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The Artifacts of Tikal--Utilitarian Artifacts and Unworked Material

Tikal Report 27B

By Hattula Moholy-Nagy

Publication Year: 2011

Occupied continuously for 1,500 years, Tikal was the most important demographic, economic, administrative, and ritual center of its region. The collection of materials recovered at Tikal is the largest and most diverse known from the Lowlands.

This book provides a major body of primary data. The artifacts, represented by such raw materials as chert and shell are classified by type, number, condition, possible ancient use, form, material, size, and such secondary modifications as decoration and reworking, as well as by spatial distribution, occurrence in the various types of structure groups, recovery context, and date. The same format, with the exception of typology, is used for unworked materials such as mineral pigments and vertebrate remains.

While few artifact reports go beyond a catalog of objects organized by type or raw material, this report puts the materials into their past cultural contexts and thus is of interest to a wide range of scholars.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5


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p. 6-6


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pp. vi-x

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pp. xi-12

Facilitating my research in Guatemala were Vivian Broman de Morales, Rudy Lárrios, José María Márquez, Antonio and Aura Luz Ortiz, Carlos Samayoa Chinchilla, Edwin M. Shook, and Antonio Tejeda. Elizabeth Christensen, William R. Coe, Virginia Greene, Barbara Hayden, Christopher Jones, Walda Metcalf, Jennifer Quick...


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pp. xii-13

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-7

Even today, Maya archaeologists tend to be distracted by the splendid monumental architecture, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and gorgeous sumptuary goods, and they are apt to slight the more plentiful domestic artifacts, which can also provide important data. A shortcoming of the sample reported here is that it was excavated and recorded in the 1960s, when there was...

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2. Flaked Chert Artifacts

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pp. 8-25

The local availability of nodules of a quality and size suitable for artifacts gave rise to two forms of artifact production: specialized, produced mainly for others, and expedient, made by the producer as the need arose. The rudimentary skills required to make them and the lack of standardization of shape and size suggest...

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3. Flaked Obsidian Artifacts

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pp. 26-35

Prismatic blades, usually found as fragments, were by far the most numerous finished artifact type of obsidian at all times, from the Middle Preclassic period into Early Postclassic times. Among the other artifact types described here, small points, the large polyhedral core, prismatic blade cores, large flakes...

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4. Ground, Pecked, and Polished Stone Artifacts and Unworked Stones and Minerals

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pp. 36-57

Chert and chalcedony of different quality, nodules of fine-textured limestone, soft dolomite bedrock, concretions, and clay all appear to have been abundant at Tikal itself. Waterworn cobbles and boulders of coarse chert and fine limestone may have come from Lake Petén Itzá, a day’s walk away. Rock of metamorphic...

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5. Bone Artifacts and Unworked Vertebrate Remains

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pp. 58-74

Bones, teeth, and antler were locally available for the production of domestic artifacts. Large imported riverine turtles may have supplied the carapaces and plastrons used for artifacts of that material. Human bone was identified among some of the artifacts and debitage, but it does not appear to have been regarded...

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6. Pottery Sherd Artifacts

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pp. 75-80

Potsherds were a local resource, readily available to anyone, and could be easily worked into a variety of artifacts. These characteristics suggest an expedient industry of goods produced by the consumer. The debitage from such production has not, as yet, been distinguished from unworked sherds. The array of artifacts...

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7. Formed Pottery Artifacts

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pp. 81-85

It is generally assumed that pottery vessels and other objects of utilitarian function were produced by the households in which they were used, while specialpurpose vessels and artifacts were made by craft specialists and distributed through intracommunity or marketplace exchange. Vessels and artifacts intended as elite...

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8. Artifacts of Mud, Plaster, and Unfired Clay

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pp. 86-87

For the most part, the Tikal sample consisted of small fragments of enigmatic function and use. Hard, white, burned lime plaster was used during the Early Late Preclassic period in the earliest-identified public architecture in Gp. 5D-2. The technique of covering artifacts of pottery or perishable materials...

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9. Textiles and Textile Impressions

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pp. 88-91

Impressions on the walls of the grave of an Early Late Preclassic burial demonstrate the use, and possibly the production, of woven cloth at Tikal several centuries before the earliest durable spindle whorls. It is likely that at all times most spindle whorls, spindles, and weaving tools were of wood and other plant...

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10. Wooden Artifacts and Artifact Impressions

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pp. 92-93

To judge from the material cultural inventories of contemporary societies, wood must have figured prominently in domestic and ritual activities at Tikal, although little artifactual evidence has survived. It was an abundant local resource and both expedient and specialist-produced artifacts were...

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11. Plant Remains and Impressions and other Non-Artifactual Materials

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pp. 94-98

An effort was made to collect samples for radiocarbon dating. The number given above is taken from the lot cards filled out at the time of excavation. A number of these have been processed and reported. Soil samples were frequently taken from special deposits and other promising contexts and these still...

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Appendices A-G

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pp. 99-112

All databases are provided in their original Fox Pro format, as Microsoft Access databases, and as simple text files (i.e. ASCII text with tabs separating the fields of data). Users should be able to import one of the forms into most major spreadsheet, database, or statistical analysis software packages. Please follow your...

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Appendix H

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pp. 100-101

Tektites are natural glasses quenched from superheated melts, produced and ejected at relatively large velocities, by impacts on the surface of the earth. Some of their most obvious petrologic characteristics (e.g., reduction, volatile depletion, and lack of crystallites) are a consequence of this...

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Appendix I

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pp. 102-104

Finely constructed plain weaves and twill weaves create strong fabrics ideal for clothing or other heavy usage, while weaves of open construction are more decorative and less durable. The plain weaves in the collection included both open and fine examples, with spaces between threads ranging from none to about...

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Appendix J

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pp. 105-106

The spearthrower was lying prone, very close to the floor, one cm above the plaster surface, but imbedded in a thin deposit of burned soil immediately above the plaster floor of the south half of the east room of the structure (Fig. B: 160). The handle loops were constructed of carved bone with decorative notching along...


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pp. 107-115


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pp. 116-275


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pp. 276-289

E-ISBN-13: 9781934536216
Print-ISBN-13: 9781931707404

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011