"What’s in a Name?": Questioning the Idea of Olmec Origins for Jade Spoons

Author(s): Helen Haines; Kerry Sagebiel

Year: 2017


Jade has been long recognized by archaeologists as an important trade item among ancient Mesoamerican cultures. This is particularly true for ancient Olmec and Maya cultures where it also is seen as an indicator of social status. Unfortunately, the precocious development of Olmec society, lead many early archaeologists to an over-emphasis of Olmec influence on the Maya during the Formative Period (ca. 1000-400 BC). This is particularly noteworthy in the attribution of jade "spoons" to the Olmec, despite the lack of archaeological evidence. This paper focuses on the discovery of a jade spoon excavated at Ka'kabish, an ancient Maya site in North-Central Belize. This is one of two spoons recovered from a secure archaeological context and as such it helps further our understanding of the use and history of these objects. Based on this discovery, coupled with the limited number of other spoons that can be linked to a known site, this paper argues that these pieces should not be unquestionably attributed to the Olmec.

Cite this Record

"What’s in a Name?": Questioning the Idea of Olmec Origins for Jade Spoons. Helen Haines, Kerry Sagebiel. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429047)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14971