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SaltWhite Gold of the Ancient Maya$
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Heather McKillop

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780813025117

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813025117.001.0001

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The Organization of Salt Production

The Organization of Salt Production

Occupational Specialization among the Late Classic Maya

(p.115) 4 The Organization of Salt Production

Heather Mckillop

University Press of Florida

This chapter discusses craft production in the Classic Mayan civilization. Focus is centered on the organization of salt production which gives a glimpse on the organization of labor, occupational specialization and the level of economic specialization in the Classic Maya. In this chapter it is found out that standardization was prevalent in the salt production in Punta Ycacos sites. These were observed in the vessels, jars, and vessel supports used in salt works and production. Evidence suggests that salt production carried out in Punta Ycacos was carried out by independent specialists and that salt production during the Late Classic Maya was specialized as indicated by the standardization of salt-making equipment and vessels. The existence of specialized salt production in the Mayan culture was implied by the absence of the remnants of animals and plant food suggesting salt production in the Late Classic Maya at the Punta Ycacos was not carried out in household production sites but rather in specialized salt production sites. Salt production in Punta Ycacos Lagoon along the Belizean coast suggest of an independent production of utilitarian goods and it also indicates their short-distance within the Maya lowlands. Interestingly, this coastal-inland trade also suggests a strong link to the long-distance trade of exotics and highly crafted goods for the inland elite as suggested by the existence of royal goods and pottery implying that the elite inland assured their supply of salt by creating vertical alliances with the coastal elite and by tying them into their rituals, ceremonies, and marriages.

Keywords:   craft production, Classic Mayan civilization, salt production, organization of labor, occupational specialization, economic specialization, Punta Ycacos sites, independent specialists, standardization, specialized salt production

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