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The Afterlife in Exile: Butterfly Imagery on Teotihuacan-style Censers from the Pacific Coast of Guatemala

Author(s): Annabeth Headrick ; Dorie Reents-Budet

Year: 2017

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The Teotihuacan-style censers from Guatemala have received relatively little attention since the 1980s. Following upon earlier suggestions for a merchant-warrior presence in the Escuintla region, this study examines the butterfly imagery on a group of Teotihuacan-style censers in the national collections of Guatemala. This group of unprovenanced artifacts has research value because (1) its original imagery is intact, and (2) all have been sampled for paste analysis (instrumental neutron activation analysis–INAA). The paste chemistry, combined with archaeological data and stylistic analyses, allow us to re-contextualize the censers in terms of interaction among the Pacific Coast sites as well as their external connections. Focused analyses of their intact imagery seek to better understand their social and funerary functions. The censers’ emphasis on Teotihuacan warrior and afterlife rituals suggest Teotihuacanos living far from home. Yet their prominent three-mountain motif intimates a connection to mythologized landscapes of both the southern Guatemalan Mayas and their Teotihuacan homeland.

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The Afterlife in Exile: Butterfly Imagery on Teotihuacan-style Censers from the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. Annabeth Headrick, Dorie Reents-Budet. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429475)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14395

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