Precolumbian Jade: New Geological and Cultural Interpretations

Overview

From prehistoric times to the present, the visual and physical properties of jade have made it one of the world's most highly prized commodities. With only eight to ten widely scattered sources, jade artifacts are also ideal objects for scientific and archaeological investigation: artifacts can be traced to their origin, and prehistoric trade and social patterns can be reconstructed. Precolumbian Jade offers a broad compendium and synthesis of current jade research, both geological and cultural, in Mesoamerica ...
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Overview

From prehistoric times to the present, the visual and physical properties of jade have made it one of the world's most highly prized commodities. With only eight to ten widely scattered sources, jade artifacts are also ideal objects for scientific and archaeological investigation: artifacts can be traced to their origin, and prehistoric trade and social patterns can be reconstructed. Precolumbian Jade offers a broad compendium and synthesis of current jade research, both geological and cultural, in Mesoamerica and Central America. Beginning with the problems of sourcing and the examination of jade's geological properties, the volume moves through regional studies of jade use and major carving traditions (Maya, Olmec, and Costa Rican). It ends with several considerations of the role of individual jade objects in cultural context. A multinational group of contributors discuss evidence for points of origin, analytical techniques, manufacturing techniques, interregional stylistic influences, elite control of jade, ritual uses, and provenience of the famous Tibas jade. Since Precolumbian Jade deals with such varied aspects of jade study, it will be of interest to mineralogists, archaeoiogists, and art historians. It promises to be a major source for the study of Precolumbian cultures.

"Monumental work that includes detailed studies of jade from across Central and South America is divided into three parts. Pt. 1 includes eight chapters on geology and minerology; Pt. 2, eight chapters on cultural contexts; and Pt. 3, six chapters on artifacts. Of special note is that the Motagua Valley of Guatemala remains the only known source of jadeite for the entire region. Invaluable compendium for archaeologists working in the region who have recovered jade from their sites"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874803938
  • Publisher: University of Utah Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1993
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 7.35 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Plates
Tables
Preface
Introduction 1
Pt. I Geology and Mineralogy 7
1 Middle American Jade: Geologic and Petrologic Perspectives on Variability and Source 9
2 Compositional and Structural Characterization of Maya and Costa Rican Jadeitites 30
3 A Possible Source of Raw Material for the Costa Rican Lapidary Industry 61
4 Jades in the Jade Museum, Instituto Nacional de Seguros, San Jose, Costa Rica 68
5 Visible and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy for Jade Artifact Analysis 73
6 The Enigma of Jade, with Mineralogical Reference to Central American Source Materials 82
7 Mesoamerican Jade: Surface Changes Caused By Natural Weathering 104
8 Sources of Maya and Central American Jadeitites: Data Bases and Interpretations - A Summary 125
Pt. II Cultural Contexts 131
9 The Beginning of Classic Maya Jade Carving in the Southeast 133
10 Jade and Jade Objects in Precolumbian Costa Rica 141
11 The Jade Ahau: Toward a Theory of Commodity Value in Maya Civilization 149
12 The Cultural Context of Jade Artifacts from the Maya Site of Cerros, Belize 166
13 Ancient Currency: The Style and Use of Jade and Marble Carvings in Central Honduras 173
14 The Context of Jade in Costa Rica 191
15 Formative Guerrero and Its Jade 203
16 Jade Use in Portions of Mexico and Central America: Olmec, Maya, Costa Rica, and Honduras - A Summary 211
Pt. III Artifacts 233
17 Iconography of a Greenstone Celt 235
18 The Jade Mirror: An Olmec Concave Jadeite Pendant 242
19 The Izapa Style and the Tibas Jade 251
20 Precolumbian Soft Stone Carvings in Costa Rica 260
21 Formal Classification of Prehistoric Costa Rican Jade: A First Approximation 269
22 The Media of Ritual 289
Pt. IV Summary 307
Appendices (from Chapter 2) 313
Contributors 345
Bibliography 347
Index 375
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