Wednesday, October 5, 2016

NKU Archaeologist and Students Study the Largest Obsidian Macroblades in the Maya World

Courtney and Lindsay Powell Analyzing the Stromsvik Macroblade Cache.
Over the summer of 2016, Anthropology students Courtney and Lindsay Powell assisted Dr. Zachary Hruby for five weeks in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. They analyzed Maya obsidian artifacts from subsidiary sites surrounding Copan as well as one of the largest obsidian macroblade caches in the Maya world. The macroblade cache was excavated in the Great Plaza of Copan in the early 1940’s by Norwegian Archaeologist Gustav Stromsvik and has not been analyzed until now. The students learned the process of analyzing lithic technology by sorting through excavated pieces, taking metric data, and observing and recording data while Dr. Hruby determined which obsidian sources the artifacts were from and what they were used for. Along with their lithic analysis, the Powell sisters were also introduced to some of the finest examples of Maya three-dimensional sculpture that display iconographic symbols of kings and deities. The most predominant images throughout the site are of the first ruler of Copan, K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, and the thirteenth ruler, Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil.
Team Obsidian: Lindsay (left), Courtney (center), and Dr. Hruby (right).
After five weeks of analysis in the lab, they left Copan and traveled to Guatemala City to attend the National Symposium held at the Museum of Archaeology. Maya archaeologists from all over the world presented their research during this event. Dr. Hruby gave a presentation on the Stromsvik macroblade cache and the students had the opportunity to meet many professionals in the field and hear about their research. 
Courtney exploring house mounds at Copan.

Overall, the trip was a wonderful learning experience that prepared the students for future careers in archaeology.
Stelae at Copan with Macaw.

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