Pusilhá is an archaeological site in Belize. The location of this Late Classic Maya urban complex along the east and west flow of trade afford archaeologist a historical view of a secondary Maya site. Contiuning excavation has changed the overall picture of Maya social and political relationships between larger and smaller cities. The research conducted at Pusilhá began at the biginning of the 20th century and contiunes to this day.
The site of Pusilhá is located in the Toledo district of Belize in the town of San Benito Poité. Situated between the Poite and Pusilha rivers that run east and west may have had an impact of why the Maya urban complex was built there. The site is also located favorably between the Caribbean to the south and the Maya Mountains to the east. Pusilhá was also situated in the region for the flow of goods and ideas from the central lowlands and southeastern periphery located in Honduras.
With the major Maya urban sites of central lowlands at Caracol and Tikal and the southern lowland site of Copan, Pusilhá was possibly a major transfer point for economic activates in the whole of the lowland region.
The initial site survey was conducted in 1927 by the archaeologists of the British Museum Expedition to British Honduras. The survey led to the removal of the best preserved stelae from Pusilhá to the British Museum in London.
The survey yielded dates and calendrical glyphs that were included in Sylvanus G. Morley’s discussion work The Inscriptions of Petén. Thomas Joyce also conducted an extensive ceramics evaluation in 1929.
In the intervening 70 years very little research has been done at Pusilhá.
This state of affairs has changed with research and excavations carried out by Geoffrey Braswell and the Pusilha Archaeological Project beginning in 2001. The excavation that has continued to present has exposed three major areas at the center of Pusilhá to archaeological interpretation.
The site of Pusilhá has the one representation of bridge construction that has survived to modern time. The polity of Pusilhá also offers a look at the quantity and quality of the stelae available for study from a secondary urban complex. This site may represent an alternative method of looking at how the Maya govern themselves that is contrary to prevailing view of conquest and absorption of smaller cities into the larger cities in the region. To truly understand this site it must be stated that research and excavation is at a very early stage and that more work is required to fully understand the place that Pusilhá holds in the greater Maya world.