Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2007:
Christina T. Halperin

Investigating Classic Maya Ritual Economies: Figurines from Motul de San José, Guatemala
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Figure 7b. Effigy flute (TRI13E-5-3-1b): plan photo by author.  Figure 7c. Effigy flute (TRI13E-5-3-1b): profile photo by author.  Figure 7d. Effigy flute (TRI13E-5-3-1b): back photo by author.

Research Year:  2005
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Classic
Location:  Petén, Guatemala
Site:  Motul de San José

Table of Contents

Magnetometer Survey and Methods
Magnetometer and Excavation Results
Laboratory Work
Duplicate Figurines
Figurine Pastes
Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA)
Iconographic and Stylistic Themes
List of Figures
Sources Cited


This project investigates the political economy of clay figurines at the Classic Maya site of Motul de San José, Petén, Guatemala. Excavations and laboratory research during the 2005-06 field season was conducted in order to recover direct and indirect evidence of figurine production and distribution as well as fully document the figurines excavated from Motul de San José and its neighboring centers. Field research focused on 1) locating figurine production (e.g. kilns or firing areas, figurine molds, wasters) through a magnetometer survey and subsequent excavations and 2) recovering figurines from commoner residences to broaden the scope of the figurine database. Laboratory research included iconographic and technical analyses, such as visual paste identifications, production technique assessments, and Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) sampling. FAMSI funds were used for laboratory research involved with the photographic documentation and scientific illustration of the figurines.

Motul de San José is the capital of a Late Classic polity located on the northwestern shore of Lake Petén Itzá (Figure 1). It is often referred to as the Ik' site identified by the Ik' emblem glyph (Foias 2000, 2003; Marcus 1976; Reents-Budet, et al. 1994:172-179; Rice 2004:144-145; Schele and Mathews 1998:185-187). The Proyecto Arqueológico Motul de San José directed by Dr. Antonia Foias of Williams College has conducted investigations at Motul de San José and its satellite sites since 1998 (Emery 2003; Foias 2003; Moriarty 2003). These satellite sites include the settlements of Akte, Buenavista, Chäkokot, Chachaklum, and Trinidad de Nosotros, which are all located within an 8 km radius of Motul de San José.

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Submitted 10/31/2006 by:
Christina T. Halperin

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