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Economic Integration and Obsidian Consumption in the Late Postclassic Period K'iche’ Region

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 December 2022

Rachel A. Horowitz*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

Abstract

Although much research has been conducted on the Late Postclassic period Maya, there has been relatively less study of the role of economic activities in political management during this period. Many such studies focused on obsidian analysis and technology as proxies for trade and exchange. This article builds on that research, using a legacy collection of obsidian implements collected during archaeological surveys in the 1970s to examine Late Postclassic period (AD 1200–1524) economic networks in the K'iche’ region. Obsidian collections from the site of Q'umarkaj and the surrounding region were examined through technological and geochemical analyses. I find that during the Late Postclassic period, K'iche’ elites had more access to nonlocal obsidian sources than did non-elites, but that access to locally available sources was managed through independent and diverse acquisition networks. Thus, the K'iche’ elite were not dependent on local economies as a main source of political power.

Resumen

Resumen

Si bien se han realizado muchas investigaciones sobre el período posclásico tardío maya, se ha estudiado relativamente menos el papel de las actividades económicas en la gestión política durante este período. Muchos de estos estudios se han centrado en el análisis de la obsidiana y la tecnología como indicadores del comercio y el intercambio. Este trabajo se basa en dicha investigación, utilizando una colección de implementos de obsidiana recolectados durante estudios arqueológicos en la década de 1970 para examinar las redes económicas del período posclásico tardío (1200–1524 dC) en la región de K'iche'. Las colecciones de obsidiana del sitio de Q'umarkaj y de la región circundante fueron examinadas mediante análisis tecnológicos y geoquímicos. Este trabajo concluye que, durante el posclásico tardío, las élites K'iche' tenían más acceso a las fuentes de obsidiana no locales que las no élites, pero que el acceso a las fuentes disponibles localmente se gestionaba a través de redes de adquisición independientes y diversas. Así, la élite K'iche' no dependía de las economías locales como fuente principal de poder político.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for American Archaeology

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