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Ritual and Economy in a Pre-Columbian Chiefdom

The El Cajón Region of Honduras

by Kenneth Hirth, Susan Hirth, George Hasemann, and Gloria Lara-Pinto

Hardcover Price $111.00
Ebook Price $88.00
30-day ebook rental price $44.00

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 “A welcome and much appreciated volume, extensively grounded in data and thoroughly informed by theoretical and comparative issues.
—John S. Henderson, Cornell University 
A valuable and significant contribution to our understanding of the rich ancient history of the Central American Indigenous peoples, particularly those communities located in central Honduras.”
—Silvia Salgado, University of Costa Rica
This volume examines the organization and ritual economy of a pre-Columbian chiefdom that developed in central Honduras over a 1,400-year period from 400 BC to AD 1000. Extremely applicable and broadly important to the archaeological studies of Mesoamerica, Ritual and Economy in a Pre-Columbian Chiefdom models the ritual organization of pre-Columbian societies across Honduras to expand the understanding of chiefdom societies in Central America and explore how these non-Maya societies developed and evolved. 
 As part of the ritual economy, a large quantity of jade and marble artifacts were deposited as offerings in the ritual architecture of the El Cajón region’s central community of Salitrón Viejo. Over 2,800 of these high-value items were recovered from their original ritual contexts, making Salitrón Viejo one of the largest in situ collections of these materials ever recovered in the New World. These materials are well dated and tremendously varied and provide a cross-section of all jade-carving lapidary traditions in use across eastern Mesoamerica between AD 250 and 350.
With a complementary website providing extensive additional description, visualization, and analysis
(, Ritual and Economy in a Pre-Columbian Chiefdom is a new and original contribution that employs an “economy of ritual approach” to the study of chiefdom societies in the Americas. It is a foundational reference point for any scholar working in Mesoamerica and Central America, especially those engaged in Maya research, as well as archaeologists working with societies at this scale of complexity in Latin America and around the world.

Kenneth Hirth is professor of anthropology at Penn State University, associate faculty in anthropology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, and director of the El Cajón Project. He has authored, edited, or coedited twenty-six books on different aspects of Mesoamerican archaeology and economy, including The Organization of Ancient Economies, The Aztec Economic World, Olmec Lithic Economy at San Lorenzo, and Merchants, Markets and Exchange in the Pre-Columbian World. He is a recipient of the National Geographic Society’s Chairman’s Career Achievement Award in Archaeology and the Society of American Archaeology’s Excellence in Lithic Studies Award.

Susan Hirth is an independent scholar and researcher and has conducted archaeological field research and laboratory analysis in the United States, Mexico, Honduras, and Peru. She was a field archaeologist and laboratory analyst of jade and ceramic materials from the El Cajón Project.

George Hasemann was a senior researcher and field archaeologist at the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History for the last twenty-three years of his life. He is the author of Investigaciones Arqueológicas en la Fortaleza de San Fernando y el Asentamiento Colonial de Omoa and Etnología y Lingüística en Honduras: Una Mirada Retrospectiva and coauthor of the six-volume series Historia General de Centroamérica, Indios de Centroamérica, and three other books. The Eco-Archaeological Park of Los Naranjos at the Yojoa Lake was dedicated to him in honor of his contributions to the protection of the cultural heritage of Honduras.

Gloria Lara-Pinto is professor of anthropology in the Department of Social Sciences at the National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazán in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She is the author of Educación de Adultos en Contextos Indígenas: Hacia una Educación Culturalmente Diferenciada en Honduras, and coauthor of the six-volume series Historia General de Centroamérica, Indios de Centroamérica, and eight other books. She is the first recipient of the Award for the Social Sciences granted by the National Autonomous University of Honduras and received the Teaching and Research Excellency Award from the National Pedagogical University. 

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  • Hardcover Price: $111.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-64642-474-0
  • Ebook Price: $88.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $44.00
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-475-7
  • Publication Month: September
  • Publication Year: 2023
  • Pages: 402
  • Illustrations: 115
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Kenneth Hirth, Susan Hirth, George Hasemann, and Gloria Lara-Pinto
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-64642-474-0
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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