Holley Moyes


Holley is a doctoral candidate at the University at Buffalo. She is funded by an NSF-sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) grant for the development of interdisciplinary research in Geographic Information Science. She received her MA from Florida Atlantic University in 2001 for her spatial analysis of the Main Chamber of Actun Tunichil Muknal.

She is currently conducting research at Chechem Ha cave for her dissertation. Her interest is in the function of ritual in society. Current theories suggest that ritual may function both as a stabilizing force in social reproduction as well as a mechanism that may be utilized by agents in social transformation. A major theoretical question is, under what conditions would one expect ritual to function in one capacity or the other? By tracking changes in ritual practice over time within societies, and correlating these changes with social and ecological events, it is possible to shed light on this issue.

Holley's research project THE RITUAL USE OF CHECHEM HA CAVE, BELIZE: A STUDY OF CHANGES IN RITUAL PRACTICE OVER TIME, USING GIS, examines these changes over a 2000-year period of cultural history. Changes in ritual practice will be assessed by evaluating the:

1) spatial components of the periodicity of use,
2) frequency of usage,
3) feature constructions/cave modifications and
4) artifact assemblage.

Periodicity in the use of space within the tunnel system will be assessed using excavation data and radiocarbon dating. Use-frequency will be evaluated using microstratigraphic analyses. Feature placement, modifications to the cave, and the artifact assemblage will be correlated with these data to create a model of cave use that spans its cultural history. To analyze and illustrate the results of the study, a Geographic Information System (GIS) will be used to create a 3-D data model of the cave as it appeared at different points in time. Results of this study will be vital in linking ritual behavior to local social systems and ultimately to broader theories of social change.


Publications: Holley Moyes

In press "Cluster Concentrations, Boundary Markers, and Ritual Pathways: A GIS Analysis of Artifact Cluster Patterns at Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize". In In the Maw of the Earth Monster: Studies of Mesoamerican Ritual Cave Use, Edited by James Brady and Keith Prufer.

2002 "The Use of GIS in the Spatial Analysis of an Archaeological Cave Site", Jounal of Cave and Karst Studies. http://www.gisvisionmag.com/

2001 "The Cave as a Cosmogram: The Use of GIS in an Intrasite Spatial Analysis of The Main Chamber of Actun Tunichil Muknal, A Maya Ceremonial Cave in Western Belize". M.A. Thesis, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

2000 "The Cave as a Cosmogram: Function and Meaning of Maya Speleothem Use". In The Sacred and the Profane: Architecture and Identity in the Maya Lowlands, Acta Mesoamericana, Vol. 10, Edited by P.R. Colas, Kai Delvendahl, Marcus Kuhnert, and Annette Schubart, Anton Saurwein, Germany.


Publications: Holley Moyes and Dr. Jaime Awe

2000 "Spatial Analysis of an Ancient Cave Site". ArcUser, Vol. 3(4), pp.64-68. http://www.esri.com/news/arcuser/1000/cave.html

1998 "Spatial Analysis of Artifacts in the Main Chamber of Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize: Preliminary Results". In The Western Belize Regional Cave Project: A Report of the 1997 Field Season, Edited by Dr. Jaime Awe, pp.22-38, Durham: Department of Anthropology, Occasional Paper No. 1, University of New Hampshire.

1999 "Cultural Constructs and the Binding of Space: Ritual Pathways at Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize". In The Western Belize Regional Cave Project: A Report of the 1998 Field Season, Edited by Dr. Jaime Awe and David F. Lee,Durham: Department of Anthropology, Occasional Paper No. 2, University of New Hampshire.



For an application and more information about the project, please email: