The region surrounding the Y-shaped wetland ignobly called Pulltrouser Swamp remained a populous area through the Classic period. Here you see K'axob in the context of the wetlands, the New River, and the major surrounding centers of San Estevan and Nohmul. Settlement survey research at San Estevan by Dr. Laura Levi and at Nohmul by Dr. Anne Pyburn has indicated that these two neighboring centers were even larger than is indicated on this map. Overall, this region probably supported a Late Classic population that numbered in the tens of thousands-much larger than the population living in this area today.
During the Classic period (A. D. 250 - 900), K'axob grew from a village of relatively undifferentiated residences to a group of sprawling residential compounds arranged around two pyramid plazas. Most of the platforms indicated on the site map were occupied during this time and substantial amounts of new construction took place during the Late to Terminal Classic period. Not a home to kings, K'axob nevertheless seems to have maintained and expanded on a core area of monumental architecture at which rituals-probably focused on ancestors and agricultural concerns-were undertaken.You may click on the map to view close-up areas of the structures.
The tallest pyramid of K'axob (Structure 1) reaches 13 meters toward the sky and is located at the north end of northern Plaza A. the final (and poorly preserved) phase of construction here took place during the Terminal Classic period.
An axial trench along the front face of the pyramid (southern side facing into the plaza) revealed a well-preserved stairway constructed during the early part of the Late Classic.
During Terminal Classic times, a structure was built on the west side of pyramidal Structure 1. Upon excavation by Angela Lockard, we discovered the poorly preserved remains of a multi-level fronted with a small projecting dais suitable for ritual performance or oration.
Not all houses of K'axob were built on top of platforms. Here, you may be able to detect a lens of speckled white in the stratigraphy of this test excavation. The remains of a white marl floor, this dwelling was built on a barely detectable natural rise. A delimited surface scatter of pottery sherds, lithic debris, groundstone fragments, and soft limestone foundation blocks surrounding this floor remnant reinforces the notion that this was a house-occupied during the Late Classic-rather than a special-purpose structure such as a workshop.
Excavation by Kimberly Berry on a small rise at the north end of the site revealed evidence of a low platform shown here. Beneath this level, however, the remains of a pottery kiln emerged-one of the few ever excavated in the Maya lowlands!
Shown here are two views of the double-chambered pottery kiln discovered at Operation 15, K'axob. Excavated into the soft limestone marl substrate, the kiln was built during the Late Classic and may have been used to fire a thin-walled type of pottery called Belize Red.
Recovered from the fill of the kiln and surrounding midden deposits, these sherds bear evidence of intentional shaping and use and were most likely used in pottery production. Further research into the function of these reworked sherds is currently underway by Sandra L. López Varela. For comparison, a contemporary potter's tool, made of wood, is shown on the right.
One of the most common stone tools retrieved from K'axob, the oval biface was a multi-purpose tool useful for weeding and hoeing as well as other tasks. Many of the "working" ends of these tools display the dull polish that results from turning the soil in the stone-free environment of K'axob. Remarkably, the oval biface is quite standardized in size and shape and matches the Northern Belize chert found farther south at the stone-tool production center of Colha.
Mortuary practices of the Late Classic people of K'axob show interesting parallels with the Formative period. Shown here is the excavation by Ben Thomas of a seated individual interred with an array of red monochrome pottery vessels (Op. 16, Burial 22).
A close-up view of one of the pottery vessels from Burial 22 of Operation 16 reveals that this monochrome red container bears the shape of a drinking cup-a distinctly Late Classic form.
Serving bowls and dishes elevated on tetrapodal supports are a hallmark of the Protoclassic and Early Classic periods (beginning around A.D. 100). This innovation is particularly well-represented at K'axob in the form of mammiform and zoomorphic foot supports. Here you see a small Early Classic bowl with tetrapodal supports in situ. This vessel is part of a mortuary assemblage from Operation 7 (excavated by Francisco Estrada Belli) and was associated with a large, basal flange polychrome bowl.
This illustration drawn by John A. Labadie shows that the four feet of the bowl were shaped and painted to represent a wild pig, locally called a peccary. Not only a delectable food source, the peccary is associated with the constellation Gemini and it is this astronomical significance that is most likely the subject of this ceramic art. A similar and more elaborate vessel was recovered from an Early Classic tomb at Calakmul. Discovery of artifacts such as this peccary vessel indicates that the people of K'axob were using the same cosmological reference points as elites who lived in large political capitals such as Calakmul.