Cloth production and economic intensification in the area surrounding Chichen Itza

Traci Ardren, T. Kam Manaban, Julie Kay Wesp, Alejandra Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Recent investigations at the site ofXuenkal on the plains north of Chichén Itzá provide evidence of the changing regional political environment during the Terminal Classic Period (A.D. 900-1000). This paper examines a collection of spindle whorls recovered during the 2005, 2006, and 2007 field seasons of the Proyecto Arqueológico Xuenkal (PAX) as evidence for intensification of craft production. Through this analysis and comparison with spindle whorl collections from other Lowland Maya sites, we suggest the inhabitants ofXuenkal rapidly adapted to changing economic demands by increasing the amount of cloth produced in their residential settings, perhaps in response to increased tribute demands that emanated from the dominant political power of the region. Spinning and weaving is associated with the female gender during the Classic Period in Mesoamerica. Thus, intensification of this gendered activity not only produced excess materials for the state, but also reinforced its gender ideology. Analysis of these artifacts adds to the knowledge of Maya cloth production and addresses the nature of Chichén Itzá's influence on regional sites during the height of its influence in the Terminal Classic period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-289
Number of pages16
JournalLatin American Antiquity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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