Elite Artists and Craft Producers in Classic Maya Society: Lithic Evidence from Aguateca, Guatemala

  • Aoyama K
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Abstract

This report examines 10,845 lithic artifacts from the rapidly abandoned city of Aguateca, Guatemala, to elucidate elite artistic and craft production in Classic Maya society. The methods used include high-power microwear analysis. The results suggest that significant numbers of Maya elite, both men and women, engaged in artistic creation and craft production, often working in both attached and independent contexts. The royal family and other elite households produced many artistic and craft items, including wood carvings and hide or leather goods. The scribe inhabiting Structure M8-8 carved stelae for the ruler, and the high-status courtier/scribe living in Structure M8-4 emphasized the production of shell and bone objects and other royal regalia in a courtly setting. Clearly, Aguateca was a center of part-time production of both utilitarian and luxury goods as well as of consumption. Classic Maya elite men and women artists/craft producers possessed multiple social identities and roles, which in turn implies a more flexible and integrated system of Classic Maya elite participating in attached and independent craft production more than is usually proposed.

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Authors

  • Kazuo Aoyama

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