The Exploitation of Limestone in Ancient Mesoamerica

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Limestone was a key resource for daily life throughout much of ancient Mesoamerica where it was used for a variety of purposes including construction, hygiene, and diet among others. This session brings together archaeologists and archaeometrists investigating different aspects of ancient limestone exploitation throughout Mesoamerica to shed light on current research concerning: 1) limestone quarrying; 3) construction technology and methods; 3) the processing of limestone into lime powder (or cal); 4) the multiple uses and functions of lime powder; and 5) the social and economic implications of the ancient limestone exploitation industry. A combination of papers spanning a wide range of technical and theoretical backgrounds will foster conversation and debate concerning the study of this crucial material resource.

Other Keywords
MayaLimeLithicsLime KilnsKilnsEconomicsLimestoneArchaeometryManufacture TechniquesQuarries

Geographic Keywords

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Archaeometry and the lime kilns (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Maria Ortiz Ruiz.

    The characterization of the ring structures made ​​during the past two years allowed strongly suggest the presence of kilns for lime production used by the Maya of the Classic and evidence of use in the Colonial Period. Archaeometric techniques used in this research were critical in the mineralogical characterization, dating and obtaining organic waste associated with the production of lime. In this paper I present the results of two years of work that allowed characterizing the limestone used...

  • Dzibanché Stuccos: Arqueomagnetism Dating and Manufature Tecniques. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Luisa Straulino. Ana María Soler. Sergey Sedov. Sandra Balanzario. Teresa Pi.

    The archeological site of Dzibanché, Quintana Roo, has polychromed stucco remains that seems to date to the Middle Classic when the Kaan dinasty ruled at Dzibanché. The aim of this investigation was to determine the composition of the stucco and the painting (petrography, SEM-EDS, XRD) and date them.The antiferromagnetic hematite in paintings contains remanent magnetization (PiRM). Magnetic record could date them if changes in direction and intensity of the geomagnetic field have been well...

  • From Quarry to Household: The Economics of Limestone Bifaces among the Classic Maya of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bernadette Cap. Rachel Horowitz. Jason Yaeger. Mark Eli.

    Limestone is one of the most abundant stone resources over much of the Maya lowlands and scholarly research has been focused on its use as a construction material. Limestone was also used to create a variety of portable items, such as manos, metates, bark beaters, and bifaces. In this paper we examine the evidence for production, exchange, and consumption of limestone general utlity bifaces in the Bueanvista del Cayo zone, Belize during the Classic period. Although chert bifaces are more...

  • A geoarcheological study of the ancient quarries of Río Bec (Campeche, México) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Celine Gillot.

    The stone buildings of the Río Bec archaeological zone are a testament to the emergence of a new architectural tradition in the central Maya lowlands during the second half of the first millennium of our era. To understand this new architecture and the ways it has been conceived, a recent investigation has been carried out on the technological process involved in its production. Since construction practices can hardly be appreciated without considering the materials used by the builders, this...

  • Lime preparation in ancient Roman architectural and marine mortars (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marie Jackson. Gabriele Vola.

    Romans prepared lime for the volcanic ash mortars of conglomeratic concretes using methods (Vitruvius, de Architectura 5.1.2-3) that are reflected in modern Italian lime industry terminology. In mortars of architectural concretes in Rome (1st C BCE–3rd C CE) builders mixed quicklime with freshwater to form stiff putty (grasello di calce) and then incorporated moistened scoriaceous ash, shown by an experimental reproduction. Pure calcite in unburnt particles (incotti) suggests pre-orogenic...

  • Ring Structures and Lime Production at the Ancient Maya Site of Kiuic (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kenneth Seligson. Tomás Gallareta Negrón. Rossana May Ciau.

    Powdered lime was one of the most important materials produced and utilized by the ancient Maya. It was a key ingredient in the mortar used to construct monumental edifices and residential structures, as well as in the lime plaster that coated the facades, floors and interior walls of these structures. Lime was even crucial for maintaining a viable maize-based diet through the nixtamalization process. By soaking maize in lime-infused water the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica not only softened the...

  • Selective use and technology of limestone and lime products employed in mosaic and stucco decorations in Ek´ Balam (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alejandra Alonso-Olvera. Nora Ariadna Perez. Jose Luis Ruvalcaba. Jaime Torres.

    This study comprises preliminary results of analyses made on different type of limestones employed in models and stucco supports, and other stone products used by the ancient Maya of Ek´ Balam. The ancient Maya technology results in high efficiency and durable materials appropriate for the architectural and decorative program at the site, which has positively influenced the preservation of this heritage. The study of mineral elements from various limestone, and lime products (sascab and kut)...