Advances in Geochemical Sourcing of Granite Ground Stone Ancient Maya Artifacts from the Middle Belize Valley

Academic Article


  • AbstractOften understudied by archaeologists, ground stone tools (GST) were ubiquitous in the ancient Maya world. Their applications ranged from household tools to ceremonial equipment and beyond. Little attention has been focused on chemically sourcing the raw stone material used in GST production, largely because these tools were fashioned out of igneous or sedimentary rock, which can present characterization challenges. And, although portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) has been applied widely to source obsidian, the utility of pXRF for geochemically sourcing other kinds of stone remains underexplored. We present a small-scale application of pXRF for determining granite provenance within a section of the Middle Belize Valley in Belize, Central America. Belize is an ideal location to test chemical sourcing studies of granite because there are only three tightly restricted and chemically distinct sources of granite in the country, from which the overwhelming majority of granite for ancient tool production derived. The method described here demonstrates that successful and accurate geological characterizations can be made on granite GST. This cutting-edge sourcing technique has the potential to be more widely applied in other regions to reveal deeper connections between the sources of GST production and sites of consumption across space and through time.
  • Authors

  • Brouwer Burg, Marieka
  • Tibbits, Tawny LB
  • Harrison-Buck, Eleanor
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2021
  • Published In


  • Ancient Maya
  • Belize
  • geochemical sourcing
  • granite
  • ground stone tools
  • pXRF
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 338
  • End Page

  • 353
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 4