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Beyond the Utilitarian: Spindle Whorls from Burials and Caches in the Maya Area

Author(s): Mallory Fenn ; Gabrielle Vail ; Gail Fish ; Vail

Year: 2016

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Technologies for spinning fibers into thread by hand have changed little in Mesoamerica since they were first introduced. Made primarily of perishable materials, however, the wooden spindle and the fibers themselves are generally no longer present in the archaeological record. What does survive, however, are spindle whorls – spherical artifacts used to weigh down the spindle to keep it anchored during the process of spinning. In the Maya area, these artifacts are rarely found in primary contexts; instead, they are encountered most frequently in caches and burials. They are also seen throughout both the Maya area and central Mexico being worn by female deities with associations of fertility and often with water and rain making. This poster examines what this patterning says about the functions and uses of spindle whorls in in both the utilitarian and symbolic spheres during the Late Classic period (c. 600-900 CE) in the Maya lowlands.

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Beyond the Utilitarian: Spindle Whorls from Burials and Caches in the Maya Area. Mallory Fenn, Gabrielle Vail, Gail Fish, Vail. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404326)


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