Graduate Student Council Research Grants


Bone Tool Production at the Terminal Classic Maya Site of Ucanal, Guatemala

Document Type



M.A. in Anthropology

Publication Date



My thesis research will concentrate on bone tool use and production at the site of Ucanal, Guatemala, a Maya site that was occupied during the Terminal Classic period (AD 800-925). We have limited information on aspects of the Maya economy, especially in the production and exchange of perishable materials like bone tools. Animal bones are rare, and even rarer are osseus materials worked into tools and ornaments, limiting our knowledge about how the Maya used regional ecosystems in a culture that relied on wild game rather than domestic animal species. I will analyze a worked bone deposit at Ucanal to understand which species were used for particular tool and ornament types and how that relates to other bone deposits at the site. This deposit is also unusual for the quantity of worked human bone, which may have symbolic as well as economic explanations.The analysis will provide insight into the decline and collapse of the Maya civilization because Ucanal was occupied during a time of sociopolitical collapse that may relate to changes in the environment/climate such as drought, lack of resources such as wild game for food, tool,and clothing production, and warfare.

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