The ancient Maya used different types of iron ores and iron sulfides to craft a variety of reflective artifacts. Besides the well-known “mirrors,” these minerals were also used in pectorals, necklaces, and dental inlays, among others. However, almost all of these artifacts have only been visually assessed, without using analytical techniques. Consequently, our understanding of the reflective raw materials and their distribution patterns in the Maya region has been largely limited. In this presentation, Barrientos Quezada discusses the problems derived from visual identification and how these can be improved by applied geochemical methods.
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Tomás Barrientos Quezada (Ph.D. Vanderbilt University, 2014) has conducted archaeological research throughout Guatemala for the last 25 years. He is currently Chair of the Archaeology Department and Director of the Center for Archaeological and Anthropological Research at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. For 13 years, Barrientos Quezada has been the co-director of La Corona Regional Archaeological Project (PRALC), conducting investigations in Northwestern Petén, Guatemala. He also worked at the site of Cancuen, a pioneer project integrating local development of indigenous communities as an integral part of archaeological investigations. His specialties include spatial analysis of architecture, ancient geopolitics, Highland Maya and Pacific Coast archaeology, and cultural heritage management.