Material and meaning: a contextual examination of select portable material culture from Colha, Belize

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Buttles, Palma Jeanne

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This dissertation presents the results of a contextual analysis of select portable material culture from the Maya archaeological site of Colha. The assemblage is comprised of 2,264 artifacts of varying material and form that are commonly referred to as miscellaneous artifacts or small finds. In the Colha collection a variety of raw materials are represented including antler, bone, clay, coral, metal, shell, specular hematite, speleothem, and stone. Several technological systems of production are found and reported Contexts represented in the assemblage include middens, construction fill, burials, and cache offerings. The majority of the assemblage was derived from the depositional behaviors of burial, caching, and discard. While a traditional metric and attribute analysis is incorporated, a primary goal of this study is placing and analyzing each artifact in its archaeological context. The contextual component allows for the revelation of inherent contextual patterning. The resulting patterns enable suppositions regarding the behaviors responsible for the deposition of the select portable material culture of Colha. Inter-site comparisons are used to establish regional depositional patterns or trends. The research presented in this dissertation has illustrated that the cultural and social significance of the select portable material of Colha may be best described through contextual analysis and patterning.