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Lithics Lab Department of Anthropology


Research Projects

Laboratory research focuses on understanding past economic organization through the lens of lithic technology. A variety of methods including sourcing analyses, experimental archaeology, and detailed analyses of lithic technologies inform the use of a technological organization approach to understanding past economies.

Understanding Preclassic and Classic period Maya economies in the Maya Lowlands 
This project takes a multi-sited perspective on Classic period Maya lithic economies, and their role in the creation of relationships (both positive and negative) among socio-political groups. This project draws on research from sites in the Mopan River Valley, Belize (including Arenal, Manzanero Lithic Workshop, and Callar Creek Quarry, among others) and in the Peten, Guatemala (El Per├║-Waka’ and La Corona).

Postclassic Obsidian Trade in the Maya Highlands
This project focuses on understanding obsidian economies in the K’iche’ Maya highlands through the analysis of a heritage collection of obsidian excavated in the 1970s. The project uses geochemical sourcing and detailed attribute analyses to investigate how economies are both sources of power for elite individuals and sources of independence and resistance for non-elite actors.

Image of a person standing on a chair taking a picture of some stone tools

Person surveying at an archaeological site

Analytical tools

The lithics lab has a variety of spaces in which research can be conducted including access to basic materials for lithic analysis (e.g., scales and calipers).

There is a large area for flintknapping, including replication and experimental projects.

Microscopes for use-wear are also available, for use both with experimental projects and archaeological collections.

A portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (pXRF) is available for sourcing projects, focused on obsidian sourcing, as well as determining the utility of pXRF technology for sourcing other common lithic materials used in the Maya region.


Image of a room with benches around the outside, with people working on the benches.