Late to Terminal Classic Period Obsidian Exchange and Regional Interaction in the Belize Valley


The ancient Maya employed a diverse set of economic strategies to access raw materials and finished products. In the Belize Valley, long-distance exchange of obsidian integrated sites into larger local and regional economic systems during the Classic period. We present the results of geochemical sourcing of obsidian artifacts using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) from Late Classic to Terminal Classic period (ca. AD 600-900/1000) contexts at the sites of Cahal Pech, Baking Pot, and Lower Dover in the Belize Valley to understand mechanisms of exchange within and between communities in the region. Results indicate that the Belize Valley was economically linked to the highlands of Guatemala through obsidian exchange, with some weaker ties to the Basin of Mexico. Comparisons with sourced materials from other Classic and Terminal Classic period assemblages in the Belize Valley and elsewhere in the Maya lowlands may indicate the presence of shifting exchange networks, perhaps with an increasing reliance on riverine or coastal routes. The changing nature of exchange networks may have been a factor contributing to the transition to the Terminal Classic and the subsequent Classic period collapse ca. AD 780-900/1000 in the Maya lowlands.

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Late to Terminal Classic Period Obsidian Exchange and Regional Interaction in the Belize Valley. Claire Ebert, Richard George, Rafael Guerra, Jaime Awe, Julie Hoggarth. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397387)

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Spatial Coverage

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