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Garbage of the Gods? Squatters, Refuse Disposal, and Termination Rituals among the Ancient Maya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Travis W. Stanton
Affiliation:
Departamento de Antropología, Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, Sta. Catarina Mártir, S/N, Cholula, Puebla, C.P. 72820, México (travis.william@udlap.mx)
M. Kathryn Brown
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas, Arlington, 601 South Nedderman Drive, Room 430, Arlington, TX 76019 (katbrown@uta.edu)
Jonathan B. Pagliaro
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275 (jpagliar@mail.smu.edu)

Abstract

Differentiating the material patterning between domestic refuse from squatters and ceremonial trash generated from termination rituals has been difficult for Maya archaeologists. Rich floor assemblages, especially from elite contexts, have been interpreted as “decadent” squatter refuse by some researchers and the remains of abandonment rituals by others. The identification and separation of these classes of behavior are essential for interpretations of floor assemblages. In this paper, we examine data from numerous contexts, in order to contextualize the debate over the interpretation of these two models. Ethnoarchaeological, ethnohistoric, and archaeological data indicate that close scrutiny of the context and material composition of such deposits are needed to distinguish these very different classes of behavior.

Resumen

Resumen

El patrón material entre el desecho doméstico y los restos de los rituales de destrucción calculados, o depósitos de rituales de terminación, ha sido difícil de diferenciar para los arqueólogos en el área maya. Los conjuntos de artefactos de piso, especialmente de contextos de la élite, son interpretados como desecho de ocupación por algunos investigadores y como restos de rituales de abandono violento por otros. La identificación y separación de estas clases de comportamiento son esenciales para la interpretación de los conjuntos de pisos. En este trabajo, examinamos información de varios contextos para obtener una lista de características preliminares diseñada para distinguir depósitos rituales de desecho doméstico. Información etnoarqueológica, etnohistórica y arqueológica de tales depósitos indica que un buen análisis del contexto y de la composición de los materiales de los depósitos puede ayudar a distinguir diferentes clases de comportamiento.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2008

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Garbage of the Gods? Squatters, Refuse Disposal, and Termination Rituals among the Ancient Maya
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Garbage of the Gods? Squatters, Refuse Disposal, and Termination Rituals among the Ancient Maya
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