To the Maya, plant-based foods were not just important for sustenance but also had ritual meaning that was especially emphasized when placed in graves and caches. Food offered during ritual performances created a reciprocal relationship between living individuals, their ancestors, and the gods. The following thesis examines seven ceramic sherds associated with burial and cache offerings of individuals from the lowland Maya site of Holtun, Guatemala, that were found to have contained food offerings. Starch analysis, a method used to determine plant taxa on a microscopic level was performed on the ceramic vessels along with various experimental molecular spectroscopic procedures. The results gathered from the starch analysis and chemical analysis tested our ability to recover plant remains from archaeological evidence at Holtun and illuminated a possible pattern of grave and offering types, social class, and variety in ritual diet. The identification of manioc, yam, and malanga suggests evidence to the complex ritual diet of the Maya at Holtun not often depicted in iconography from the Middle Preclassic period (800 – 300 B.C.) through the Terminal Classic period (A.D. 550- 900).
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Batres, Kimberly, "Paleoethnobotanical Analysis of Maya Ceramic Residues from Holtun, Guatemala" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 830.