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The Artifacts of Tikal--Utilitarian Artifacts and Unworked Material

The Artifacts of Tikal--Utilitarian Artifacts and Unworked Material: Tikal Report 27B

Hattula Moholy-Nagy
William A. Haviland
Christopher Jones
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Artifacts of Tikal--Utilitarian Artifacts and Unworked Material
    Book Description:

    Occupied continuously for 1,500 years, Tikal was the most important demographic, economic, administrative, and ritual center of its region. The collection of materials recovered at Tikal is the largest and most diverse known from the Lowlands. This book provides a major body of primary data. The artifacts, represented by such raw materials as chert and shell are classified by type, number, condition, possible ancient use, form, material, size, and such secondary modifications as decoration and reworking, as well as by spatial distribution, occurrence in the various types of structure groups, recovery context, and date. The same format, with the exception of typology, is used for unworked materials such as mineral pigments and vertebrate remains. While few artifact reports go beyond a catalog of objects organized by type or raw material, this report puts the materials into their past cultural contexts and thus is of interest to a wide range of scholars.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-21-6
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vi-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    Tikal Report 27 presents artifacts and associated unworked materials recovered by the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Tikal Project of 1956-1969. In the 1980s, in the course of writing Tikal Report 14 on Gp. 5D-2, William R. Coe decided to report on that portion of the excavated sample thought to have had social and ceremonial functions. These were to be reported as Part A of the artifact report, while Part B was to cover the remainder. The plan was to publish Parts A and B together, which would compensate for the peculiarities of Coe’s division. Part B was finished a number...

  7. 2 Flaked Chert Artifacts
    (pp. 8-25)

    Based upon personal observations and a collection made by Bennett Bronson in 1966, nodules of medium and coarse textured chert and fine and medium quality chalcedony (translucent siliceous stone) large enough to be shaped into artifacts are still readily available at Tikal. So the procurement of raw material suitable for artifacts did not require special organization. On the other hand, some types of piercing and cutting implements, such as thin bifaces, were usually made of finer textured, opaque, tan, brown, and gray chert, some of it banded, that has not been recorded at Tikal and that may have come from...

  8. 3 Flaked Obsidian Artifacts
    (pp. 26-35)

    A behavioral typology for Tikal’s obsidian industry is presented in Chart 3.1. No unworked obsidian was noted in the excavated sample. The scarcity of cortex on finished artifacts and debitage and the occasional presence of “bag wear” on the arrises of large flakes, prismatic blade cores, and incised obsidians show that virtually all of the obsidian found at Tikal arrived in the form of large polyhedral cores (Fig. B: 69a; Clark and Lee 1979; Sheets 1975). For the most part, large polyhedral cores were reduced into utilitarian prismatic blades, prismatic blade cores, and debitage. Broad, often irregular scars and abraded...

  9. 4 Ground, Pecked, and Polished Stone Artifacts and Unworked Stones and Minerals
    (pp. 36-57)

    Generally it was easier to ascribe uses to artifacts of ground stone than to those of chipped stone, but several types remained completely enigmatic and these were given descriptive names. Most of the sample consisted of utilitarian artifacts assumed to have been used in a domestic setting to accomplish various tasks, such as food preparation, as well as in craft activities, such as the production of tools and cloth. The ballgame hand-stones and many of the miscellaneous artifacts may represent failed production attempts.

    Chert and chalcedony of different quality, nodules of fine-textured limestone, soft dolomite bedrock, concretions, and clay all...

  10. 5 Bone Artifacts and Unworked Vertebrate Remains
    (pp. 58-74)

    I suspect that much bone has vanished from archaeological context, especially in Tikal’s outlying areas. Only three worked fragments, and only 31 of over 30,000 unworked vertebrate remains, occurred beyond Zone 05. Furthermore, the quantity of any kind of bone was closely correlated with the size of the architecture with which it was associated, with the construction fills of larger, masonry structures offering greater protection from decay than the fills of housemound platforms. Bone was often found in special deposits and chultuns. Such skewed distributions appear to be the result of factors of preservation rather than past cultural behavior and...

  11. 6 Pottery Sherd Artifacts
    (pp. 75-80)

    Most of the sherd artifacts found at Tikal were first chipped into shape and then the edges were ground smooth. This two-step process was taken into consideration in their classification, with ground edges designated as Variety A of a particular type and chipped edges as Variety B. Generally fewer Variety B artifacts were recorded, I suspect because of the difficulty of picking them out among unworked potsherds. However, when the lower proportion of chipped sherd artifacts was taken into account, their spatial, chronological, and contextual distributions coincided with worked sherds that had ground edges. Therefore, worked sherds with ground and...

  12. 7 Formed Pottery Artifacts
    (pp. 81-85)

    No special research was conducted into the local availability of clay, but to judge from its extensive use in building construction fill, it must have been abundant and easily obtained. Samples from Gp. 5D-2 were identified as mortmorillonite. There is nothing to indicate that access to this important resource was restricted in any manner.

    It is generally assumed that pottery vessels and other objects of utilitarian function were produced by the households in which they were used, while special-purpose vessels and artifacts were made by craft specialists and distributed through intracommunity or marketplace exchange. Vessels and artifacts intended as elite...

  13. 8 Artifacts of Mud, Plaster, and Unfired Clay
    (pp. 86-87)

    For the most part, the Tikal sample consisted of small fragments of enigmatic function and use. Hard, white, burned lime plaster was used during the Early Late Preclassic period in the earliest-identified public architecture in Gp. 5D-2. The technique of covering artifacts of pottery or perishable materials with a thin layer of stucco, or more properly, gesso, is at least as early as the Late Late Preclassic. Objects of lime plaster or gesso-coated artifacts may no longer have been made after the end of the Late Classic period.

    Figure B: 150c, d, Table 8.1-8.5

    Total: 21, 17 complete (Table 8.1)....

  14. 9 Textiles and Textile Impressions
    (pp. 88-91)

    Mineralized residues of woven cloth and impressions of now-vanished woven cloth, mats, baskets, barkcloth, rope, and string are included in this category. The impressions were found on pottery, unfired clay, sediments from special deposits, mud, and plaster. It was possible to make latex molds of several of them. Detailed descriptions by Dorothy Cavalier Yanik of representative examples of woven cloth are presented in Appendix I, below.

    Plants that produce fibers suitable for string and rope, baskets and mats, such as thatch palms, grass, reeds, philodendrons, maize, and maguey grow wild or can be cultivated in the Petén. Barkcloth and paper...

  15. 10 Wooden Artifacts and Artifact Impressions
    (pp. 92-93)

    To judge from the material cultural inventories of contemporary societies, wood must have figured prominently in domestic and ritual activities at Tikal, although little artifactual evidence has survived. It was an abundant local resource and both expedient and specialist-produced artifacts were made of it. Many of the chert and obsidian artifact types described in Chapters Two and Three were used to procure and process wood. Representations, impressions, and actual traces demonstrate that wood was used for furniture in domestic and mortuary settings, the construction of public and domestic structures, and for numerous kinds of portable material culture items, such as...

  16. 11 Plant Remains and Impressions and Other Non-Artifactual Materials
    (pp. 94-98)

    Although we did not do any flotation or routinely screen general excavations, a number of plant remains were recovered from cultural contexts. Many were identified by experts as domesticated and wild edible plants.

    A few samples of unworked material brought into the field laboratory were tentatively identified as of either plant or animal origin. No guesses were ventured about eight other samples.

    An effort was made to collect samples for radiocarbon dating. The number given above is taken from the lot cards filled out at the time of excavation. A number of these have been processed and reported. Soil samples...

  17. Appendices A–G
    (pp. 99-99)
  18. Appendix H Report on the Tektites Found at Tikal
    (pp. 100-101)
    Alan R. Hildebrand
  19. Appendix I Analysis of Textile Impressions and Cloth Fragments from Tikal
    (pp. 102-104)
    Dorothy Cavalier Yanik
  20. Appendix J The Atlatl from Operation 96D, Structure 5D-51, Group 5D-11, Tikal
    (pp. 105-106)
    Peter D’Arcy Harrison
  21. References
    (pp. 107-115)
  22. Figures
    (pp. 116-275)
  23. Index
    (pp. 276-276)