CE27 - Études du passé, patrimoines, cultures

Exchanges and transfers of prestige goods between the Maya and Costa Rican areas between AD 300 and AD 700 – MAYACOSTA

Submission summary

During the classic period (AD 250-950), the Maya interacted with many neighboring cultures, however, little is known about their interactions with more distant societies. Important quantities of iron ore mirrors and jade plaques, associated with the Maya elites, were thus found in Costa Rica some 1000 km away (AD 300-700). In the Maya area, Spondylus shells were often found in elite burials, but are absent from the Pacific coasts close to this area and abundant in the waters bordering Costa Rica. This project proposes to bring together archaeologists, archaeometers, traceologists and archaeozoologists to determine the areas of origin of these prestigious goods and to understand the nature and modalities of the relations between these regions.

We will review all the available archaeological data on the studied objects in order to document their contexts and chronological frameworks. The study of their provenance will involve the chemical analyses of the stones and adhesives by a set of spectroscopic, chromatographic, datation and isotopic techniques. The manufacturing microtraces of stones will be characterized using traceology in order to understand the lapidary techniques and to determine whether they were imported or locally worked. Spondylus materials found in the Maya area will be submitted to malacological and isotopic analyses in order to distinguish their geographic sources. The iconographic and epigraphic study of the corpus of plaques and mirrors will enable us to document their origin, date and status in the Maya area. Finally, all data will be cross-referenced by being placed in geographic and chronological contexts in order to understand the distributions, productions, reuse and functions of these goods in the two regions. This project will enable us to rethink the old distinctions between what is called Mesoamerica and what is often considered as an "intermediate area" in order to define the entities composing them in a far more dynamic fashion.

Project coordination

Matthieu Ménager (Amérique Latine)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


ARCHAM Archéologie des Ameriques
GEOSCIENCES MONTP. Université de Montpellier
Amérique Latine
AASPE Archéozoologie, archéobotanique, Sociétés, pratiques et environnements
IMBE Institut méditerranéen de biodiversité et d'écologie marine et continentale

Help of the ANR 540,315 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 48 Months

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