A prehispanic Maya pit oven? Microanalysis of fired clay balls from the Puuc region, Yucatan, Mexico

TitleA prehispanic Maya pit oven? Microanalysis of fired clay balls from the Puuc region, Yucatan, Mexico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSimms SR, Berna F, Bey III GJ
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume40
Issue2
Pagination1144–1157
Date Published02/2013
AbstractExcavations of a kitchen at Escalera al Cielo in the Puuc Maya region of Yucatán, Mexico uncovered a concentration of fired clay balls (ca. 3–5 cm in diameter), in addition to other de facto domestic refuse. The kitchen pertains to an intensively excavated elite residential group that was rapidly abandoned sometime near the end of the Terminal Classic period (A.D. 800–950), resulting in floor assemblages that provide an opportunity to explore the types and distribution of daily household activities. The results of experimental replications and a suite of analyses comprising modal analysis, ceramic petrography, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and microbotanical residue analysis reveal aspects of clay preparation, firing temperatures, repeated use of the balls, firing conditions, and specific plant food or fuel residues adhering to them. We show that the fired clay balls were manufactured with local, clay-rich soil and employed by the inhabitants of Escalera al Cielo as heating elements; relatively high concentrations of microbotanical residues from edible plants adhering to them support the hypothesis that they were involved in kitchen activities related to food processing.
URLhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440312004657