March 8th GAAS meeting: Obsidian for the dead

Submitted by Dr. Zachary Hruby (Georgia State University)

GAAS_logo_150Please join us on Tuesday, March 8th at 7 PM for the regular monthly meeting of the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society. The meeting will be at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, 30307.

Dr. Zachary Hruby is a visiting lecturer in the Anthropology Department at Georgia State University. His research foci are lithic technology, epigraphy, and iconography of the Ancient Maya and Mesoamerica in general. He has conducted field work and lithic analysis at the sites of Piedras Negras (for the Ph.D.), Kaminaljuyu, El Zotz, Salama, Quirigua and Eastern Guatemala, and Holmul. Dr. Hruby also works on hunters and gathers and complex hunters and gatherers from the western United States and the Pacific Northwest. His most recent research includes lithic analysis at the Classic Maya site of El Zotz, and an analysis of giant obsidian bifaces from Tuluwat Island in Humboldt County California.

For decades Maya archaeologists have explained the inclusion of flint and obsidian in royal tomb deposits as an elaborate means of waste disposal or in vague symbolic terms. These interpretations have never benefitted from a detailed technological analysis of the debitage itself. This presentation compares three royal tombs from El Peru-Waka, Piedras Negras, and El Zotz dating to the Early and Late Classic periods. In addition to a first ever technological analysis of tomb lithics, interpretations based on iconography, tomb goods, and the configuration of the debitage itself are made to reconstruct ancient Maya burial ritual in a social context.