Expedient lithic technology in complex sedentary societies: Use-wear, flake size, and edge angle on debitage from two ancient Maya sites

W. James Stemp, Elizabeth Graham, Christophe Helmke, Jaime J. Awe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In complex sedentary societies, debitage is often ignored when archaeologists turn their attention to the functional items necessary for the completion of various tasks. Lithic production debris recovered from ancient Maya sites is very rarely examined in this regard. The use-wear analysis of debitage from Maya sites not only assists in identifying the chipped stone artifacts that served as informal, ad hoc or expedient tools, but also reveals how the tools were utilized. Use-wear analysis of the chipped chert and chalcedony debitage from two sites in Belize, namely Terminal Classic (A.D. 830 – 950) Pook's Hill and Late Postclassic-Early Spanish Colonial (ca. A.D. 1400 – 1700) San Pedro, demonstrates the important role of expedient tools in the daily lives of the ancient Maya. This study of use-wear also reveals the variation in flake use in terms of tool size and edge angle. Analysis of the debitage from Pook's Hill and San Pedro enables a more complete understanding—than would be gained from a study of finished formal tools, alone—of the larger technological, socio-economic and environmental implications of settlement in a forested river valley on the mainland versus an offshore caye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101243
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume61
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Ad hoc
  • Ancient Maya
  • Complex sedentary society
  • Curation
  • Expedient
  • Flakes
  • Informal
  • Lithics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology

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