Title

A Social Network Analysis of the Postclassic Lowland Maya Obsidian Projectile Industry

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2017

Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Abstract

This study addresses the role of prehistoric ethnopolitical divisions, factionalism, and alliances in macroregional economic models. The Mesoamerican Late Postclassic period (a.d. 1350–1525) is characterized by its “cosmopolitan” economy featuring long distance exchange of raw materials and finished products. Such characterizations are examined through a provenance analysis of small obsidian projectile points from the Maya lowlands of Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. Obsidian artifacts are analyzed using portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and social network analysis (SNA) methods, revealing at least four sub-networks of point procurement that belonged to nine different ethnopolitical divisions. Local production of points is approached using a novel method of two-mode analysis, demonstrating in some cases that the sources of local obsidian debitage and debris did not coincide with the sources of finished point assemblages. Such information reveals the intricacies of Maya exchange and stresses the importance of local political geography during the Late Postclassic.

Publication Title

Ancient Mesoamerica

Volume

28

Issue

1

First Page

137

Last Page

156

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