Bark Beaters and Cloth Production in the Classic Maya Area

Author(s): Traci Ardren

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Textile Tools and Technologies as Evidence for the Fiber Arts in Precolumbian Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

While bark cloth and paper are well known in the ethnographic and artistic records of Pacific and African cultures, due to preservation concerns these important plant based products have been challenging to investigate in the precolumbian cultures of the New World. Often our only proxy for bark cloth is the presence of stone bark beaters in the archaeological record. This paper presents a survey of bark beaters from the Classic Maya area, with attention to recent discoveries in domestic contexts that suggest bark cloth products had a variety of uses beyond their incorporation in sacred codices or almanac books. The ubiquity with which bark beaters are found in domestic settings, and their variation, can be seen as a reflection of the wide-spread usage of these tools across social classes. Bark cloth manufacture seems to have been incorporated into processes of domestic multi-crafting alongside other forms of textile and tool production. From this perspective these artifacts are strong indicators of the relationship between humans and plants in Classic Maya domestic life, and the many ways plants exerted their influence on the daily activities of household members.

Cite this Record

Bark Beaters and Cloth Production in the Classic Maya Area. Traci Ardren. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451883)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23221