Dr Lisa LeCount publishes “Geochemical Characterization of Inorganic Residues on Plaster Floors from a Maya Palace Complex at Actuncan, Belize”

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa LeCount on the first publication of the new year, along with her co-authors E. Christian Wells, Thomas R. Jamison, and David W. Mixter!

This report describes the results of a geochemical analysis using a mild acid extraction and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy of 198 samples from plaster surfaces at the palace complex at Actuncan, a prehispanic Maya city located in a karst landscape of western Belize. Archeologists working in the Maya region of Central America often refer to many different kinds of building complexes as “palaces” without a clear understanding of how they functioned. Often, the rooms inside these structures are devoid of features and artifacts, making it difficult to infer how they were used. Geochemical characterization of inorganic residues on plaster floors as a means of prospecting for activity areas is therefore critical for studying the function and meaning of ancient Maya palaces. At Actuncan, due to the high degree of preservation of many of the floors, overlying plaster surfaces were able to be sampled, thus informing not only how the buildings were used, but how their uses changed over time. Multivariate quantitative modeling and spatial interpolation of the chemical data demonstrate that a
variety of domestic, ritual, and possibly administrative activities took place in the palace complex, a finding that challenges previous assessments of palaces as primarily royal residential compounds.

LeCount, Lisa J. et al. 2016
“Geochemical characterization of inorganic residues on plaster floors from a Maya palace complex at Actuncan, Belize.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5 (2016) 453–464.

The online version has come out before the print version:

LeCount et al 2016