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Imperfect beeswax production in the land of honey—Yucatán, Mexico

Author(s): Maia Dedrick ; Iván Batún Alpuche ; Patricia McAnany

Year: 2017

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Spanish encomenderos and friars demanded beeswax from their subjects in Yucatán, Mexico, during the early Colonial period. This wax was harvested from beehives infrequently used for wax production in pre-Hispanic times—instead the focus throughout the long history of beekeeping in the region was on honey. In fact, indigenous honeybees, from the genus Melipona, make an impure wax in low quantities, which would have made candle production difficult. These candles were important for Catholic ceremonies and the process of conversion. This paper considered evidence of beehive production from a Colonial house situated within one small community in Yucatán, Mexico, and connect the local histories of honey and wax production to the complicated trajectory of Spanish conquest in the region. It is considered that the nature of local wax ecology and production as well as the quantities of wax demanded from communities based on historical tax records, comparing this information to tribute records from other regions in which people experienced early Spanish colonialism.

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Imperfect beeswax production in the land of honey—Yucatán, Mexico. Maia Dedrick, Iván Batún Alpuche, Patricia McAnany. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430776)


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): 14440

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