Developing a New Methodology for Sourcing Calcite and Quartz Crystals

Author(s): Caius Chickanis; Monica Briseno

Year: 2016


Quarts and calcite crystals are used by shamans throughout Mesoamerica for divination. Ethnographic accounts mention shamans who, lacking actual crystals, use pieces of broken glass. This suggests that crystals may not occur in all areas so that crystals could have been actively traded in Pre-Columbian times. Testing this hypothesis requires developing a methodology for sourcing quarts and calcite crystals using trace elements incorporated into the crystal matrix during growth. So far as we know, this has not been previously attempted. This paper presents the results of tests using a number of sourcing techniques run on crystals recovered riverine sands in the Cueva de Río Murciélagos, Dos Pilas against crystals from other areas. We hope to apply this methodology to the Maya area.

Cite this Record

Developing a New Methodology for Sourcing Calcite and Quartz Crystals. Caius Chickanis, Monica Briseno. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404276)


Calcite Quartz Sourcing

Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

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