Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Fash, William Leonard

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Material culture--Honduras; Maya architecture--Honduras; Honduras--Antiquities; Copan Site (Honduras)


During the 1989 field season at the Classic Maya center of Copan, Honduras, a midden or refuse dump was discovered in the "West Court" area of the site. The West Court is located high upon the acropolis in the center of the site, an area that undoubtedly held an enormous amount of religious and ritual significance for the ancient Maya. Archaeological excavation has shown that this area of the site was under heavy construction at the time the midden was deposited. Early structures identified through tunneling also show this part of the city to be the center of religious activities for a period of at least 300 years. The working hypothesis was, does the spatial patterning of archaeological remains actually reflect the spatial patterning of past activities? Given the highly ritual area that the midden was located in, does this indicate that the midden was the remains of a ancient Maya ritual? Excavations revealed artifacts of ceramics, bone, shell, obsidian and chert that are indicative of ritual and workshop activity. Use-wear analysis, conducted on several hundred obsidian blades, identified many tasks that were performed by the ancient Maya. Architectural evidence revealed that the area surrounding the midden was purposely altered to define the boundaries of the midden. Evidence for ritual drinking and ritual ceremonial craft making was uncovered.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 118-124)


133 pages




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