Emerging Elite Economies: A Diachronic Perspective of Obsidian Distribution in the Belize River Valley




Kersey, Kimberly M.

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Trade and exchange networks in ancient Mesoamerica were composed of dynamic, interlaced systems defined by a variety of relationships among people from many regions. While the precise nature of these systems remains elusive, new and refined techniques of trace element analysis has allowed for obsidian to be sourced to its place of origin with near 100% certainty. The diversity and density of obsidian recovered from Formative period ritual, burial, and construction contexts at the emerging centers of Blackman Eddy and Cahal Pech indicate that interactive spheres of trade and exchange of this commodity were well-established at this early date. The obsidian source data reinforces the notion that particular sources were episodically exploited through time. Factors such as emerging social complexity, accumulation of wealth, implementation of authority, and competition will be explored in light of the development of inter-regional trade and exchange networks. With the data acquired from past and recent excavations, and examination of obsidian source data, it is possible to reconstruct obsidian distribution which can be used to examine ancient ritual economies of these early groups in the Belize Valley during the Formative period.



Obsidian, social archaeology, trade routes, mineralogy, archaeology, history, Belize River Valley


Kersey, K. M. (2006). Emerging elite economies: A diachronic perspective of obsidian distribution in the Belize River Valley (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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