Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 56 (2019) 101108
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Shattered: Object fragmentation and social enchainment in the eastern Maya lowlands
Shawn G. Mortona, , Jaime J. Aweb, David M. Pendergastc ⁎
Arts and Education Department, Grande Prairie Regional College, 10726 106 Avenue, Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4, Canada Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, 5 E. McConnell Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5200, USA c Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK b
Keywords: Maya Mesoamerica Fragmentation Enchainment Social network Ritual
Archaeologists are often confronted with broken objects, and the recovery of only part of an object therefore rarely causes us to question why we have not recovered more. But what if this is a mistake? What if, in ignoring this question, we are failing to consider the socio-cultural role that the fragments themselves may have played? In this paper we address these questions, outlining a particular pattern of intentional breakage and the subsequent distribution of the resulting fragments across multiple distinct locales/individuals. We align our discussion with the related concepts of fragmentation and enchainment and apply these to a dataset derived from study of the ancient Maya of Belize. Contexts discussed in this paper are of a decidedly ritual nature, including deep caves, tombs and burials, caches, and other deposits. We suggest that we have been remiss in treating such contexts in isolation, and that the scale of ritual studies within the Maya area needs to be expanded from those focused on individual deposits to broad analyses on the landscape or regional scale. Such studies must explicitly seek out variability within this corpus as it is clear that even small sites may have served as important nodes within larger networks.
1. Introduction Save in the most exceptional of circumstances, the material remnants of the past consist of fragments—ceramic sherds, lithic debitage, tattered textiles, and collapsed architecture. The archaeological record is still more fragmentary, the end product of sampling strategies that at best provide a small window on the past. It would be a remarkable occurrence were we to recover a wholly reconstructable pot from a halfexcavated sheet midden, construction cell, or the like, and recovery of only part of an object therefore rarely causes us to question why we have not recovered more. We are trained to look beyond these fragments, to see the whole objects from which they are derived, and to construct object biographies that, in turn, serve to illuminate the lives of those who made, exchanged, used, and ultimately discarded our objects of study. To borrow from a common idiom, our training typically ensures that we rarely fail to see the pot for the sherds. But what if this is a mistake? What if, in focusing on fragments as the remnants of a whole object, we fail to consider the socio-cultural role that the fragments themselves may have played? In this paper, we consider a particular pattern of material use and deposition, that is, the intentional breakage of objects and the distribution of the resulting fragments
among several distinct locales/individuals. We introduce this concept and address its past formulations through its novel application to a dataset derived from the socio-political context of the ancient Maya of Belize. Although this pattern of fragment deposition, and its associated implications, has rarely been discussed in the Maya context (cf. DeLance, 2016; Lucero, 2008; Tsukamoto, 2017), it has been noted frequently and informally. In comparison, its practice among Europe’s first farmers, animal breeders, and settlers (c. 7000–700 BCE) has been well demonstrated and widely discussed (e.g., Brück, 2004, 2006; Chapman, 2000, 2008; Harris, 2009; Jones, 2005). In the European context, it has been noted that both special and mundane objects (though analyses tend to focus on the special) were exchanged, accumulated, broken, and intentionally deposited in sometimes widely separated locations and specialised contexts. Significantly, the suggestion is that this pattern of deposition explicitly served to create, maintain, and alter social relationships. This pattern is typically expressed and discussed as two inter-related material and social processes termed ‘fragmentation’ and ‘enchainment’ (Chapman, 2000; cf. Brittain and Harris, 2010). Although both fragmentation and enchainment find homographs in sociological theory (wholly unrelated to their
Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: [email protected]
(S.G. Morton), [email protected]
(J.J. Awe), [email protected]
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2019.101108 Received 29 April 2019; Received in revised form 28 August 2019 0278-4165/ Crown Copyright © 2019 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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seems to preclude the possibility that it was the product of mere chance, and it seems clear that it was intentional, patterned, and is very likely to have been symbolically important, though the specific meaning remains obscure (Awe, 1992, 2013; Peniche-May et al., 2018). We will return to this example, in more detail, later in this manuscript. Many other objects seem to have been similarly dispatched at Maya sites, however, given the diversity of contexts in which intentional breakage occurred, it is neither our purpose in this paper to read specific ritual symbolism into such breakage, nor to quantify the relative rate of breakage by material type—these concerns lie well outside our focus on a secondary pattern of fragment distribution and its potential social consequences. Even so, demonstrating the existence of a practise of fragment distribution similar to the one described in our introduction—going beyond mere breakage, to the intentional distribution of the resulting fragments in multiple distinct locales—remains challenging. Our most clearly ubiquitous evidence for this comes from the Belizean cave context, though it appears similarly present at the region’s surface sites and is perhaps common across the Maya area as a whole. It is to the cave context, however, that we first wish to draw the reader’s attention. Although the preservation afforded by the cave context is without parallel in the tropical lowlands, it remains a challenging environment in which to work, not least owing to a distinct absence of stratigraphic control in most subterranean sites. The detritus of a thousand years or more of human activity typically occupies a single horizontal plain, producing a confusing palimpsest of overlapping activity areas and disturbed deposits. It should not be surprising, then, to find that scholars working within the cave environment across the Maya area have tended to spend more time on identifying discrete activity areas and characterising their spatial context, than on defining links between deposits or on identifying specific ritual sets (cf. Helmke, 2009). This is not intended as a critique, and indeed, before any other studies can take place it is necessary first to identify such areas and contexts. In recent decades, sophisticated approaches utilizing Geographic Information Systems and simple spatial statistics have been employed to great effect in this effort (Herrmann, 2002; Moyes, 2001; 2002). Under the auspices of Awe’s Western Belize Regional Cave Project, at both Actun Tunichil Mucnal and Chechem Ha, Holley Moyes pioneered such an approach to associate identified deposits with particular morphological or physiographic features of the cavescape (Moyes, 2001; 2002; 2006). Although individual objects or portions thereof, deposited in isolation, are readily apparent, her analyses additionally identified discrete linear distributions and statistically significant clustering of artefacts located adjacent to cave walls (Moyes and Awe, 1998). Prufer (2002) identifies similar linear arrangements in caves both in the Ek Xux and Muklebal Tzul valleys of the Maya Mountains. The deposits tend to comprise commingled assemblages of broken objects of mixed classes, although ceramics often dominate. Two suggestions have been put forward that may explain the pattern. First, reinterpreting Andrews’s work at the Gruta de Chac, Yucatán, Thompson (2005 : xxxix-xli) suggests that such deposits mark a distinct pattern of secondary treatment of ritual offerings. Based on Andrews’ (1965: 11) description of early jars of “beautiful black-and-red-on-orange polychrome ware with brightly painted necks and lugs,” Thompson (2005 : xli) suggests that, rather than the remains of water containers accidentally broken in passage through the cave, the objects were offerings made to the rain god Chac, and were periodically moved to the passage margins as they became barriers to further activity. The practice of primary deposition with periodic secondary ‘cleaning’ has long been suggested archaeologically (Brady et al., 2009: 55-56; Coe, 1959; Freidel, 1986; Freidel and Schele, 1989; MacLeod and Puleston, 1978: 72; Pendergast, 1971; Wrobel et al., 2010) and is discussed in the contemporary ethnographic context by both Vogt (1976: 102) and Brown (2004: 36). A recent study in western Belize has served to refine our understanding of the process. Based on work conducted at Cuychen, a remarkable cave located high in an exposed cliff face of the Macal River
invocation in anthropology), in the archaeological context they typically invoke aspects of cognitive archaeology, place-making, embodiment, and theories of dwelling. Broken objects that in some sense continue to represent the whole despite their fragmentary condition—or perhaps precisely owing to their fragmentation in what is presumably a ritual context—served as anchors in a social network expressed, possibly at a level as broad as the landscape, through the process of their distribution across multiple locales and/or the retention of fragments of objects by individuals or groups. At the risk of drawing the ire of post-modern theorists, in this case the assumption is explicitly that pots (as well as other objects) do in some sense represent people, or rather, the relationships between agents (whether people, supernatural entities, or places) intentionally marked out across their landscapes. In Europe, it is largely owing to the sweeping command of the archaeological record possessed by established scholars such as John Chapman and Joanna Brück that the depositional pattern in question was identified. The ability not only to mark the fingerprints of intentional breakage but also to make demonstrable connections between similarly broken objects at other locales requires an extraordinary familiarity with a region’s material and scholarly record. Furthermore, it requires that the archaeological record of a region has been studied, both in great depth and in great breadth. There are few regions in the Maya area that satisfy these requirements; Belize is very much the exception, and it should therefore not come as a surprise that this region serves as the focus for the discussion that follows (Fig. 1). 2. The opportunity: Archaeology in Belize Over the last several decades, intensive research within Belize has revealed that the ancient Maya of this eastern frontier were well-integrated, influential, and tenaciously durable in the greater preColumbian Maya story. Belize has been home to human populations since the end of the Pleistocene (Paleo-Indian period; before 12,000 BCE – 10,000 BCE [Posth et al., 2018; Prufer et al., 2017]), followed by a well-defined Archaic period (10,000 BCE – 1200/900 BCE [Lohse et al., 2006; Solmo, 2017; Stemp and Awe, 2013; Stemp et al., 2016]), before the rise of some of the earliest culturally identifiable Maya (or, proto-Maya) centres in Mesoamerica (consisting of the Late Early to Middle Formative Cunil and Kanocha complexes in western Belize and the Swasey and Bolay complexes in northern Belize, beginning ca. 1100 BCE [see Awe, 1992; Freidel, 1977; Garber et al., 2004; Gerhardt, 1988; Hammond, 1977, 1991; Healy et al., 2004; Maynard, 1988; Valdez, 1987]). The pre-Columbian centres of Belize were also some of the last to be abandoned, with inhabitants at places like Lamanai continuing to service inland and coastal trade routes during the Post-Classic (Aimers, 2007; Pendergast, 1983, 1985) and, in some cases, well into the postConquest 16th century CE (Graham, 1998). From the ground-breaking settlement research of Gordon Willey (Willey et al., 1965), to some of the first regionally integrated cave projects (Awe, 1998), to the early adoption of space age remote sensing technologies (Chase et al., 2011), researchers working in Belize have pushed forward the discipline of Maya archaeology. While it may be frustrating for some of our colleagues to work in such a heavily studied region, it is only through this density of research and atmosphere of collaborative collegiality that we are able to address sophisticated questions familiar to our colleagues in socio-cultural anthropology, sociology, and human geography. It is only in this environment that we find a research analogue to that of our European-focused colleagues. 3. The pattern: Fragmentation and enchainment Archaeologists routinely encounter broken objects. That many objects were intentionally broken through ritual action is similarly axiomatic. Middle Formative levels from Cahal Pech, in western Belize, have yielded dozens of anthropomorphic ceramic figurines, many with their heads snapped off (Fig. 2). The regular form of this breakage 2
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Fig. 1. Map of Belize showing the location of prominent sites discussed in the text. Complements: S. Morton.
Valley, Helmke and colleagues (2012: 80; 2015) suggest that the intentional breakage (or termination) of objects and ritual cleansing of the site may have taken the form of a suspended ritual event, linking the close of any particular event with the beginning of the subsequent one. Termination involved the modification of a votive offering, often in the form of a kill hole, chipping, or more extensive breakage (e.g., ReentsBudet, 1994: 198; Thompson, 1959: 125), effectively disassociating the object from the cultural realm in which it had existed. At Cuychen, where the investigators conducted a complete excavation of the solitary 4 m × 5 m space, they noted that many sherds seemed to have been haphazardly swept to spots near the cave walls, presumably the apparent product of ‘cleaning’ and hence are found in a linear distribution, whereas others may have been swept from the cave’s exposed entrance. The fact that several centrally placed offerings had been fragmented but were otherwise left in place suggests that the ‘cleaning’ took place at the opening of the subsequent ritual act (Fig. 3). The same observation was made decades earlier by Pendergast (1971) in
reference to broken but relatively complete pottery vessels found on high ledges in Eduardo Quiroz cave. In any case, it is easy to imagine how the random redistribution of broken objects could result in a lack of fully reconstructable objects in any single deposit. It should also be clear that, based on the definition of fragmentation, above, this activity does not qualify as such. An alternative suggestion by both Moyes and Prufer is that deposits near cave walls may indicate boundaries and may have been deposited as part of a ritual circuit. Prufer (2002: 621-622), in particular, offers the view that, “Ritual circuits and associated offerings are fundamental to the organization of specialist-[mediated] activities…. (Hanks, 1990: 337; Redfield [and] Villa Rojas, 1962: 176; Sosa, 1985: 343-344).” In reference to Chab’il Uk’al, Mayehal Xheton, and Tusbil Pek, in the Maya Mountains, Prufer (2002: 632) notes that most of the sherds identified in linear clusters adjacent to walls do not seem to represent complete vessels, and hence provide little evidence that they were broken in situ (i.e., by smashing them against the wall). He suggests instead that the 3
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Fig. 2. Examples of figurine heads recovered from Formative deposits at Cahal Pech. Complements: J. Awe.
Fig. 3. Main chamber of Cuychen illustrating accumulation of material from subsequent cycles of object breakage and redistribution. Complements: S. Morton.
vessels were destroyed elsewhere, perhaps still within the cave, and distributed in conspicuous linear arrangements. He was not able to adduce examples to support the interpretation, but Helmke’s (2009: 253) work does provide such support. He notes that articulating sherds from a single vessel were recovered from several widely separated chambers within Labarinto de las Tarántulas, in the Roaring Creek River Valley, although he does not mention linear distributions. The intentionality suggested by this movement much more closely satisfies our expectations for a formal process of fragmentation. At Cuychen, in addition to linear arrangements, it appears that in some cases following destruction of a vessel some ceramic sherds were gathered and re-deposited away from their point of breakage as discrete, grouped clusters. The highly ornate Cuychen vase (Helmke et al., 2015: 20-21, Fig. 12) may serve as a prime example of this deliberate activity, as only about two-thirds of the vessel were recovered, distributed in four distinct clusters. It remains possible that the missing portions of the vessel may have been tossed from the cave mouth, but it may also be that some sherds were removed from the cave to be deposited at another site (Helmke et al., 2012: 80; 2015). In retrospect, the fragmentary Actun Balam vase reported by Pendergast (1969) may be seen to serve as an even stronger example of such behaviour (Fig. 4). The spatial arrangement of Actun Balam, located in the Chiquibul of west-central Belize, precludes the possibility that any part of the vessel could have been removed from the cave by any means other than human agency—the vessel being found in a terminal chamber below a vertical opening. In other words, the vase was either deposited as a partial vessel, or fragments were subsequently removed.1
Other examples of the practice were recorded by Awe at two locales within Actun Tunichil Muknal. On a small ledge designated as the Stela Chamber, Awe and his colleagues (2005) discovered two slate monuments, two obsidian blood letters, a slate carved with the image of Tlaloc, and fragments of at least four ceramic vessels. Two of the vessels were represented by most of the fragments of a molded-carved vase and a Roaring Creek Red dish. An intense search of the small ledge did not reveal any of the missing fragments of either vessel. Deeper inside of the cave, Awe and his colleagues recorded several other examples of object fragmentation and partial removal. In one example, a large redware dish was smashed, several of the fragments were subsequently placed on top of each other within a small niche, and one of the vessel’s tripod legs was broken off and deposited several meters away on a different ledge. In other cases, two zoomorphic ocarinas and several metates were found in the cave’s Main Chamber, but several fragments were missing. In broader view, it seems quite likely that material was moved not only within but also between caves (Prufer, 2002: 623) and other sites. It is at this point that the concept of enchainment comes into play. The suggestion is that the prime symbolic aspect of the pattern of distribution is the perceived maintenance of links among various fragments, the locations in which they are deposited, the specific ritual purpose behind their distribution (perhaps liturgical), the supernatural entities that may occupy those places or may be invoked in those rituals, and the people responsible for their deposition. Such broader patterns of distribution are hinted at in the assemblage recovered from
(footnote continued) fortune, a number of additional sherds were subsequently recovered in a farmyard far from the cave. At the time, Pendergast was informed that further sherds remained in the hands of local villagers, but we can also consider the possibility that at least some of the missing sherds had actually been removed in antiquity.
1 Pendergast (1969: xx) notes that this is precisely what happened in modern times. Several sherds of the vase had been removed from the cave and were subsequently handed to the then District Commissioner of Cayo District, Mr. Thomas Sabido. Through a remarkable effort, and no small measure of good
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Fig. 5. Shell disc from Actun Neko. Complements: J. Awe.
In the neighbouring Sibun River Valley, Kenward (2005) notes that small collections of broken ceramics and other objects were found near the entrances of several small caves. Following the ethnographic example of the Kaqchikel, she suggests that the caves were used as shortcuts to pass through the egg carton-like karst of the region, and that the artefacts were left as small tokens or offerings in exchange for passage. Although the specific content of these offerings is unclear, it seems that they may have taken the form of simple broken sherds or other small objects of little economic value. The morphological characteristics of Junction Cave would have prevented its use as a passage, but the association of the cave with two causeways could be seen as an analogous context and hence a possible scene of analogous behaviour. A second and potentially related distributional pattern common in Belizean caves appears to be the highly concentrated deposition of large volumes of commingled artefacts, mostly ceramic. Thompson interprets such deposits in the context of the annual renewal rituals ethnographically attested in many parts of Mesoamerica (see various chapters in Mock, 1998). Although the usual pattern of deposition associated with these rites is in local prescribed middens, Thompson suggests that caves may have occasionally been similarly employed in the ancient past. He invokes this model to interpret the large quantities of broken ceramic vessels found in a cave near Pusilha (Thompson, 2005 : xxxix). The assemblage—which included coarse unslipped vessels as well as fine monochrome and polychrome examples, together with pieces of imported volcanic ground stone, fragments of chert and obsidian points, obsidian cores, animal and human remains, and sandstone ‘crescents'—was apparently cast into the cave from a hole in the ceiling (Joyce et al., 1928: 343-346). Thompson reports that a second cave, found the following year in the same area, repeated these conditions (Thompson, 2005 : xxxix). Farther north at Actun Balam, Pendergast’s (1969) excavations in Chamber C produced some 22,000 sherds, apparently dumped in a similar manner through a chimney. He notes that the ceramics represent a diverse mix and range in date from the early Late Classic to the Terminal Classic or early Postclassic (Pendergast, 1969: 58). At the time, the closest known surface site of a significant size that could have served as the source of the ‘elite’ polychromes and other exotic materials in the assemblage, was Caracol, located approximately 20 km to the north-west, which suggested to Pendergast that the cave might have served as a focus for pilgrimage from the major centre. Brady and Rodas (1995) describe a deposit similar to the material from Actun Balam that was recovered in the Cueva de los Quetzales, Guatemala, and more recently it has been suggested that another may occur in Sa’atabe, a ledge located 800 m downstream from the main entrance to Petroglyph Cave in the Caves Branch, Belize (Reents-Budet and Macleod, 1997), but thorough investigation of the deposit remains
Fig. 4. Actun Balam vase. Complements: D. Pendergast.
Overlook Rockshelter in the Caves Branch River Valley (Wrobel et al., 2013). From this small rock shelter, located high on an escarpment, complete excavation yielded nearly 1700 ceramic sherds, an assemblage that remarkably included almost no refits and certainly no whole vessels. Furthermore, as the rock shelter contained no obvious activity areas, it seems clear that vessels were not smashed in situ. Accepting that the sample may have been biased by loss down the adjacent talus slope, it must nonetheless be concluded that either a great deal of material had been systematically removed over time, or more likely, that the accumulated assemblage had been deposited in the first place as individual sherds. It is curious that human remains found at the site are similarly fragmentary and incomplete. These observations, alone, lead one to ask where the other fragments of broken objects were deposited. In other words, while helpful, it is not necessary to identify widely distributed refitting fragments to demonstrate the pattern in question. A number of other caves, located along and between the Caves Branch and Roaring Creek River valleys, exhibit the same pattern of deposition. Caves Branch River Cave, AC Cave, Actun Neko, and Actun Lubul Ha all include deposits of mixed ceramics, lithics, and faunal remains, and few completely reconstructable objects (Morton, 2018; Morton et al., 2012)—the highly conspicuous inlaid shell disc from Actun Neko, which defied attempts to locate the missing inlays despite exhaustive excavation serves as a case in point (Fig. 5). It is, however, at Junction Cave—so called because of its location adjacent to the junction of two causeways near the civic-ceremonial centre of Tipan Chen Uitz—that we find a direct, if impoverished, body of material comparable to the sample from Overlook Rockshelter (Morton, 2018). Survey revealed that the distribution of the assemblage within the limited confines of the cave was notable for its surprising sparseness and lack of discrete spatial organisation. No clusters, linear or otherwise, were noted within the cave, and limited investigation yielded only 51 sherds, including 33 from surface contexts. The surface sample contained 11 rim sherds, only six of which were identifiable by type. The majority of the assemblage is composed of coarse body sherds from unslipped and non-diagnostic slipped vessels, none of which could be refitted. 5
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to be conducted. In a revision of his earlier interpretation, Brady (2005: f-5) has suggested that distinctive conical deposits—some of which extend to more than 5 m in diameter, are 2–3 m deep, and are located below openings—represent ‘cave assemblages’ accumulated over a period spanning centuries. Although this may hold true for Los Quetzales, both Pendergast and Joyce are clear in stating that no internal subdivision or other organization of the deposits was in evidence, and hence they interpret the assemblages as massive mixed deposits. The rather unfortunately named TCU s.08 (Morton, 2018) serves as another example of this depositional pattern and ties it explicitly to the practices of fragmentation and enchainment. Located within the monumental core of Tipan Chen Uitz and sealed beneath the surface of Plaza C at some point during the Late Classic period, the entrance to the diminutive TCU s.08 belies the significance of its associated deposit. Complete excavation yielded approximately 30,000 sherds, in addition to both faunal and lithic material in notable quantity. As at Actun Balam and Sa'atabe, the artefacts were deposited via the vertical entrance, apparently dumped without regard to specific placement. Furthermore, and as elsewhere, the deposit contained a large number of incomplete vessels (including polychromes), their other portions presumably placed somewhere else. Finally, as at Actun Balam, the 100 percent sample size precludes the possibility of sampling error, and the vertical access rules out formation of the assemblage by any means other than human effort. An obvious question that arises regarding the deposits is whether they are additive or extractive (LaMotta and Schiffer, 1999). In the case of isolated large fragments of objects, we may never know if their presence was the result of deposition of the piece as found, or the result of subsequent removal of material from the deposit. In the case of large assemblages such as those at Overlook Rockshelter and TCU s.08, however, the pattern seems clear. Many behaviours within the cave context may have been extractive—Junction Cave had all of its speleothems clipped and removed, presumably in antiquity, Actun Lubul Ha appears to have been mined for clay (Morton, 2018), and there are many other examples (see Andrews, 1970: 15; Brady et al., 1997, 2005; Hatt et al., 1953: 21; Mercer, 2005 ; Prufer, 2002; Rissolo, 2001). It seems reasonable to infer, hence, that individual fragments of objects could have been removed from their location of breakage or initial deposition after the fact. Likewise, it seems highly unlikely, or at least difficult to argue convincingly, that any collection strategy employed in antiquity would show such ‘careful lack of care' to have been thorough enough to remove all but individual, non-articulating fragments of objects from large deposits such as those recovered from Overlook Rockshelter, Actun Balam, or TCU s.08. Thus, lex parsimoniae, it is likely that such artefacts were intentionally deposited as discrete, fragmented objects over time. Although the nearly ubiquitous occurrence of the pattern is perhaps most easily distinguished within the closed contexts of caves, it is clear that fragmentation and subsequent distribution were characteristic of depositional behaviours in other archaeological contexts of the region as well. One of the strengths of Chapman’s (2008: 188) study is his ability to demonstrate inter-site refitting, something that we have largely failed to replicate with the materials from the cave context. One of the best-known examples from Neolithic Europe points to the carved monoliths used in tomb construction at Gavrinis, France; it seems clear that several were originally parts of larger monuments, fragmented and distributed, with contiguous pieces having been found at La Table de Marchands, 4 km away from Gavrinis (Le Roux, 1984; see also L’Helgouach, 1983). Large carved stone monuments were also moved in the Maya area. It has long been recognised that the ‘usual’ location of such monuments is in the open plaza areas of civic-ceremonial cores, before prominent structures. Satterthwaite (1958: 73) points out, however, that this is not always the case; Tikal Stela 25 seems not to have been associated with a structure, and Caracol Stela 3 as well as others at the site were situated well away from structures. According to Satterthwaite (1958) there are
a number of reasons why stelae may be ‘unusually’ placed. Generally, the reasons fall into three categories: First, stelae may be relocated for a new or modified ceremonial purpose (Satterthwaite, 1958: 58). This includes the simple re-erection of a stela in the ‘normal’ manner at a new location, as in the case of Uaxactun Stelae 18 and 19, a practice that characterised almost all of the stelae at Lamanai (Pendergast, 1981), or the ‘caching’ of a monument within a structure as occurred with Naachtun Stela 26 (Morton, 2007: 62). Second, relocation may also have been for some practical purpose (Satterthwaite, 1958: 58) such as re-use as building material, exemplified by Naachtun Stela 27, which was used as a step in Structure XI (Arredondo, 2010), and Piedras Negras ‘Lintel’ 12, re-used in a Late Classic temple wall (Satterthwaite, 1958: 58 n. h). Third, monuments may also have been discarded, and may be found on a midden, broken and scattered on an ancient surface, or as a complete object or large fragment abandoned after partial movement toward an intended new location, a situation that potentially serves as an explanation for the locations of Tikal Stela 25 and Caracol Stela 3 (Satterthwaite, 1958: 58). Often when we find broken monuments, we interpret them as evidence of acts of desecration, possibly as a result of warfare. The interpretation may be correct, but as Croxford (2018) notes in referring to the patterned breakage of cult statues in Roman Britain, although fragmentation may well end an old purpose, it similarly has the power to serve new ones. Adding to Satterthwaite’s list, we may also consider the possibility that monuments were occasionally broken, and the resulting fragments distributed as a symbol of connection between the pieces and the people responsible for (or driving) the activity. A cursory review of the archaeological record in Belize yields several examples that support the suggestion. Admittedly, not all examples involve the movement of monument fragments over long distances, but the separation of articulating fragments by even a few dozen meters of flat ground would surely have necessitated intentional effort by human agents. A particularly striking example of fragmentation and long-distance distribution has recently come to light in Belize and the eastern Petén region of the Maya lowlands. In 1905 Maler (1908) first documented a hieroglyphic stair at the site of Naranjo. The monument, which was dedicated in 642 CE (Morley, 1909: 550-554), during the reign of K’an II, King of Caracol, refers to Naranjo’s defeat at the hands of Caracol, in 626 and 631 CE (Helmke and Awe, 2016a: 1). Because it seemed unusual that the people of Naranjo would have memorialised the event in their city centre, the emplacement of the stair was initially interpreted as a brazen and humiliating act by victorious Caracol at its nowpowerless vassal state (Schele and Freidel, 1990). Noting that two fragments of the stair were recovered at Ucanal (Graham, 1980: 152, 154) and at Caracol (Grube, 1994: 113), and two additional fragments had recently been discovered at Xunantunich, 50 km north of Caracol, Martin (2017; see also Martin and Grube, 2008) and Helmke and Awe (2016a, 2016b) have offered a different interpretation that appears to follow the pattern under discussion. They suggest that the monument was originally raised at Caracol in 642 CE, and then, following the defeat of Caracol at the hands of a vengeful Naranjo in 680 CE, the stair was dismantled and removed from the site. Most of the inscribed sections were relocated to Naranjo and reassembled out of order; others were distributed to the presumably allied communities of Ucanal and Xunantunich, where they were prominently displayed, perhaps as tokens of war and testaments to affiliation. Panels 1 and 2 and Burial A4-2 at Xunantunich provide additional examples of monument and other artefact fragmentation and distribution. In the case of Panel 1, three carved fragments totalling about six percent of the monument were discovered on the front terrace of Str. A11 (Helmke et al., 2010: 99). Rounded edges of the fragments suggest that they were originally part of a large altar, but no other pieces of the monument have been discovered around Str. A11, despite complete horizontal exposure and conservation of the building by Awe, Yaeger, and colleagues. Xunantunich Panel 2 consists of approximately 50 percent of a rectangular monument that bears the best-preserved 6
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Fig. 6. Cahal Pech Burial B4-3, with fragmented objects symbolically arranged. Complements: J. Awe.
hieroglyphic inscription discovered thus far at the site (Helmke et al., 2010: 103). The fragment was recovered from a narrow alleyway between Str. A32 and Str. A6 (the Castillo), in a peri-abandonment deposit that contained a large quantity of smashed ceramic and non-ceramic artefacts (Awe, 2005). Unlike Panels 1 and 2, which were discovered atop terminal-phase architecture, Burial A4-2 lay deep within Str. A4/2nd (Awe, 2005). The grave, which consisted of a shallow crypt sealed by several large capstones and the plastered floor of A4/2nd, contained the skeleton of an adult male adorned with a few items of jade jewellery, several chert and obsidian eccentrics, and portions of two Late Classic polychrome dishes. The presence of the incomplete vessels is clearly a demonstration of purposeful deposition in a ritual context. We believe that the practice reflects a tradition that originated in the earliest Maya settlements in the Belize Valley (see Cahal Pech example below) and continued into the Terminal Classic cave contexts. The two-millennia-long sequence of occupation at the site of Cahal Pech, located approximately 10 km to the north-east of Xunantunich, provides an unusual opportunity to examine the practice of fragmentation and distribution over an extended period (Awe, 1992; Ebert, 2017). Research at Cahal Pech has produced diverse examples of the tradition. For example, the earliest Cunil phase (1200 – 900 BCE) cache (Cache B4/1) at the site contained two incomplete ceramic vessels, several chert and obsidian flakes, a jade fang and jade flaming eyebrow that were originally part of a mask, plus the ‘decapitated’ head of a ceramic figurine. Caching of figurine fragments, particularly the heads, continued at the site during the early and late facets of the Middle Formative (900–300 BCE) Kanluk phase (DeLance, 2016; Peniche-May et al., 2018). The great majority of the effigies were cached within Str.
B4, a small temple that represents one of the earliest ancestor shrines in the Cahal Pech site core (Awe, 1992: Table 4). For the Late Formative period (300 BCE – 200 CE), Burial B4-3 represents an even more exceptional example of material fragmentation and deposition within Str. B4. Burial B4-3, which lay about a meter below the plastered surface of Str. B4/3rd (Awe, n.d.), contained an incomplete skeleton accompanied by several long bones of an adult male arranged in a quadrangular pattern (Fig. 6). Each cardinal direction of the quadrangle was marked by the head of a Middle Formative ceramic figurine and the spout of a ceramic chocolate pot. At the centre of the quadrangle were two large ceramic vessels placed in a lip to lip arrangement, which contained a large fragment of a human skull and two jade beads. Beneath the bottom vessel was a carved conch-shell zoomorphic figure in the form of a crocodile. In the entire burial assemblage, the only complete objects were the two ceramic vessels, the crocodilian effigy, and the two jade beads. The chocolate pot spouts and figurine heads had clearly been snapped off in another location prior to their deposition in the burial. Equally interesting is the incomplete condition of the skeleton of the grave’s occupant, which was missing most of the smaller bony elements. Again, it is not necessary to find the missing pieces to establish the pattern in question; their absence in a closed context is sufficient. In this case, the condition showed that the remains had either been exhumed from their original location or had been rather carelessly prepared for secondary interment, an unusual but not unknown approach for a grave’s sole occupant. From the Early and Late Classic periods (300 – 800 CE), two caches and a burial stand out as important examples of the fragmentation and subsequent distribution across multiple locales of cultural remains at Cahal Pech. The Early Classic example includes a centre line cache in 7
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Str. H1 that contained one-third of a polychrome basal flanged dish decorated with the image of an elite male individual, a single jade bead, and two obsidian blades. The Late Classic examples include the caching of a headless figurine at the base of a plain stela at the Tzinic Group (Awe, 1992: Fig. 77c), and Burial 2 of the Zopilote Group (Awe, 2013: 37-38). The burial was housed in a large vaulted tomb located beneath the central stair of Zopilote Str. 1. The tomb contained two large fragments of Stela 9, encircled by approximately 200 “finger bowls”, each containing adult human phalanges. During the Terminal Classic period (800–1000 CE), at the time of the site’s gradual abandonment, the tradition of fragmentation and distribution continued unabated. Particularly good examples of the practice can be seen in the removal and displacement of several large monuments in the site core. Fragments of two stelae and one altar were removed from their original location in Plaza B, and the stela fragments were relocated to the summit of Str. C6 and to the southeast corner of Ballcourt A. The altar was moved to a stair that leads from the southwestern corner of Plaza C to Plaza B. Other examples of Terminal Classic fragmentation at Cahal Pech include several peri-abandonment deposits that were uncovered in three of the epicentral courtyards at the site. The Plaza A deposits were concentrated on the flanks of the central stairway of Structure A3, and in narrow passageways that provided access into the courtyard. Directly analogous to those identified by Tsukamoto (2017) at El Palmar, Campeche, Mexico, the deposits contained the fragmented and incomplete remains of manos and metates, obsidian blades, figurines, ocarinas, and numerous ceramic vessels (Aimers and Awe, n.d.; Awe et al., n.d.). The ceramic remains included almost 12,000 pot sherds, most of them consisting of large vessel fragments whose excellent condition and absence of wear on the edges suggested that they were in their primary context of deposition (unlike middens). During their analysis of the ceramic assemblage, the researchers expended
considerable effort to identify individual vessel fragments but were unable to refit a single complete vessel in the collection. Investigations by Awe and colleagues at Caracol and Pacbitun, south and southeast of Cahal Pech respectively, revealed a similar pattern of monument fragmentation as that noted above. As at Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, sections of monuments at Caracol and Pacbitun were removed from their original locations and deposited in or on monumental architecture in the site cores. In the case of Caracol, the upper section of Early Classic Stela 20 (Fig. 7) was broken off and cached beneath the southern stair that leads to Str. A6, the site’s large E-Group. The lower section of the monument was left in its original location near the central stair of A6. At Pacbitun, a fragment of Altar 3, about onequarter of the monument, was deposited in an axial cache beneath Str. 1, the largest temple in the site core (Helmke and Awe, 2012: 68). A smaller fragment, measuring 12.6 cm X 17.2 cm X 0.20 cm, was recovered at the base of the spine wall of Structure 25 where it had been recycled for use as part of the wall (Skaggs et al., 2017). The remaining fragments of the monument have never been found. Additional perspective on this depositional pattern is offered by both Altun Ha, where emplacement of multiple burials in residential, ceremonial, and administrative structures was an established practise by Middle to Late Formative times (Pendergast, 1982a: 170-203), and at Lamanai, where it had a time depth at least as long (Pendergast, 1980: 2-3). At both centres, interment forms, and presumably the ritual acts that accompanied them, continued to the last gasps of the Classic period. Importantly, they provide an interesting contrast to the pattern noted in the Belize River Valley. Generally speaking, over that long span individuals were interred in comparatively simple graves, often no more than an unlined pit in building core, but burial accompaniments were nevertheless frequently numerous, and were rich in more cases than not. The single possible example of the type of fragmentation
Fig. 7. Drawing of Stela 20, Caracol. Drawing by Christophe Helmke. Complements: J. Awe. 8
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under discussion, identifiable among the 386 burials, 14 tombs, and 73 caches recovered from Formative and Classic contexts at Altun Ha—and hence conspicuous for its presence—consists of two animal-figurine heads, detached from the bodies and interred with a subadult in major Central Precinct Structure A-1 (Pendergast, 1979: 50, Fig. 13b, c). Fragmentary artefacts were, expectably, encountered in other interments at Altun Ha and in offerings as well, but in no case can they be demonstrated to be products of intentional action at the time of interment. The same is true of Lamanai's Formative and Classic burial assemblage, and at both sites, perturbation of some burials through root action as well as heavy rainfall has been a complicating factor in assessing the significance of breakage. The basics of interment of the dead extended into the Postclassic at Lamanai, but the early part of that period saw a significant shift in attendant rites in a small number of cases. Whereas in virtually all circumstances in previous centuries burial accompaniments were laid out intact around and atop a corpse, a portion of the burials in Early and Middle Postclassic times were marked by smashing of vessels, and very rarely of other objects as well. Inclusion of pottery vessels as grave furniture was nearly universal in the Early Postclassic, as the 50 interments (total 54 individuals) in Structure N10-2 demonstrate very effectively (Pendergast, 1982b: 24-27). Among the 50 were 11 (slightly more than 10%), representing 14 individuals, that contained smashed vessels, with pieces of the pots mingled and often strewn widely over and around the graves' occupants (Fig. 8). It is obvious that the breakage and wide distribution of ceramic fragments cannot be construed as evidence in itself of anything more than intentional breakage, but a very clear picture that extends beyond simple destruction emerged as broken vessels were reconstructed. In all cases, at least one significant piece of each broken vessel was found to be missing, and in view of the thorough excavation of each of the burials involved, the conclusion must be that those who laid out the body and smashed the pots that were to accompany it retained a small part of each vessel. Whether the pieces were kept as mementoes of the deceased, as mementoes of the symbolic significance of the interment event, or as objects with some form of definable power, there can be little question that the pieces served in a sense as the whole vessels had done during the life of the deceased, and therefore created some form of social linkage. In other words, here, we suggest, can be seen the clear
signature of both fragmentation and enchainment. Apart from the breakage itself, no patterning is discernible among the 11 interments. Eight held single individuals, adult male, adult female, adolescent, child, and infant; the remaining three held an adult male and female pair, two infants, and an adult accompanied by an infant. The age range in each category, but particularly in the case of children, appears substantial. No features suggest relationship among the 14 individuals except for the treatment of vessels, and whether this reflects kinship, status, some other social factor, or simply a choice made by those who prepared the interments is impossible to determine. One of the 11 caches recovered from Structure N10-2 also yielded evidence of intentional fragmentation; the initial item in the emplacement of objects in Cache N10-2/1 was a group of chert blades, three complete and four incomplete examples, which had been broken to produce 13 pieces, a symbolically significant total. Although all sections of the three complete blades were present, the absence of portions of the remaining four examples suggests the possibility that the pieces were retained, presumably in the same frame of logic that the missing vessel fragments represent. With so small a number of interments as a representation of the phenomena of fragmentation and enchainment it would obviously be incorrect to judge the processes as major characteristics of Lamanai's Early Postclassic. The small peak in the beginning years does, however, stand out against the time that followed, which at Lamanai is most fully identifiable in Structure N10-4, a near-neighbour of N10-2 (Pendergast, 1981: 33, Fig. 3) in what appears to have become the principal, if not the only, administrative centre of the Postclassic community. A structure that may never have been more than a platform that supported a perishable building, N10-4 saw extensive use as a burying-ground at a time later than the major part of N10-2’s history. The 46 interments, representing 50 individuals, that were encountered in excavation demonstrate very clearly a shift away from the vessel-smashing tradition, for only three burials were accompanied by such material. Two of the three N10-4 burials resemble in general those in N10-2; one grave contained a male and a female adult, with all of the ceramics associated with the female, and the second held the remains of an adult, heavily disturbed by later interments. The third burial falls outside the range in both N10-2 and N10-4; it comprised a primary extended burial of an adolescent, the initial step in the interment process; an assemblage of secondary skeletal material representing several adults; and a primary seated burial of an adult male. Most of the vessels associated with the seated male and the secondary assemblage were left intact, but a large cylindrical censer was broken in two, with the two pieces set at separate corners of the grave (Fig. 9). Reassembly of the cylinder revealed that several small but significant pieces were missing, and it appears safe to assume that they were intentionally removed (or that the large vessel fragments were otherwise interred in the first place as fragments following their breakage elsewhere). The ceramic evidence links the burial with Tulum, and hence can probably be read as a late statement of a belief that stretched back over three centuries or more. The N10-4 burials may not, however, have been quite the last incident of fragmentation and enchainment at the site. The core of a very small platform, Structure N9-59, erected near the front of Structure N956 at a time when the large building was largely or wholly abandoned and in an advanced state of decay, proved to contain a mass of ceramics with features not encountered elsewhere at Lamanai. All of the slipped vessels are marked by slip characteristics that suggest a late date, as do characteristics of vessel feet. More than 20 vessels, including partially reconstructable examples and a large quantity of fragments identifiable as coming from others, lay within the very small volume of the platform's core. Apart from five unslipped specimens and a red-slipped miniature effigy of an ear of corn, the sample consisted almost entirely of tripod dishes, all of which were missing portions that ranged from body sections to one or more feet. The fragments that identify some of the dishes are limited to unusual single feet that do not fit attachments on any of the vessel bodies (Fig. 10). Fragmentation and the deposition
Fig. 8. Lamanai Burial N10-2/35, with typical vessel fragmentation. Complements: D. Pendergast. 9
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European context, studies of the phenomena are by no means immune from critique. One of the more direct voices of criticism is that of Douglas Bailey; in a short 2001 review of John Chapman’s “Fragmentation in Archaeology: People, Places and Broken Objects in the Prehistory of South-Eastern Europe” for American Anthropologist, Bailey outlines a series of weaknesses in the dataset used to identify the pattern in the material record of southeastern Europe as well as a number of problematic assumptions tying this pattern to social interpretation. We believe that our dataset speaks well to critiques of this sort. First, Bailey (2001: 1182) notes that ‘Chapman makes unwarranted (and uninvestigated) assumptions about taphonomy and post depositional processes.’ Particularly notable are specific methodological failings in the older archaeological research of the region, including a lack of recorded excavation context, failure to use stratigraphic matrices, and absence of dry sieving. The lack of adequate recording should have the effect of lowering rates of material recovery in general, and biasing recovery toward larger or otherwise more visible objects in particular. In other words, it would inhibit the ability to identify the process of fragmentation with any degree of clarity. It would also inhibit the ability to illuminate a clear sequence of depositional events at the sites in question. In those examples where different fragments of the same object were recovered from significantly different contexts, however, the criticism becomes irrelevant because such widely distributed material is in itself evidence of the pattern. Although, like Chapman, we reach back to older publications, we mitigate the potential pitfalls noted by Bailey by reference to more recent excavations to provide concrete examples of the use of rigorous recording and extensive, horizontal, or complete, excavation (such as at TCU s.08, Cuychen, Overlook Rockshelter, or any number of closed-context tombs or caches) of surface and subsurface contexts. Bailey (2001: 1182) also voices concern with Chapman’s preoccupation with exotics, figurines, prestige goods, and special raw materials, questioning “How are we to tie such special goods into the practicalities of daily prehistoric life?” We believe that Chapman can be excused this bias, as his principal goal was to establish the existence of the pattern, and such exceptional objects stand out against the background of archaeological findings. One may also expect that, even in the context of ‘daily prehistoric life,’ at least that part of it concerned with ritual, precisely such objects as these would be the ones preferentially selected for use. We are nevertheless able to address this particular criticism by observing the pattern in the fragmentation and distribution of decidedly mundane artefacts, including undecorated vessels and other comparatively plain objects. Bailey (2001: 1182) experiences similar anxiety over the choices of sites, such as the Danube Gorges and the Vinča Tell, emphasising that they are exceptional in their nature, or otherwise ‘not normal.’ In contrast, in the Maya area there is less expectation that the ‘normal’ will exclude the
Fig. 9. Lamanai Burial N10-4/46; note the two cylindrical censer sections at the grave left side. Complements: D. Pendergast.
of only select portions of vessels were clearly very much in operation as the platform was being created, and it is very likely that the material removed was intended for retention, as in earlier times. The actions surely served to bond the present with the past, but if there was additional significance bound up in the event it remains beyond our grasp. The data from Altun Ha and Lamanai, like those in western Belize, demonstrate the existence of opportunities in surface sites for identification of intentional fragmentation and retention of fragments despite the lack of the sorts of protection for such information offered by the cave context. Opportunities of sorts similar to those encountered at these sites may occasionally be few and far between, especially if Postclassic occupation is not in evidence, but the picture drawn by the material reported here is sufficiently intriguing to argue for careful consideration of interments and caches from all points in a site's occupation span. 4. The critique: Lessons learned from European archaeology Although the practice of object fragmentation, the distribution of fragments across multiple discrete locales, and/or the retention of some fragments by individuals or groups, have long been recognised in the
Fig. 10. Vessel feet from Lamanai Structure N9-59. Drawings by Louise Belanger. Complements: D. Pendergast. 10
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extraordinary, for ritual and daily experience are very extensively entwined. Other concerns, such as a lack of attention to differentiating deliberately shattered from accidentally broken objects, are less of a detriment to Chapman’s argument. We have nevertheless gone to some effort to demonstrate intentionality in the referenced record from sites in the Belize sub-region of the Maya area. Perhaps more significant to Bailey’s (2001: 1182) critique is his question, ‘What is the thread that runs through the theory, the examples, and the case studies and that ties the argument together and convinces the reader that broken objects are the keys to unlocking people and their places in southeastern Europe prehistory?’ We endeavour to end our discussion by providing an answer to precisely that question.
within caves, temples, or other restricted spaces. From this perspective, rather than seeing individuals ensnared in a web of binding social and economic relationships (à la Chapman), we offer the view that within the particular socio-political and economic framework proposed for the ancient Maya (blurring the line between chiefdoms and states), the integrative power of such ritualised patterns of distribution should not be underestimated. Such patterns were not about binding or limiting development/change in the sense warned about by Bogucki (2002: 584), but, particularly when enacted as part of a formal ritual, they can be simultaneously both individualising and collectivising, through the process of memory creation. The behaviour can therefore be seen as one of many complementary (and sometimes competing?) processes that may be used by social or political groups at various levels, to support their integrative needs. While specific contexts and time periods vary, it is important that wherever the pattern has been the explicit focus of a search (in caves and surface sites), it appears ubiquitous—at least, in those regions discussed in this text. In fact, the pattern appears relatively common across the Maya area, though its full extent is difficult to gauge from the published literature because it is rarely the subject of specific discussion—Tsukamoto’s recent (2017) study provides a welcome and robust methodology for surface sites. The most important implication of this may be that we have been remiss in treating caves, tombs, caches, and other ritual contexts in isolation. From this perspective, whether we are considering monumental architecture, large elaborate and heavily utilised caves, or more modest contexts, it seems that each could have occasionally served as simple nodes within broad ritual landscapes and should perhaps be treated as such. The scale of ritual studies within the Maya area needs to be expanded from those focused on individual deposits to broad analyses on the landscape or regional scale (as in settlement studies). Moreover, such studies must explicitly seek out variability within this corpus as it is clear that even small sites may have served as important nodes within larger networks.
5. The effect: Scales of social network Chapman sees enchainment as an embodiment of the fractal qualities of a broken object in the people who distribute, or interact with, its fragments. As noted by Bogucki (2002), Chapman explicitly ties the concept of enchainment to that of “inalienable goods”—that a permanent link exists between the users or owners of an object and the artefact itself as it accumulates a distinctive biography (Malinowski, 1920; Mauss, 2002 ; Weiner, 1992). In contrast with the approach adopted in the ethnographic literature, however, in which the exchange of whole objects is expected, in Chapman’s view it is the fragmentation and exchange of an object that is important. Chapman makes the argument that each part of a fragmented object “stands not only for the rest of the artefact but both persons concerned with the exchange” (Chapman, 2000: 37; see also Awe, n.d.). Such a concept seems to sit particularly well with examples such as the dismantled hieroglyphic stair found at Naranjo, Ucanal, and Xunantunich, where the fragments are given prominence of place within the monumental cores of the centres, and where the fragments of text would encourage persistence of memory. The same may well have been true of the cached and buried fragments of monuments at Cahal Pech, Caracol, and Pacbitun. So, too, are situations described by Driessen (2010) on Crete, Hull and colleagues (2013) in California, and Kankpeyeng and colleagues (2013) in northern Ghana, where fragmented human remains such as those found at Overlook Rockshelter retain specific meaning. We find it more difficult to attribute perpetual significance to the inalienable quality of an object and those who exchange/distribute it where that object is not openly curated or of remarkable character. When considering the innumerable ceramic sherds that appear to have been distributed within cave contexts, or between caves and other sites, it is difficult to imagine that they would have borne the burden of any lasting memory of a specific event, person, or people. It would seem impossible that we could demonstrate accumulation of biographies over time (note that Bogucki [2002: 584] voices similar reservations), though it must be considered that associations with particular supernatural entities, tied to particular points of deposition, may have been recognized and valued long after the original human actors had departed. In addition, in such contexts we suggest that other social processes are likely to have been at work. In particular, following Birch and Hart (2018), we consider the notion of social capital—‘A functional property of the structure of relations between actors, relations that confer social and economic benefits on network members owing to their shared social ties (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988)’ (Birch and Hart, 2018: 15)—and propose that an important part of the distribution of materials was to build feelings of goodwill, camaraderie, and fellowship between individuals taking part in the activity. Regardless of the specific motivation behind the rites in question, connecting multiple locales within the complex cosmologically charged spaces of a cave or civic-ceremonial core, or indeed across a landscape, would have afforded an opportunity for ritualists to partake in more or less formal and inherently observable/ public ritual processions in combination with secluded/private acts
Declaration of Competing Interest The authors confirm that there are no competing interests with respect to this manuscript. Acknowledgments We would like to thank our colleagues, collaborators, and friends in Belize. In particular, we would like to express our gratitude to those at the Institute of Archaeology (formerly Department of Archaeology) who have encouraged and facilitated archaeological research for the better part of a century and continue to drive ground-breaking research in Maya studies today. It is through their tireless efforts that synthetic works such as this are made possible. While this research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors, gratitude is also extended to Doug Tilden, the Tilden Family Foundation, and other private donors for their general support of our investigations, to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum, and to all the staff and crew of the BVAR, WBRCP, CBAS, and Lamanai projects. We would, finally, like to thank our reviewers for their thoughtful and thorough comments. All errors are our own. References Aimers, James J., 2007. What Maya collapse? Terminal classic variation in the Maya Lowlands. J. Archaeol. Res. 15, 329–377. Aimers, James J., Awe, Jaime J., n.d. The Long Goodbye: Problematic Pottery and Pilgrimage at Cahal Pech, Belize. Paper Submitted to journal Ancient Mesoamerica for Special Section on Problematic Deposits. Andrews, E. Wyllys IV., 1965. Explorations in the Gruta de Chac. Middle American Research Institute Publication 31: 1-21. New Orleans. Andrews, E. Wyllys IV., 1970. Balankanche, Throne of the Tiger Priest. Middle American
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