Figurine Economies at Motul de San José: Multiple and Shifting Modes of Valuation

Christina T. Halperin

in Motul de San José

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041902
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043425 | DOI:
Figurine Economies at Motul de San José: Multiple and Shifting Modes of Valuation

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Recent archaeological research on economic systems have moved from static models of goods manufacture and exchange to those that emphasize the social practices and symbolic meanings that shape (and are, in turn, shaped by) the value, production, and circulation of goods. This chapter by Christina T. Halperin examines 2,767 ceramic figurines from the Motul de San José region in relation to such shifting modes of valuation and meaning. It assesses figurine manufacturing techniques, the context of production, and figurine density distributions across the social landscape in relation to their imagery and performative use. The combination of these data indicate that while some figurines may have served as prestige goods or indicators of hierarchical social difference, most figurines were widely circulated and easily accessible to elite and common peoples. These groups, and especially women and children, incorporated them into their domestic and public performances, rituals, and entertainment. Furthermore, variability in their distribution between the Motul de San José region and other Maya sites reveal that the social meanings and roles of figurines were not uniform across the Maya area, and point to the value of examining artifacts from multiple scales and types of analyses.

Keywords: Classic Maya; archaeology; figurines; economic organization

Chapter.  8135 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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