Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Rice, Don


The role of warfare in Maya society is much debated, but it seems to have been widespread during the Late Postclassic (A.D. 1250-1519) and Protohistoric (A.D. 1519-1696) periods. This study investigates the manner in which the Maya engaged in warfare during these centuries by reviewing archaeological data on Maya warfare and Spanish accounts of their contacts with the Maya of central Petén, Guatemala. The bow and arrow, which were not used during the Classic period, are "area weapons" that can be used at a distance, and appear to have changed the character and tactics of warfare in the Postclassic period and in Maya defensive interactions with the Spaniards. Eighty small projectile points from the sites of Zacpetén and Ixlú were analyzed. These triangular points, believed to have tipped arrows, were made of chert and obsidian and varied particularly in the placement and number of notches, in the shape of their bases, and in the amount of retouch. Notching and basal variation do not clearly relate to differing ethno-political units in the central Petén Postclassic, to functional areas of the sites, or to ballistic performance. Variations in amount of retouch may indicate that the points were made quickly.




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