Patterns in Seal Iconography: A Frequency Model




Smith, Suzanne Lee

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In this thesis I explore iconography displayed on flat and roller seals manufactured during the Preclassic era in five Maya regions in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras as well as two collections of seals of the same age from Ecuador and Peru. I gathered a corpus of images and established 21 categories of basic motifs. As background to the analysis of seal iconography, I discuss the history of the Preclassic period in terms of large scale political organization and seals as tools in social interaction and ritual. Next, I describe sites and seal assemblages included in this study. Analysis includes examining the frequencies of basic motifs, iconographic interpretations and similarities between sites and regions. Structural analysis shows iconography was chosen from a range of ancient motifs, executed with wide variation, with particular similarities that suggest directly shared practices. The frequency model put forth in this thesis reflects how seals were utilized in early symbolic communication and to display cultural identities.



seals, inscriptions, iconography, communication, culture, Mayas


Smith, S. L. (2009). Patterns in seal iconography: A frequency model (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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