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Obsidian Reflections

Symbolic Dimensions of Obsidian in Mesoamerica

edited by Marc N. Levine and David M. Carballo

Hardcover Price $71.00
Ebook Price $58.00
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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"We need more publications like this if we are to move forward in our understanding of the Mesoamerican past, its layering of landscapes, and the variable and ever-changing nature of its material culture. The often unsuspected worlds that such an approach reveals are an advance not only for Mesoamerican Studies but for archaeology in general."
—Nicholas J. Saunders, University of Bristol

"[T]he volume represents movement in a positive direction for obsidian studies and should be necessary reading for Mesoamerican archaeologists in general."
Latin American Antiquity

"[A] refreshing and long-overdue exploration of the emic significance of obsidian in ancient Mesoamerica. . . . [T]his volume is a useful pilot study that should be of interest to any serious Mesoamerican archaeologist."

Journal of Anthropological Research

"[A]n outstanding drive toward knowledge of symbolism and ancient ideologies related to obsidian in Mesoamerica, with approaches relevant beyond this region."

American Anthropologist

"The essays in Obsidian Reflections demonstrate the type of methodological innovation required to expand our understanding of the cultural production of the early modern world."

 Sixteenth Century Journal


Departing from the political economy perspective taken by the vast majority of volumes devoted to Mesoamerican obsidian, Obsidian Reflections is an examination of obsidian's sociocultural dimensions—particularly in regard to Mesoamerican world view, religion, and belief systems.

Exploring the materiality of this volcanic glass rather than only its functionality, this book considers the interplay among people, obsidian, and meaning and how these relationships shaped patterns of procurement, exchange, and use. An international group of scholars hailing from Belize, France, Japan, Mexico, and the United States provides a variety of case studies from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. The authors draw on archaeological, iconographic, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric data to examine obsidian as a touchstone for cultural meaning, including references to sacrificial precepts, powerful deities, landscape, warfare, social relations, and fertility.

Obsidian Reflections underscores the necessity of understanding obsidian from within its cultural context—the perspective of the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. It will be of great interest to Mesoamericanists as well as students and scholars of lithic studies and material culture.

Contributors: Kazuo Aoyama, Ivonne Athie, Jaime J. Awe, Mónica Blanco García Méndez, David M. Carballo, Véronique Darras, Jesús Carlos Lazcano Arce, Marc N. Levine, John Monaghan, William J. Parry, Alejandro Pastrana, Mari Carmen Serra Puche, W. James Stemp


Marc N. Levine is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma and assistant curator of archaeology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

David M. Carballo is an associate professor of archaeology at Boston University.

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  • Hardcover Price: $71.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60732-300-6
  • Ebook Price: $58.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-301-3
  • Publication Month: September
  • Publication Year: 2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Illustrations: 73
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Marc N. Levine and David M. Carballo
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-300-6
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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