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Precolombian Craft Production at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala Project

A reconstruction of obsidian blade productionSeveral projects in this laboratory have examined the structure of Mesoamerican craft production involving the manufacture of obsidian pressure blades, obsidian percussion tools, jade and obsidian lapidary production, and copper metallurgy.  These studies have been carried out in the Central Mexican highlands , the Olmec Gulf Coast, the Guatemala highlands and lowlands, and the Tarascan region of Michoacan.  Research in this laboratory approaches craft production from a strong technological perspective that employs both experimental approach and replication studies in the reconstruction of ancient manufacturing processes.

The site of Kaminaljuyu was the major center of cultural development in the highlands of Guatemala.  The Kaminaljuyu Lithics Project is examining whether the site controlled the El Chayal obsidian source and served as the major regional production and distribution center for the obsidian prismatic blades in the Valley of Guatemala between 1000 BC-AD 900.  During the 2010-2011 academic year students will be examining the development of prismatic blade production at the site using collections stored at Penn State University.