Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Geography & Anthropology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Terry Powis

My research does not have any human participation and did not need IRB apporval.

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Ancient Maya had one of the most complex societies in the New World. Their society was driven by the production of goods, including items made from stone, bone and shell. to shell objects were made into various shapes including pendants, bracelets and beads, possibly used for jewelry or as currency. At Pacbitun, located in west central Belize, 1,000’s of shell items in the form of beads have been found in and around homes that date to the Middle Preclassic period. Beads as well as marine detritus and chert drills have been found together indicating they were produced on site. This project focuses on the technology used to produce the shell beads to see if it can be reproduced to gain a better understanding about how the Maya were creating them. Experimental archaeology will be used to attempt to recreate the process to determine how they were producing the beads.

Project Type

Poster

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A Technological Analysis of Ancient Maya Shell Beads from Pacbitun, Belize

Ancient Maya had one of the most complex societies in the New World. Their society was driven by the production of goods, including items made from stone, bone and shell. to shell objects were made into various shapes including pendants, bracelets and beads, possibly used for jewelry or as currency. At Pacbitun, located in west central Belize, 1,000’s of shell items in the form of beads have been found in and around homes that date to the Middle Preclassic period. Beads as well as marine detritus and chert drills have been found together indicating they were produced on site. This project focuses on the technology used to produce the shell beads to see if it can be reproduced to gain a better understanding about how the Maya were creating them. Experimental archaeology will be used to attempt to recreate the process to determine how they were producing the beads.