International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 643–667

“With the Gifts and Good Treatment That He Gave Them”: Elite Maya Adoption of Spanish Material Culture at Progresso Lagoon, Belize


DOI: 10.1007/s10761-014-0274-1

Cite this article as:
Oland, M. Int J Histor Archaeol (2014) 18: 643. doi:10.1007/s10761-014-0274-1


Spanish artifacts make up a tiny percentage of all artifacts found on the west shore of Progresso Lagoon, a Maya community in northern Belize occupied from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century. Textual references suggest that Spanish encomenderos distributed these objects as “gifts” during reduction and pacification efforts, but the careful distribution of these artifacts suggests specific political and economic choices made by Maya individuals. This article compares Spanish material culture from Progresso Lagoon with other Maya sites along the frontier of the Spanish colony, in an attempt to define how strategies of Maya consumption of foreign objects varied with intensity of colonial interaction, social status, and function. The consumption of Spanish artifacts at Progresso Lagoon suggests elite strategies for retaining legitimacy in the uncertain political and economic climate of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries.


Postclassic-colonial period Maya Spanish colonialism Consumption Colonial frontiers 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Anthropology and Latin American and Latino/a Studies, Smith CollegeNorthamptonUSA

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