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Celtiform Pendants from Pre-Columbian Costa Rica

Production, distribution, and experimental replication

Waka Kuboyama-Haraikawa
Publication Year:
English, with an abstract in Spanish
168 pages
BAR number:


This volume elucidates the lapidary technologies and social organisation of pre-Columbian Costa Rica (500 BCE - 900 CE) by analysing the manufacturing and social role of lapidary ornaments, known as celtiform pendants. These pendants are characterised by skilfully decorated carvings on celtiform semiprecious rocks and minerals, such as jadeite. A human or animal face is carved on the poll of the axe, and these sophisticated images require large amounts of time and effort to create, hence they are interpreted as status symbols and prestigious objects. They represent a thousand years of tradition of the manufacture of high-status ornaments and were used by elite members of Indigenous Costa Rican societies. Although ancient Costa Rican society was formed by different social-cultural groups, to some extent societal integration was achieved by a widely shared material culture: celtiform pendants. In addition to stylistic evaluations of these objects in specific sites and features, the text examines their manufacture via experimental archaeology and traceology.

Waka Kuboyama-Haraikawa has a Ph.D. in archaeology from the University of Southampton. She is a special researcher for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

‘The author’s applications of experimental archaeology and techniques, such as (RTI), are innovatively conceived and executed.’ Professor John W. Hoopes, University of Kansas 

'This book is highly original and timely. The research is paradigm-shifting in quality and impact. The methods and results are likely to raise the empirical and theoretical status of research on the lapidary traditions of ancient Costa Rica to an entirely new level, constituting a dramatic update of research approaches in the field.' Professor David Mora-Marín, University of North Carolina

Table of Contents (S3138_Kuboyama-Haraikawa_9781407314969_-_contents.pdf, 311 Kb) [Download]