Chemical Analyses of Obsidian from Classic Maya Paynes Creek Salt Works, Belize

Author(s): E. Cory Sills; Heather McKillop

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Paynes Creek Salt Works were an ancient Maya Classic Period (A.D. 300-900) salt industry located in a shallow salt water lagoon in southern Belize. The rise of the Paynes Creek Salt Works mirrored the growth in population at inland communities during the Late Classic Period (A. D. 600-900) where salt—a basic biological necessity—was scarce. The demand for salt and other marine resources underscores the importance of coastal trade. Small amounts of ceramic pottery from inland sites has been recovered from survey and excavation at the Paynes Creek Salt Works suggesting that inland cities were consumers of coastal salt. Forty obsidian blades were collected from systematic flotation survey between 2005 and 2008. These blades were assayed using a portable X-ray fluorescence in order to obtain the qualitative data to source the material as well as quantitative data to compare with other published obsidian sources. Assigning Maya obsidian artifacts to their geological source locations by chemical characterization is useful for reconstructing trade routes between the volcanic highland outcrops and lowland Maya consumers of obsidian. Identifying the source locations of obsidian from the Paynes Creek Salt Works will aid in the identification of the consumers of Paynes Creek salt.

Cite this Record

Chemical Analyses of Obsidian from Classic Maya Paynes Creek Salt Works, Belize. E. Cory Sills, Heather McKillop. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449552)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24873