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Negotiations with the Animate Forest: Hunting Shrines in the Guatemalan Highlands

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Abstract

Ethnoarchaeological research at highland Maya hunting shrines documents the material remains of interactions between two types of animate beings: humans and the forest. When either active agent enters the others’ domain there are accompanying ceremonial activities to assuage the inherent danger, often leaving physical traces in the material record. These traces, if found in the archaeological record, might reveal similar ancient interactions. Using the material correlates of modern hunting rituals, we explore the utility of ethnoarchaeological research in identifying negotiations with non-human agents associated with the animate forest – an active agent in many societies.

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Acknowledgements

Brown’s survey and ethnographic research on hunting shrines was supported by a grant from the Foundation for Mesoamerican Research, Inc. (FAMSI #05012) during the year 2005. The zooarchaeological analyses and activity area research reported herein were supported by a grant to Emery by Wenner-Gren and co-directed by Emery and Brown in 2006. IRB approval was provided for both facets of the study [IRB# U020519ER]. Zooarchaeological identifications were completed by Emery, and University of Florida graduate students Erin Thornton, Elyse Anderson, and Michelle LeFebvre. Basic counts were calculated by Anderson, and analyses and interpretations were completed by Emery. Anderson will be continuing research on the archaeological implications of the ethnozoological material signatures. Thanks go to Karl Taube for the use of his wonderful illustration. In Guatemala, we would like to thank the people of San Juan la Laguna, San Pedro la Laguna, and Santiago Atitlán, and specifically our very fine research assistants: Manuel, Francisco, Pedro, and Dolores. Thanks goes to David and Susie Glanville at La Posada de Santiago for taking such good care of us and to Nancy Hoffman, of Guatemala Reservations, who made sure all transports included the right size baby car seat. We greatly appreciated the comments and insights of our anonymous reviewers as well as Cathy Cameron and Jim Skibo. We accept full responsibility for any errors or oversights in the manuscript.

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Brown, L.A., Emery, K.F. Negotiations with the Animate Forest: Hunting Shrines in the Guatemalan Highlands. J Archaeol Method Theory 15, 300–337 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-008-9055-7

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