Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Recent studies of past Maya economies illustrated that they were complex systems where individuals of varying socio-economic status negotiated wealth and power. Variability within past economic systems provides us with a window into the relationships between actors of different socio-political status and how economies served as mechanisms for their interactions. This paper examines the role of different types of lithic producers in past economic activities to illuminate the circulation of goods and involvement of different actors in this activity. Specifically, this paper will use data from the upper Belize River valley of western Belize to examine formal and informal lithic production. Data indicate that formal tools were produced by specialists while informal tools were produced by both specialists and non-specialists. These patterns illustrate that exchange mechanisms were vital for formal tool distribution and that lithic materials were exchanged through multiple exchange mechanisms, pointing to the diversity of economic activities in which peoples participated. More broadly, the presence of differential production activities for formal and informal tools indicates that lithic production was organized in a complex manner that had impacts for the economic activities that people undertook for their subsistence activities.