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Caches in the court: the ideological significance of eccentric lithics from Ballcourt 2, Xunantunich

Lee, Jordan Abigail (2022) Caches in the court: the ideological significance of eccentric lithics from Ballcourt 2, Xunantunich. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Xunantunich was a prominent Maya city in the Belize River Valley during the Late (600-800 AD) and Terminal (800-900 AD) Classic periods. Excavations in 2018 by the Xunantunich Archaeology and Conservation Project (XACP), a branch of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project (BVAR), revealed a total of four caches containing over 80 eccentric lithics, three (3) stingray spines, several freshwater snail shells, and two (2) ceramic vessels, placed lip-to-lip, that were deposited along the playing alley of Ballcourt 2. Eccentric lithics are stone objects that the Classic Maya knapped into unusual, nonutilitarian forms. Their shapes represent human, animal and celestial figures and they are not used in domestic or utilitarian settings. This research analyzed the eccentrics and associated artifacts from the Ballcourt 2 caches to determine their ideological significance. My research provides evidence that the eccentrics at Ballcourt 2 were cached in groups of deified numbers, and were arranged as cosmograms, or physical and symbolic representations of the layout of the Maya universe. My research contends that eccentrics were important symbols that act as characters in retelling the story of the Maya cosmos, and that their purpose was to materialize concepts of Maya cosmology, religion, and political power into the physical world. The act of caching eccentrics provided life-sustaining substances to the monumental architecture under which they lay, protecting and memorializing them, connecting them to the past and present, and opening portals to the Otherworlds.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Eccentric Lithics; Eccentrics; Ideology; Lithic Analysis; Maya Archaeology; Maya Cosmology; Xunantunich Site (Belize)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 22 May 2023 21:50
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 21:50
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5896

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