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‘Limestone Bars’ as Power Objects among the Ancient Maya: a Consideration of Objects as Active Participants in Ritual Practice

Author(s): Arlen Chase ; Lisa Johnson ; Diane Chase

Year: 2015

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This paper considers how people and things come together in a ritual setting and attempts to break down the division between the human participants and the materials engaged. Using contemporary perspectives surrounding post-Marxian materialism, it is argued that archaeology has the means to explore the ways in which materials exhibit their active nature in particular contexts. With this in mind, this study will reassess small bar-shaped limestone artifacts that have been recovered from numerous archaeological contexts throughout the Lowland Maya area of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. A consideration of general size, shape and treatment suggests that these objects may have been tools and that their role in ritual practice transformed them into an active participant. Understanding that things can be active when articulated in an assemblage of social relations, enables scholars to disentangle subjective assumptions of value and meaning. In this case, it enables one to argue that a seemingly "ordinary" bar of limestone, an abundant resource in the Maya area, was seen as an object of power through its participation in ritual.

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‘Limestone Bars’ as Power Objects among the Ancient Maya: a Consideration of Objects as Active Participants in Ritual Practice. Lisa Johnson, Arlen Chase, Diane Chase. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396836)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America