El Mirador, Peten, Guatemala

Project Zooarchaeologists: Kitty Emery and Erin Thornton

How did the earliest “elite” of the Maya world use and control their abundant animal resources to enhance their status and record their wealth?

El Mirador was one of the most fabulous and developed of the Preclassic cities of the Maya world. With its monumental constructions and obvious complexity of land-use, is it any wonder that we are fascinated by the ways that the residents of this site used their environs not only as a source of food, but also for ritual, economics, and politics? How did they first use animal products and images as markers for status and wealth in this locus of early development of hierarchical society? How did they manipulate the resources to ensure that the emerging elite were provided with the best and the tastiest foods, and the most spectacular shell jewelry and bone tools?