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Lithic Industry in a Maya Center: An Axe Workshop at El Pilar, Belize

Abstract

Cahal Tok (Place of Flint) is a limestone rise with some structural evidence, associated with the previously designated LDF Chert Site, close to the ceremonial center of El Pilar. Excavations uncovered evidence that during the Late Classic period, specialized flintknappers produced bifaces, primarily chert axes, at the Cahol Tok locus, first on a cleared limestone shelf then on a prepared cobble platform. Small flakes remained in situ whereas much of the larger debris was deposited to the east off the edge of the platform and into the LDF debitage dump. The identification of a specialized manufacturing locale near the ceremonial precinct of a major center is unusual in Maya archaeology. Central control of an important industry may be implied, although knapping could equally well be organized more independently. We expect that small industrial areas are actually present at most large sites, but may often be difficult to recognize.

Cahal Tok (Lugar de Pedernal) es una pequeña elevación de piedra caliza con alguna evidencia estructural asociada al previamente designado “LDF lugar de pedernal” cercano al centro ceremonial de El Pilar. Las excavaciones han encontrado evidencia de un taller de especialistas en trabajo de pedernal durante el Clásico Tardío. En este taller se producían hachas de pedernal, inicialmente sobre una losa de piedra caliza, y posteriormente sobre una plataforma adoquinada. Se encontraron lascas pequeñas in situ, pero los pedazos grandes habían sido removidos al basurero fuera del límite oriente de la plataforma. La identificación de un taller de manufactura especializada cercano a un recinto ceremonial prominente es un acontecimiento raro en la arqueología Maya. Esto puede implicar el control central de una industria importante, pero también puede ser posible que el taller estuviera organizado de manera independiente. Anticipamos la presencia de pequeñas áreas industriales en la mayoría de los centros prominentes, pero estas áreas pueden ser difíciles de reconocer.

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