Exotics for the Lords and Gods: Lowland Maya Consumption of European Goods along a Spanish Colonial Frontier

Jaime J. Awe, Christophe Helmke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Researchers who have focused attention on Maya - Spanish interaction along the Belize colonial frontier note that the relationship between these two contrasting cultures was anything but amicable. As consequence of this bellicose relationship, some authors suggest that few material goods of European origin were actually traded or integrated into frontier settlements. They also contend that whereas ethnohistoric reports describing the missionizing efforts of Spanish priests provide us with important data on Maya life during the early colonial period, the Spanish entradas provide precious little information about the material goods they gifted to the Maya, and even less about how the Maya utilized these foreign goods. In this chapter, we discuss how the ethnohistoric record actually offers us considerable information concerning the consumption of European objects by the Maya, and that archaeological discoveries in Belize, Guatemala and Yucatan provide increasing evidence to suggest that a variety of objects of European origin were integrated into Maya material culture. The archaeological record also indicates that objects of European origin were used as status symbols by the Maya elite, that they sometimes served mundane purposes, or were deposited in caches and offerings in sacred places where they were ritually decommissioned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEarly Americas
Subtitle of host publicationHistory and Culture
EditorsCorinne Hofman, Floris Keehnen
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameEarly Americas: History and Culture
ISSN (Print)1875-3264


  • Belize
  • European goods
  • colonial frontier
  • historic Maya
  • material culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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