The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Cultural Resources Management Archaeology: M.S.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Mark Muniz

Second Advisor

Robert Galler

Third Advisor

Debra Gold

Fourth Advisor

Brent Woodfill

Keywords and Subject Headings

Maya Culture Area, Cave Art, Guatemala, Archaeology, Survey, Rock Art


This final paper is original research developed and executed as a thesis study for the degree of Master of Science in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology at Saint Cloud State University (SCSU). ln addition to SCSU, this project operated in west-central Guatemala under the auspices of Proyecto Salinas de los Nueve Cerros [Salt Plain of the Nine Hills Project] from January until April of 2011. The purpose oftbis study was to record Nueve Cerros cave art, analyze its content, and go on to interpret its potential meanings and significance. Field survey recorded a significant cave art assemblage dispersed between three decorated caves, all located at a single hill in the Nueve Cerros karst ridge system. Scaled photographs of the 27 cave art portrayals were digitally enhanced and measured with Adobe Photosbop™. Measurements were exposed to statistics of variation, which facilitated interpretation along with a broad literature review. The majority of the cave art assemblage was interpreted as a single, cohesive component of a kind of symbolic behavior that has also been recorded elsewhere in the Maya culture area. This cultural cave practice was performed for non-material benefit.


I have many people to thank, but few to single out. First and foremost, I would like to thank my family for their solid example of hard work and diligence. To the MSM, thank you for encouraging me and for cultivating my interest in the precontact Maya culture area. Sincere thanks to Dr. Woodfill, site director of Proyecto SNC, for welcoming me onto the project. To the hard-working people of Nueve Cerros, bantiosh. Particularly to the Tox Tiul family, thank you for accepting me as your guest. Carlos and Seleste, thank you for the incredible photographs. Thanks also to Matt, Nancy, and Charley for teaching me some of the finer points of cave mapping and exploration. Without these memorable lessons I would not have been near as productive during the week you joined me in the field. Brooke, thank you so much for the amazing job you did on the replicative rock art painting work. Thank you to my thesis committee for your wisdom and guidance throughout. Special thanks to Dr. Muniz for your support and patience. Finally, thanks to all those who have provided me with critical inspiration and insight. All of you helped me to think very seriously about this final thesis paper.

This thesis is dedicated in loving memory to Joseph S. Wynne. May his legacy live strongly in us all.



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