Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: Experimentation and Interpretation

Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: Experimentation and Interpretation

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University of Utah Press


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Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: Experimentation and Interpretation

Any overview of prehispanic society in the Americas would identify its obsidian core-blade production as a unique and highly inventive technology. Normally termed prismatic blades, these long, parallel-sided flakes are among the sharpest cutting tools ever produced by humans. Their standardized form permitted interchangeable use, and such blades became the cutting tool of choice throughout Mesoamerica between 600-800 B.C. Because considerable production skill is required, increased demand may have stimulated the appearance of craft specialists who played an integral role in Mesoamerican society. Some investigators have argued that control over obsidian also had a significant effect on the development and organization of chiefdom and state-level societies.

While researchers have long recognized the potential of obsidian studies, recent work has focused primarily on compositional analysis to reconstruct trade and distribution networks. Study of blade production has received much less attention, and many aspects of this highly evolved craft are still lost.

This volume seeks to identify current research questions in Mesoamerican lithic technology and to demonstrate that replication studies coupled with experimental research design are valuable analytical approaches to such questions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874807653
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Publication date: 12/28/2003
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 370
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Table of Contents

List of Figuresvii
List of Tablesxi
1.Experimentation and Interpretation in Mesoamerican Lithic Technology3
2.The Behavioral Model in Maya Core-Blade Technology: A Historical View10
3.A Review of Twentieth-Century Mesoamerican Obsidian Studies15
4.Blade-Making Techniques from the Old World: Insights and Applications to Mesoamerican Obsidian Lithic Technology55
5.Mexica Blade Making with Wooden Tools: Recent Experimental Insights72
6.Handheld Prismatic Blade Manufacture in Mesoamerica98
7.Pecked and Scored Initiations: Early Classic Core-Blade Production in the Central Maya Lowlands108
8.Measurable Flintknapping120
9.The Maya Eccentric: Evidence for the Use of the Indirect Percussion Technique in Mesoamerica from Preliminary Experiments Concerning Their Manufacture132
10.Alternative Techniques for Producing Mesoamerican-Style Pressure Flaking Patterns on Obsidian Bifaces147
11.From the Quarry Pit to the Trash Pit: Comparative Core-Blade Technology at Tula, Hidalgo, and the Ucareo Obsidian Source Region153
12.The Kaminaljuyu Production Sequence for Obsidian Prismatic Blades: Technological Characteristics and Research Questions170
13.The Xochicalco Production Sequence for Obsidian Prismatic Blades: Technological Analysis and Experimental Inferences182
14.Biface Production and Craft Specialization: A View from Sierra de las Navajas, Hidalgo197
15.Measuring Prehistoric Craftsman Skill: Contemplating Its Application to Mesoamerican Core-Blade Research208
16.Craftsmanship and Craft Specialization220
17.Experimentation and Interpretation in Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: A Look to the Future234
Appendix ABibliography of Quarry Studies239
Appendix BPublication History of Major Journals241
Appendix CBibliography of Dissertations and Theses253
Appendix DCombined Bibliography of Journal Samples, Dissertations, and Theses263
Appendix EBibliography of Replication and Ethnographic Studies271
Appendix FExplanation of the Cases Documented in Table 16.2273
List of Contributors341

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