex symbolic system expressed on portable objects. In this article, we synthesize data collected over the past several decades by various archaeological projects in western Belize to provide an overview of the cultural changes that unfolded during the Late Archaic to Late Early Formative period in the Upper Belize River Valley. We also provide evidence indicating that it was during this critical transitional period that we begin to see the establishment of several cultural traditions that became uniquely lowland Maya.