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116 6 • Everyday Life at Chan For two thousand years, farmers, crafts producers, diviners, and community leaders lived at Chan. In the previous chapter I use settlement survey data to open up questions about everyday life in the past that could be explored through horizontal (open area) excavations. Exploring Chan’s residents’ everyday lives opens the possibility to examine not only people’s experiences and interactions but also social dynamics within the community and beyond, power relationships in society, and the very nature of Maya society itself. By exploring the homes, workplaces, and meeting places of Chan’s varied community members, it is possible to identify shared understandings of home and community that rooted people in place as well as the different and conflicting understandings of life and society that led to changing dynamics within the community. Viewing everyday life across a two-thousand-year period reveals how people and society are shaped by the historical conditions produced by their ancestors across their daily lives, as well as how everyday life can open possibilities to construct new selves and society. To examine variability in Chan’s households, between 2003 and 2006 and in 2009, project members undertook excavations at a 10 percent sample of Chan’s households (26 households; Blackmore 2008, 2011, 2012; Hearth 2012; Kestle 2012; Robin, Meierhoff, and Kosakowsky 2012; Wyatt 2008a, 2008b, 2012; figure 6.1). The project explored households of varying wealth and status, from humble farmers to community leaders, including all status groups in between these as discernible through the seven-tiered mound group typology. The project explored households with varying occupational foci, from farming households to stone tool producers, limestone quarriers, marine shell crafters, and obsidian blade producers. It explored households from different time periods across Everyday Life at Chan · 117 Chan’s two-thousand-year history as well as households located at varying distances from the community center. Given the small size of Chan’s community center, project members also excavated all ritual, residential, and administrative buildings at the community center (Cap 2012; Robin, Meierhoff, Kestle, et al. 2012; Robin, Meierhoff, and Kosakowsky 2012). The Chan excavation not only focused on the mounds (architectural remains ) that form the traditional corpus of Maya studies; excavators also conducted extensive posthole testing grids extending for thirty to fifty meters from visible architecture to identify and further excavate activity areas and places of daily life in the open spaces that surrounded people’s homes (chapter 4). Across excavations, excavators collected samples for microanalysis to enhance the understanding of everyday life in the past. These included taking ten-gram soil and plaster samples for chemical analyses across all floor, occupation, and activity contexts to elucidate the signatures of ancient activities that are no longer visible in macroartifact and architectural remains and taking ten-liter flotation samples for paleoethnobotanical analysis and microartifact analysis from all contexts to determine food consumption and production and the micro debris remains of ancient activities that are otherwise swept away or removed at abandonment by ancient inhabitants. Specialists in the analysis of particular artifact classes examined excavated materials from Chan in each field season (2003–2006, 2009) as excavations were ongoing. Because of the time-consuming nature of artifact analysis, two seasons (2007 and 2008) were devoted entirely to analytical work. The roughly half a million objects of everyday life at Chan form one of the largest archaeological samples of Maya farming life. The specialists who analyzed each artifact class worked collaboratively with each other and excavators across the field season, conducting their research largely within the field lab in Belize (excluding technical analyses that required instrumentation not available in Belize). This allowed specialists to produce contextual understandings of Chan’s excavated materials in dialogue with each other’s analyses and the work of excavators. The major classes of material remains identified at Chan include ceramics (Kosakowsky 2012; Kosakowsky et al. 2012), plant remains (Lentz et al. 2012), chert lithics (Hearth 2012), obsidian (Meierhoff et al. 2012), shell (Keller 2012), jade, serpentine, and greenstone (Keller 2008), animal bone (Blackmore 2007), ground stone (analysis ongoing by Belizean student Sylvia Batty), microartifacts (Cap 2012), and soils (Hetrick 2007). Human remains were also Figure 6.1. Top: Excavation areas at Chan: (a) Operation 15 agricultural terrace and household excavations; (b) Operation 4 agricultural terrace and household excavations; (c) Operation 20 agricultural terrace excavations; (d) Operation 28 limestone quarry and household excavations; (e) Operation 18 agricultural terrace excavations; (f) Central Group, West Plaza, and leading family household excavations...


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