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Intra-Site Obsidian Distribution and Consumption Patterns in Northern Belize and the North-Eastern Peten

Helen R. Haines and Michael D. Glascock


Long-distance trade of obsidian in the Maya realm has been documented as early as the Middle Formative Period (1000-400 BC). Obsidian exchange continued in each succeeding period, through the Post-Classic (AD 900-1525), varying in both intensity and source of origin. It is the temporal variations in source utilisation that have formed the basis for obsidian research in the Maya area. By focusing on the origin of the obsidian and the temporal context these studies provide valuable information in documenting shifts in source utilisation. This work focuses on the distribution and consumption of obsidian on an intra-site scale with an intent to determine if variation in source utilisation can be attributed directly or indirectly to contextual variations. Forthe purposes of this study three types of context were identified, functional, archaeological and social. Information regarding obsidian consumption was compiled from ten sites and two survey areas spanning four geographic regions across Northern Belize and North-eastern Peten.