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Jadeite tool. Credit: Heather McKillop, LSU.
Anthropologists discovered a tool made out of high-quality translucent jadeite with an intact rosewood handle at a site where the ancient Maya processed salt in Belize. The discovery of these high-quality materials—jadeite and rosewood—used as utilitarian tools, demonstrates that salt workers played an important role in the Classic Maya marketplace economy more than 1,000 years ago.
Salt - Workers - Entrepreneurs - High-quality - Tools
"The salt workers were successful entrepreneurs who were able to obtain high-quality tools for their craft through the production and distribution of a basic biological necessity: salt. Salt was in demand for the Maya diet. We have discovered that it was also a storable form of wealth and an important preservative for fish and meat," said lead researcher and anthropologist Heather McKillop, who is the Thomas & Lillian Landrum Alumni Professor in the LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology.
Jadeite is a hard rock that varies from translucent to opaque. During the Classic Period of A.D. 300-900, high-quality translucent jadeite was typically reserved for unique and elaborate jadeite plaques, figurines and earrings for royalty and other elites. However, McKillop and colleagues recovered the jadeite tool at the site of an...
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