Punta Canbalam in context: a peripatetic coastal site in northwest Campeche, Mexico

Bruce H. Dahlin, Anthony P. Andrews, Timothy Beach, Clara Bezanilla, Patrice Farrell, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Valerie McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Investigations at Punta Canbalam on the Gulf Coast of Campeche reveal it is probably the largest of several important but underreported trading sites on the pan-Mesoamerican maritime trade route. The coastline has been unstable for the last thousand years, subjecting the site to sea level changes and repeated episodes of beach erosion and redeposition. The relatively dense scatter of temporally mixed, highly weathered sherds and other artifacts on an exceedingly narrow, modern beach indicates that it is all secondarily deposited and that its original location was offshore. An interdisciplinary team is beginning to recognize clues in its environmental and cultural contexts as to where this peripatetic site was originally located and the extent to which it depended upon exchanges of salt, petty commodities from inland, and canoe-borne exotics from afar. This predominantly Terminal Classic and Early Postclassic site likely served as a port of entry for obsidian, jade, fine-paste ceramics, and other goods for the nearby inland city of Chunchucmil. It also probably supplied the interior with marine and estuarine food and ornamental and ritual products in exchange for inland agricultural products and other items.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalAncient Mesoamerica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


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