Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Radiocarbon chronology for early Maya occupation at Cuello, Belize


Radiocarbon dates from excavations at the prehistoric Maya site of Cuello, Belize, indicate occupation around 2600 BC in calendar years, antedating the hitherto earliest known occupation of the Yucatan Peninsula by some 1,700 yr and demonstrating that sedentary pottery-using communities in the Maya lowlands may be as early as any in Mesoamerica.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Berger, R., De Atley, S., Protsch, R., and Willey, G. R., Nature, 252, 472–473 (1974).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Suess, H. E., in Nobel Symposium 12: Radiocarbon Variations and Absolute Chronology I (edit. by Olsson, U.) 303–311 and appendix (Almqvist and Wiksell, Stockholm, 1970).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Coe, M. D., The Maya (Thames and Hudson, London, 1966).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Clark, R. M., Antiquity, 49, 251–266 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Hammond, N. (ed.), Archaeology in Northern Belize: British Museum–Cambridge University Corozal Project 1974–5 Interim Report (Centre of Latin American Studies, Cambridge University, 1975).

  6. Culbert, T. P. (ed.), The Classic Maya Collapse (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1973).

  7. Puleston, D., in Social Process in Maya Prehistory (edit. by Hammond, N.) (in the press).

  8. Cowgill, U., et al., Mem. Conn. Acad. Arts Sci., 17 (1966).

  9. Stuiver, M., Radiocarbon, 11, 618–621 (1969).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Stuiver, M., Radiocarbon, 11, 623–624 (1969).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Lawn, B., Radiocarbon, 16, 230 (1974).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Brush, C. F., Science, 149, 194–195 (1965).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. MacNeish, R. S., and Johnson, F. (ed.), Chronology and Irrigation, The Prehistory of the Tehuacan Valley, 4 (R. S. Peabody Foundation and University of Texas Press, Austin, 1972).

  14. Bischof, H., and Viteri, J., Am. Antiq., 37, 548–551 (1972).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Willey, G. R., and McGimsey, C. R., Pap. Peabody Mus., 49 (1954).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hammond, N., Pring, D., Berger, R. et al. Radiocarbon chronology for early Maya occupation at Cuello, Belize. Nature 260, 579–581 (1976).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing