By Michael T. Searcy
even though many archaeologists have appeared those artifacts easily as universal daily instruments and accordingly unremarkable, Searcy’s technique unearths how, for the traditional Maya, the manufacture and use of grinding stones considerably impacted their actual and financial welfare. In tracing the lifestyles cycle of those instruments from creation to discard for the fashionable Maya, Searcy discovers wealthy customs and traditions that point out how metates and manos have persevered to maintain life—not simply actually, by way of meals, but additionally when it comes to tradition. His study is predicated on years of fieldwork between 3 Mayan teams, within which he documented behaviors linked to those instruments in the course of their procurement, creation, acquisition, use, discard, and re-use.
Searcy’s research records conventional practices which are swiftly being misplaced or dramatically converted. In few cases will it's attainable sooner or later to monitor metates and manos as critical parts in family provisioning or stick to their direction from hand-manufacture to industry distribution and to intergenerational transmission. during this cautious inquiry into the cultural value of an easy device, Searcy’s ethnographic observations are guided either by means of an curiosity in how grinding stone traditions have continued and the way they're altering at the present time, and via the aim of improving the archaeological interpretation of those stones, that have been so basic to pre-Hispanic agriculturalists with corn-based cuisines.
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Additional resources for The Life-Giving Stone: Ethnoarchaeology of Maya Metates
Dary and Esquivel (1991:8) reported that thatched roof or trees cover some work areas in Jilotepeque to protect metateros from sun and rain.
Typically, metateros at both quarries produce one roughly formed metate per day. Rafael described the reduction phases performed at the quarry and the sequence of the formation of metate parts: 1. Pelar la cara: This translates to “peel the face” or to “pick away at the face,” “face” referring to the grinding surface (also known in Poqomam as pan a wach). From what I observed, Rafael first roughly formed the grinding surface (dorsal side) by using a fierro grueso (or fierro grande) to create a concave curve.
Finishing the surface of the grinding stone involved working with a flat-ended pick to strike the stone in a swing perpendicular to the stone surface (fig. 7), crushing and flattening any elevated areas. This stage of reduction produced only small pieces of basalt (about 1 to 5 cm wide) and powdery debitage (fig. 8), probably not substantial enough to identify the area as a home workshop. Hector’s work typically leaves a very fine powder, and he informed me that the little debitage that did accumulate around his porch work area would be swept up and discarded somewhere around the home.