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Archeological Investigations in the Bay Islands, Spanish Honduras

Table of Contents Environmental History Explorations Roatan References

Explorations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Utila Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Black Rock Basin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Site 1, urn and skull burials . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .. .20

Site 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Brandon Hill Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Byron Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Big Bight Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

"Eighty Acre" and other sites. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

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The Boekelman Shell Heap Expedition while at the Bay Islands did their most extensive work on Utila, whereas we spent only our last 4 days there. As a result the following section is based primarily on the excavations of Bird and his companions, supplemented by own own brief reconnaissance. We visited and sampled all the main sites where they worked, and in addition each party visited certain sites not investigated by the other. William Waterhouse, of East Harbor, who justly bears the reputation of being the best guide on the island, was employed by both parties. The town of East Harbor is a very attractive place, and the officials and other residents were pleasant and hospitable. From Utila one gets a magnificent view of the mainland, and the great blue mountains of Honduras loom impressively in the distance. The island itself, while flatter and probably better for agriculture, is less picturesque than the others of the group.



The Boekelman Expedition was the first to do scientific work at these important sites, working as we did, from a vessel anchored in Black Rock Basin, which is one of the very few island harbors on the north shore. Both parties rather arbitrarily distinguished two sites (see map, fig. 2) to the west of Black Rock Basin, although for a mile or so along this low coral and sand shore there are a series of aboriginal occupation and burial sites. These have been considerably dug over by local treasure hunters, but there is undoubtedly still a great deal of undisturbed evidence to be secured.

To reach site 1 from the vessel (map, fig. 2) we rowed in a small boat to the west end of the basin. Landing here at a small native plantation, we walked west about half a mile along the low shore line, which consists of rough coral rock interspersed with occasional bits of sandy beach. The entire shore line is heavily grown up with large coconut palms. Within half a mile of the west end of the basin potsherds, conch shells, and other traces of aboriginal occupation appear, and these extend to the west with varying intensity for at least half a mile and perhaps father. Bird, in his notes, refers to a small shell heap about 600 feet inland from the beach, near site 1, and states that two former shell heaps in this vicinity had been burned for lime. The only sites we saw during our brief visit were on, or just back from, the beach.

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The ground at site 1 is about 6 to 8 feet above sea-level at the highest point. Beginning toward the water, Bird and his party ran a trench (trench 1, fig. 3) through the main section of the deposit. This revealed first about 12 to 18 inches of light wind-blown sand.

Fig. 2. - Map of east end of Utila Island
Fig. 2. - Map of east end of Utila Island.

Below this was a layer of black earth, mixed with sherds and other cultural debris, of varying depth (see fig. 3), and below this was white, un-mixed, beach sand. The layers were not always clear-cut or of equal thickness throughout, as the diagram indicates. I may add that digging here was extremely difficult, owing to innumerable palm roots heavily interlaced in the top levels.

Fig. 3. - Cross-section of trench 1, Black Rock Basin, site 1, Utila
Fig. 3. - Cross-section of trench 1, Black Rock Basin, site 1, Utila.

The trench indicates that the shore at this point had been occupied for a considerable period, during which a layer from 1 to 2-1/2 feet thick, full of broken pottery, fish and animal bones, and broken shells, had accumulated.

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Over this some 18 inches of wind-blown sand had been deposited, in the main by natural agencies. The burials here are intrusive into these deposits (see fig. 5).

The burials at site 1 were located by test pitting in the vicinity of trench 1. The rims of burial urns 1 and 2 were struck 18 inches below the surface. They were in the black mixed layer, but were surrounded by white beach sand (pl. 2, fig. 1). Burial urn 1 (pl. 3., fig. 1) is of monochrome red ware without any slip. It is 45 cm high, 26 cm outside diameter at mouth, and .5 cm thick in the middle portion. The vessel is not highly polished and is sand-tempered. It contained two skulls. The only attempt at decoration is a narrow line of punctate marks around the neck. Burial urn 2 (pl. 2, fig. 1) was similar to the last in both size and type. It contained one small stone mortar and a number of human bones, including three slightly word molars, one scapula, one clavicle, three skull fragments, and a few ribs and leg bones, some of the last being charred. The rim of burial urn 3 was within 5 inches of the surface. Both rim and neck were broken off, and the remainder of the pot was cracked (pl. 2, fig. 1). The vessel was not preserved but in general type seems to have been very similar to urns 1 and 2. The earth over this urn was loose, and it appeared to have been disturbed within recent times, as all the human bones were freshly broken and very much mussed up. It contained fragments of skull and other human bones and the broken leg from another pottery vessel.

The arrangement of these urns (1-3) and the adjacent skull and bundle burials is shown in the photographs (pl. 2) and Bord's diagram (fig. 4). Just south of urns 1 and 2, about 18 inches below the surface, was a group of seven skulls closely packed together, all facing south. The mandible accompanied each crania in its normal position, and these were the only skulls found in that condition at the site. Skull 1, broken while in the earth, was that of a child with primary teeth still in position but secondary teeth formed in bone; skull 2 had peculiar pockets in the bone; skull 3 had the third upper molar just formed in bone (discarded); skull 4 had no teeth in the upper jaw and the secondary first molar, left side, lower jaw, just emerging; skull 5 was that of an adult male with worn molars; skull 6, no data; skull 7, a child, same state of development as skull 1. A short distance east of this group, and at the same depth, were five other skulls, all facing south. These were 2 feet west of burial urn 3 (see pl. 2, fig. 1; fig. 4). The three skulls to the north had two femora in front of their facial portions. Behind the two skulls to the south were six or seven femora laid roughly north and south (fig. 4).

Plate 2

Plate 2 - Skulls & Burial Urns - Black Rock Basin, Utila
Plate 2

Black Rock Basin, Utila
1. Burial urns 1-3 and skulls.
2. Skull burial.
3. Burial urns 7-8 and skulls around burial urn 6.

Plate 3

Plate 3 - Burial Urns - Black Rock Basin, Utila
Plate 3
Black Rock Basin, Utila
1. Burial urn 1.
2. Burial urn 7.
3. Burial urn 8.

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Another group of urn, skull, and bundle burials occurred close by. The rim of burial urn 4 was within 6 inches of the surface (fig. 5). It was protected on three sides by vertically placed pieces of coral rock, the ends of which projected slightly above the ground, and on the fourth side by several large fragments of other pots nested together.

Fig. 4 - Diagram of skull and urn burials 1-3, Black Rock Basin, site 1
Fig. 4 - Diagram of skull and urn burials 1-3, Black Rock Basin, site 1.

Fig. 5. - Cross-section diagram of burial urn 4, Black Rock Basin, site 1
Fig. 5. - Cross-section diagram of burial urn 4, Black Rock Basin, site 1.

The bottom of urn 4 was 22 inches deep, in the black occupational stratum. The rim, neck, and shoulders were broken away, and a piece 6 inches in diameter was missing from the bottom of the vessel. This urn, generally similar in type to the others, was not saved.

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The vessel was filled with sand from the surface and contained only a few fragmentary human bones, six or seven vertebrae, lower leg bones and a section of femur. Beneath the urn was a partial bundle burial.

Burial urn 5 was close to 4 and of the same type. The protecting coral slabs projected above the surface, and a rectangular grinding stone with rounded edges was to one side. The bottom of the urn, which was not saved, was 24 inches below the surface and had a small, perfectly round hole made from the inside in the bottom. It contained two adult skulls, a complete skeleton, and a few fragments of a child's cranium and jaw.

The disposal of skulls around burial urn 6 was particularly striking (pl. 2, fig. 3; figs. 6, 7). The urn, which was not saved, was badly broken in its upper portions and was mixed with numerous other sherds in the top soil.

Fig. 6. - Horizontal diagram of skulls and burial urn 6, Black Rock Basin, site 1
Fig. 6. - Horizontal diagram of skulls and burial urn 6, Black Rock Basin, site 1.

The rim must have been within 6 inches of the surface. Beach sand had sifted about the pot and skulls, and the original pit had evidently been filled with it. The bottom of the urn rested in the black occupational stratum 28 inches below the surface (fig. 7). Coconut palm roots were growing through the urn and the skulls. The burial urn itself contained the skull and disarticulated bones of one individual, evidently an old man. Around the urn were seven skulls, all apparently adolescents of about the same age. With one exception (fig. 6, skull 7), all were facing clockwise. The tops of the skulls were 10 to 13 inches below the surface. There were two other skulls (8, 9), with slightly heavier supraorbital ridges, to the west of the burial urn (pl. 2, fig. 3); these faced south.

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All the skulls were filled with beach sand composed largely of minute shell fragments. Underneath burial urn 6 was a mass of closely packed human bones in a pocket of white beach sand (fig. 6); (these are not indicated in Bird's original vertical diagram, but I have added them in accord with his description). As fare as could be determined, this mass included 14 femora, 14 lower leg bones, 14 upper arm bones, 7 jaws, 7 pelvic portions, and a disproportionately small collection of ribs and vertebrae. Slightly above the burial urn and to the north was a bundle of long bones, apparently from the same adolescent individuals whose skulls were placed around the burial urn.

Fig. 7 - Cross-section diagram of skulls around burial urn 6, Black Rock Basin, site 1
Fig. 7 - Cross-section diagram of skulls around burial urn 6, Black Rock Basin, site 1.

Burial urn 7 (pl. 3, fig. 2) was 3 1/2 feet northeast of urn 6 (pl. 2, fig. 3). Like all the others, it is of monochrome, red-brown ware, with sand tempering. The vessel is 42 cm in height, with an outer mouth diameter of 27 cm; in thickness it varies between 1 and .5 cm. It has more of a neck than urn 1 (pl. 3, fig. 1) and an obliquely everted lip. The rim was 10 inches below the surface with the bottom resting in the black occupational stratum. The upper half was full of sand, then occurred a single layer of potsherds, and below this were two skulls, one adolescent, the other more mature, both very poorly preserved. In addition, there were three vertebrae, two fragments of pelvis, and a small mandible, apparently that of the adolescent skull.

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Burial urn 8 (pl. 2, fig. 3, fig. 3) was 1 foot north of urn 7 on the same level. This vessel has a pleasing shape with considerable neck but a small everted rim. It is 34 cm in height, 28 cm in outside mouth diameter, and .8 cm thick at the neck. Half of a similar urn had been placed over the aperture of urn 8 but had broken into small fragments. Urn 8 contained two adult skulls (only one of which saved) and a child's skull with holes in the forehead. No long bones were present, but there were numerous vertebrae and ribs; two vertebrae, fused together, were preserved. One of the adult skulls was that of an old person and lacked any teeth in the maxillary.

Bird's material from site 1 is segregated according to depth. Since the specimens preserved include only about 40 potsherds and 2 other artifacts, the results thus obtained, although valuable, are not striking. The ceramic material, with the exception of the burial urns previously described, is all broken and of a monochrome, red to buff, sand-tempered type. The upper layer extends from the surface to a depth of 18 inches. This very roughly coincides with the wind-blown sand stratum, although, as figure 3 indicates, the respective depths of the strata were variable. From this upper layer there are at hand some 17 sherds, including 10 rim sherds. One of the latter is from a thin, highly polished, red bowl, with one perforation for "crack lacing". three are decorated with incised, punctate, and relief adornment, and one has a raised and notched horizontal band on the neck. Two large sherds come from big vertical jars with slightly flaring necks.  One of them is decorated by an incised panel, 6.3 cm wide, below the neck, having a St. Andrew cross with punctate marks where the lines cross; the other has incised double scrolls with four punctate marks diagonally through their centers (compare pl. 24, a). Two sherds from simple open bowls are both incised, one with an elongated double scroll, the other with irregular crisscross lines. One rim sherd is identical with the burial urn rim type (pl. 3, fig 2). There are two thin (.5 cm) body sherds with linear and curved ornamentation by incision and relief. One basal fragment with a bored hole 2.5 cm in diameter is similar to the burial urns. There are two hollow conical feet, one plain with three irregular perforations and the other decorated by incisions, punctate marks, and raised vertical strips, on which are other punctate marks. Two rim sherds have vertical loop handles; one is plain and the other has crudely incised lines extending its length. The latter handle is from a vessel with two raised scalloped bands extending around the neck where the handle is attached. The only non-ceramic artifact from this stratum is a much battered celt (8.5 cm long, 3.6 cm thick) of hard gray stone.

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Some 25 sherds are listed as coming from a depth of 18 to 28 inches, a layer roughly corresponding with the black occupational stratum. Of these, four are rim fragments of small, plain, open bowls; eight are rim fragments from wide-mouthed, plain vessels with a short neck and flaring lip; and two are rim sherds from straight-walled, probably annular-based vessels without decoration. Only two sherds are decorated; one well-polished fragment is from a straight-walled vase and has a step design between double incised lines around the neck; the other is from the same type of vessel but of a coarse red ware with incised square and scroll designs. There are two vertical loop handles, one of which has ridged edges. Three hollow conical feet are cylindrical down to a sharply tapering point; they are deeply incised and punctured, suggesting some sort of a conventionalized head. One conical foot is long and slender (7.5 cm in length), and one is a hollow hemisphere without decoration. All the feet come from medium-sized vessels. The only other artifacts are a saddle-shaped piece of pottery, possibly a burnisher; a notched pottery net sinker (?) 2.5 cm in length; and a perforated cowrie shell from the interior of burial urn 1. There are also considerable number of shark and other fish vertebrae and unworked shells in Bird's collection, but it was not possible to have these identified in the time available for study.

Our own collection from this site is a mere sample of 20 sherds, all of the red to buff monochrome ware and very similar to the above. They were obtained from test pits in a previously disturbed area and hence have no stratigraphic value. Three sherds have the raised band with scallops or points around the neck where it joins the body. There is one entire rim of a small urn 23 cm in outside mouth diameter, with a probable diameter of some 25 cm for the entire vessel. It has a somewhat constricted orifice and a low, flaring rim. There are two other rim sherds from similar vessels. Two cylindrical pointed feet and one conical foot, as well as one loop handle, are similar to the above. About half the sherds have a rather simple incised designs. The remainder are plain and, as a rule, coarse in texture. Besides the potsherds we obtained a flat pendant of dark green talc (3.5 cm in greatest width), which has a conventionalized jaguar face incised on one surface (Pl. 11, h). A round disk (9.5 cm in diameter and 2.5 cm thick) of rhyolite porphyry with rounded edges and a biconodont perforation 2 cm in diameter suggests a mace head, but the shaft hole is very small for such usage. A section of a prismatic flake knife of obsidian (7 cm long) and two smaller fragments were also found (fig. 15, a, b). One section of a polished cylindrical roller pestle 12.5 cm in diameter was noted.

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Bird states that the decorated sherds came from the upper levels and that all the sherds from the lowest level were plain. The foregoing analysis of the collection bears out, in the main, his own observations made at the site. Some decorated ware does come from below the 18-inch level, but it is markedly more abundant above than below this line. Next to the nature of the urn burials, this is apparently the most significant result of the excavations at this site.


This concentration of cultural detritus, apparently part of the same general deposit, is located 400 feet west of site 1. Guided by Mr. Waterhouse, we visited the site the same day we examined site 1. The deposit is made up of broken pottery, shells, fish remains, etc. Fragments of human bone were noted, but no complete urns or burials were encountered by either party. Bird dug a cross trench here (trench 2) and also a test pit. There are no diagrams of these excavations. This trench apparently reached a depth of between 4 and 4 feet, the upper 18 inches or so consisting of somewhat intermixed wind-blown sand, the next 3 feet of black occupational debris, and below this the unmixed beach sand. Bird states that potsherds were very abundant, all being plain, unpainted ware, usually red but sometimes black at the center with red surfaces. He also observes that the sherds in the upper refuse had ornamented knobs and legs with some raised decoration, whereas the sherds from the lowest level lacked decoration.

As at site 1, the material from this site that was saved is in large part allocated as to depth. The largest amount of material, however, comes from the surface down to a depth of 20 inches, the material preserved from below this depth being almost negligible. Probably the collection saved was definitely selected to show the more complex pieces. From the surface down to 20 inches come 20 fragments of hard, well-polished bowls or jars, all more or less smoke-blackened. A few have loop handles, and several are decorated with designs made in relief or by incision. Some 25 sherds come from small to medium, plain jars with constricted necks and low to medium flaring rims. One or two have straight necks, and one open bowl has concave vertical walls and a rounded bottom. Another group of highly polished, thin brown sherds come from a vessel with a concave "dimple" in the bottom. One solid, vertical loop handle, and several broad loop handles decorated with raised and sometimes notched ridges, are present. There are several decorated feet, two of which are hemispherical with holes suggesting eyes and with "noses" in relief, and one represents the head of a snouted animal, possibly the tapir.

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From 28 to 26 inches come five sherds of dull brown ware; a large fragment (7.5 cm high and something over 30 cm in diameter) of an open-mouthed bowl; and four other rim sherds with low flaring rims. One of the latter is of the urn type. None of these pieces is decorated.

The non-ceramic material from trench 2 includes two very shallow, ovoid "dishes" of pumice, of which the longest is 17 cm in length. The exact depth and the purpose of these pieces in uncertain. There is also one rectangular "burnisher" of pumice, 7 cm in length. One leg of a hard, gray, long metate (upper layer, surface to 18 inches), and sections of two "roller" stones, one of polished granite (upper layer, surface to 18 inches) and one of white coral (depth uncertain), were recovered. One small fragment of an obsidian flake knife (from a depth of 10 to 20 inches) is present. Of shell artifacts, a much worn celt with a sharp edge, manufactured from the ridged portion of a conch, comes from a depth of 36 inches. There are nine smoothly worn fragments of cowrie and conch shells from various depths, which suggest tools, but they also occur in the unmixed, underlying sand, and their form probably results from wave action.

The test pit also yielded considerable broken pottery. From the upper layer, surface to 12 inches, there are 12 rim sherds from medium to small vessels with constricted necks and low flaring lips. Two of these have incised designs around the neck, and two of the larger rims approach the urn type. Two large fragments are from thick, open bowls; one fragment from a flat, slightly concave plate; two vertical loop handles; and three decorated legs are from this level. One of the last is a long, hollow cone (10.5 cm in length) with a compressed tip and seven perforations of various sizes; one is similar but shorter with a flattened tip; and the last is hemispherical with four perforations (one at the tip) and is decorated with two small "adornos" in relief. From a depth of 12 to 15 inches come four coarse, dark red rim sherds, two being from small open bowls and two from jars with slightly flaring rims. From a depth of 21 to 27 inches come two rim sherds, both plain, one from a small open bowl with slight contraction around the neck, the other from a globular vessel with a low, sharply everted rim. One other plain red potsherd comes from this level. The only non-ceramic artifacts from this test pit were a few bored shells and shark vertebrae. In addition to the material just described, Bird's collection from site 2 contains a certain amount of pottery from uncertain depths.

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This can be described in conjunction with the small collection that we made at the site. Fragments of large, thick, open-mouthed bowls are fairly common, as are those of medium-sized jars often with vertical loop handles. The handles are both thin and flat, and round and solid, in type. A number of sherds of polished brown ware also occur. Several snouted lugs suggest tapir or peccary heads, and one is too conventionalized to permit even a guess as to the animal represented. On the whole, however, elaborate lugs are not particularly characteristic of any of the Black Rock Basin sites. About 20 pieces are feet from tripod vessels. The majority of these are long (10.5 cm being the greatest length) and conical, with six perforations into the hollow interior, and usually with circling incised designs and little "adornos" in relief. The tip is usually compressed but sometimes modeled to suggest two legs or some other form. One is a hollow, round ball with two perforations; and four more are of the same type but are decorated with "adornos", more perforations, and incisions. The hollow legs nearly all have, or did have, gravel rattles in them. Two feet are solid and much conventionalized; one of these is of the short cylindrical type with punctate decoration, the other suggests an animal head with two punctate eyes, three punctate teeth, and a button-like nose. More or less elaborate tripod geet, it may be added are apparently more usual here than are lugs.

Amidst the occupational debris were many conch, whelk, and other shells, both large and small. The conch shells usually have been broken on the side in removing the meat. Mammal bones include the manatee and probably other not identified. Turtle and iguana remains are rather common. Fish bones are numerous, especially many varieties of shark vertebrae, many of which have been perforated. Bird has considerable amount of such material (A.M.N.H. collections) that has not been analyzed. Our much smaller collection yielded the following: several fish vertebrae, probably those of the jew fish (Promicrops); the jaw of a puffer fish (perhaps Diodon), and two jaw fragments of the parrot fish (Scarus).


On a rocky ridge not far to the southwest of Pumpkin Hill (see map fig. 2) is a deep cave of which one hears as soon as "relics" are mentioned to anyone from the islands. According to stories from many sources this remarkable cave penetrates down to salt water, or according to another version extends all the way to the southeast shore of Utila. A golden cup, a rusty sword, and a crucifix, as well as a cache of rifles, are among the finds reported from here, and the gold cup incident at least is apparently true. (See Rose, 1904, p. 147.)

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Incredible tales of magic and buried treasure float from mouth to mouth around the islands, and a folklorist would have a rich field for investigation among both whites and negroes, While no "treasure" finds other than this one gold cup (apparently looted from some church) ring true, the rumors have their inevitable concomitant in a senseless destruction of Indian sites in the fruitless search for gold.

Brandon Hill Cave is a beautiful place, and wherever its winding limestone passages may actually lead, they are extensive enough to satisfy the most ardent cave explorer. The mouth of the cave is difficult to reach, but having once attained it, one may sit at ease in the cool entry chamber. There is about o foot of dust on the floor, which has been much turned over, but we were able to find two pieces of what appeared to be white rock painted bright red on one face. These on analysis proved to be thick pieces of pottery. A few plain brown sherds  were also recovered as well as fragments of green glass bottles. A fish line extends down the steep, narrow crevice leading into the deeper passages of the cave. Mr. Haskell and Mr. Payne crawled down and along these winding, bat-infested cracks for about half an hour but returned without having reached the end or having seen any likely places for excavation.

Bird explored this cave until the descending crevices became too small to permit passage. The material which he obtained indicates that at least the main chamber was occupied by the aborigines. this collection includes some 21 sherds from the shallow dirt floor just inside the entrance, all of which had been turned over by treasure hunters. The majority of these are of the plain monochrome, red or brown ware, but there are a few sherds that are highly polished and one that is incised. Several are from small open bowls and one from a small jar with a short vertical neck. One sherd is part of an annular base, and one is a loop handle. The pottery ranges from 1.2 cm to .3 cm in thickness. The thin sherds are of a light brown ware and may be Polychrome I in type, but if so, all traces of paint have disappeared. The two most interesting sherds, however, are covered with a chalky white lime slip on the inside and a bright red paint on the outer surface. This paint has worn off in places, the white showing through. The sherds are .7 cm in thickness and are probably from the same vessel as those which we found. Seventy-five feet inside the entrance Bird found four sherds on the rock floor; all are dark brown, and two are rather elaborately incised with curved lines, scrolls, and dashes.

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The other finds include a fragment of a stone bowl (2.5 cm thick) made from a hard conglomerate highly polished on the inside, and a portion of hemispherical hammerstone with one polished surface. Particularly interesting is a complete, sharp-edged celt (8.8 cm in length), ovoid in form, which is made of conch shell. A fragment of an obsidian knife, several large land snails with perforations, various other fragmentary and whole bivalve shells, and five pieces of a dark glass bottle and a number of small human skull and other bone fragments which are highly mineralized. The latter are of considerable interest but unfortunately no likely places for more complete burials could be found in the cave.


This cave, the approximate location of which is given on the map (fig. 2), is some distance inland in a wooded area and was rather difficult to locate. It was explored by Bird but not visited by our party. Bird reports that the small cave opening leads back into the rock from the bottom of a craterlike formation. For about 60 feet it is low and narrow, opening into a fair-sized room with a deep pool of fresh water at one side. Bird secured several lime incrusted sherds in the passageway and, by diving, brought up one vessel from a depth of about 18 feet in the pool. This was located with a flashlight, the deep dive being made even more hazardous by the low roof over a portion of the pool. This bowl is about 30 cm in diameter with a globular body, a slightly contracted neck and a low, swollen, everted rim. The only decoration is an incised line around the neck. The sherds from the chamber and passageway include a small section of an undecorated globular pot (perhaps 25 cm in diameter) which has a constricted orifice but no rim; a portion of a short-necked bottle or water jar (perhaps 20 cm in diameter); and half of a globular bowl with a slightly constricted orifice and a low, slightly flaring rim. The latter has a small vertical loop handle and an estimated diameter of 15 cm. The small sherds from the passageway have a calcareous incrustation about 1.5 mm in thickness on their surface. All the pottery from this site is of a plain red ware, fairly well polished, and the majority of the pieces are somewhat smoke-blackened. They are obviously utilitarian types.

Bird states that the inner cave is poorly adapted for habitation and, as there is a good fresh-water pool in the outside crater, believes that the inner cave served as a hiding place. Such places must have been at a premium when the Spanish slave hunters were harrying the Islanders.

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This interesting site is close to East Harbor (see map, fig. 2) and has been rather thoroughly cleaned out by other visitors. It is locally known as "Big Bight Cave" and consists of a rough, basin-like area of rough rock or coral perhaps 25 yards in diameter, in which there are a number of cracks, pits and caves full of fresh water. According to Bird the formation here is volcanic in origin while my own hasty impression was that it was tumbled coral rock. The pools are surrounded by great irregular masses of needle-sharp rocks, and the holes have from 1 to 6 feet of water in them, many being inaccessible. Flat, smooth pieces of coral are laid as stepping stones from the inland edge of the basin to the main water hole. The site is only about 30 or 40 feet from the sea.

By stripping and diving, I secured a representative collection of potsherds. I presume Bird obtained his in the same manner for the only pieces noticed by us were in the water. Bird mentions it as "a water hole used by Indians" and states that "the surface of all sherds show the effect of lying in water; in nearly all cases the sand tempering is exposed on the surface". His collection includes 2 small complete vessels and some 13 sherds. All the pottery is of the monochrome red or brown type without visible slip. One complete bowl is 6 cm in height with a slightly contracting neck, plain rim, and wide mouth. The other is 5.5 cm in height, it is a small plain jar with globular body, a restricted orifice and a slightly flaring, medium high rim. A half portion of a large open bowl with an annular base is rather striking (fig. 34, b). It is 11 cm in height, of coarse, brown, sand-tempered pottery, and has two solid, vertical loop handles and a double line of bosses around the body. There are five fragments of medium-sized jars with slightly flaring rims ranging from 2 to 4.5 cm in height. Three of these have rather crude incised, applique, and punctate decorations. The most elaborate sherd is from a shallow open bowl with flaring lips and a tall tripod base. The legs are cylindrical with round swollen tips and raised upper portions with punctate decorations. Around the body, below the rim, is an incised series of panels, each containing two opposed step designs. There are two separate feet from similar vessels which, like the above, form rattles; one of these may be from the same bowl, but the other is of a mammi-form or cascabel shape. There is one small, solid, rectangular lug and a much worn sherd with a rather elaborate incised design consisting of a repeated double spiral ending in two dots.

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Our sample collection consists of half an open bowl and some 16 other sherds. These are all monochrome, ranging from brown to red, grit-tempered and coarse in texture. Most of them are coated with coral, which is almost a centimeter thick on some sherds, and many other sherds at the site had been fastened into the rocks by coral growth. The largest fragment is from an open bowl (18 cm in diameter) with a round bottom and a low concave neck which flares out slightly at the top. There are rim fragments of several round pots of medium size with low, slightly flaring rims, and several others from small round bowls with no necks but thickened rims. No other artifacts were noted at the site.

Although the water in the accessible caves is fresh, there may be some that is brackish. That this was a water hole used by the Indians seems a most logical explanation. The whole site, however, gives the impression of having once been a great cave that has fallen in, and it is tempting to explain the presence of numerous broken pots in inaccessible places in this way. Our own examination of the site was too hurried to check this hypothesis.


This site was evidently not worked by the Boekelman Expedition, but on Bird's composite photograph of the east end of the island he locates a "mound with potsherds" in the vicinity. Mr. Waterhouse took us to the place and is responsible for the statement that it covers 80 acres. It is certainly a large and important site and, being close to Stuart Hill, is probably one of the main habitation places connected with the stone causeways and other ceremonial features there which are mentioned by Rose (1904).

We examined an area of several acres on the edge of some low hills (see map, fig. 2), all of which is covered with broken pottery and kitchen refuse. There are a large number of low, irregular mounds here which seem to be composed in considerable part of refuse. They also contain human burials. We dug shallow pits into two of these mounds, but although we found some scattered human bones and teeth, along with sherds and other refuse, we did not strike any definite burials. Mr. Waterhouse stated that both extended and flexed burials, with bones in rather firm condition, had been dug up here.

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Our sample collection from here includes 24 sherds. These, like all other pottery noted at the site, are monochrome, ranging from brown to red in color. They are tempered with white (coral) grit and are rather well polished, although they lack any but the simplest attempts at decoration. Three fragments are from thick, round-bottomed, open bowls, one of which has a small ovoid lug with "coffee bean" eyes. Six sherds are from smaller open bowls with restricted orifices and low slightly flaring necks. Only one of these has a lug and irregular vertical incisions near the neck. A crudely modeled, solid conical leg and a thick body sherd (1 cm in thickness) are the only other pottery pieces. Other detached feet and lugs, some of which were modeled, were noted at the site.

There are six fragments of prismatic flake knives of black obsidian and many similar pieces were found in the mounds. Fish bones are very abundant, our sample containing four shark vertebrae (species indeterminable), the jaw of a hog fish (Lachnolaimus maximus), and others of indeterminable species. Shells did not seem to be very abundant, but a few mammal bones were noted. The fragments of the latter which were saved are too incomplete for identification. Irregular calcined stones and charcoal were observed in the mounds. Our examination of the site was extremely brief but sufficient to indicate that it was a definite habitation site, containing much material and apparently of considerable extent. Taken in conjunction with the stone causeways reported as converging on Stuart Hill, of which we were unaware at the time of our visit, the "Eighty Acre" site seems highly important.

As a whole, the island of Utila is obviously an extremely promising place for extensive archeological research. Habitation, ceremonial, and burial sites are all present, and of these only one or two have been seriously sampled. The island as a whole has not yet been examined even for surface indications, and this is especially true of the western end. Here on the surface of the ground near the small settlement of Sucsac Cay (see map, fig. 1) Bird obtained a small collection of sherds. These include two fragments of open bowls; two rims of large urn-like vessels with sharply everted lips; several rims from medium to large jars with low necks and flaring lips; one loop handle, and several body sherds. All are of course red ware without slip or decoration. We heard of other burial grounds in this part of the island which evidently resemble that at Black Rock Basin, but we had no time to visit them.

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