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The Context and Significance of Copper Artifacts in Postclassic and Early Historic Lamanai, Belize

Simmons, SE; Pendergast, DM; Graham, E; (2009) The Context and Significance of Copper Artifacts in Postclassic and Early Historic Lamanai, Belize. J FIELD ARCHAEOL , 34 (1) 57 - 75.

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Abstract

We consider the archaeological contexts in which copper objects have been recovered at the ancient Maya site of Lamanai in northern Belize and the significance these objects had for the residents of the community during Postclassic (ca. A.D. 950-1544) and Spanish colonial (post 1544) times. More copper objects have been recovered from controlled archaeological contexts at Lamanai than any other site in the southern Maya lowlands area. Bells make up the majority of the assemblage during the centuries just prior to and during historical times, but high status objects such as rings and clothing ornaments found in elite burials dominate in the Early Postclassic period. All of these objects were imported from outside the Maya area. Utilitarian objects, including needles, axes, and fish books, are found in a variety of contexts during Late Postclassic and Spanish colonial times, as are bells and rings. Production materials, including prills, blanks, and pigs/ingots, in addition to mis-cast objects that are production failures, also appear during this time. Nearly all of the copper objects found at Lamanai are distinctly Mesoamerican in form and design, and based on metallurgical analysis it appears that manufacturing technologies were distinctly Mesoamerican as well. The presence of production materials and mist-cast pieces, along with the results of chemical compositional and microstructural analyses, support the idea that the Maya at Lamanai were engaged in the on-site production of copper objects by late precolumbian times.

Type: Article
Title: The Context and Significance of Copper Artifacts in Postclassic and Early Historic Lamanai, Belize
Keywords: MESOAMERICA
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/342548
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