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BRIQUETAGE AND BRINE: LIVING AND WORKING AT THE CLASSIC MAYA SALT WORKS OF EK WAY NAL, BELIZE

, E. Cory Sills
Published: 4 October 2021

Abstract: Systematic flotation survey and spatial analysis of artifacts at the submerged salt work of Ek Way Nal reveal evidence of a residence, salt kitchens, and additional activities. Ek Way Nal is one of 110 salt works associated with a Late to Terminal Classic (A.D. 600–900) salt industry known as the Paynes Creek Salt Works. Wooden posts that form the walls of 10 buildings are remarkably preserved in a peat bog below the sea floor providing an opportunity to examine surface artifacts in relation to buildings. Numerous salt kitchens have been located at the Paynes Creek Salt Works by evidence of abundant briquetage—pottery associated with boiling brine over fires to make salt. As one of the largest salt works with 10 buildings, there is an opportunity to examine variability in building use. Systematic flotation survey over the site and flagging and mapping individual artifacts and posts provide evidence that the Ek Way Nal salt makers had a residence near the salt kitchens, along with evidence of salting fish for subsistence or surplus household production. The results are compared with ethnographic evidence from Sacapulas and other salt works.
Keywords: spatial analysis / survey / buildings / Ek Way Nal / salt works / flotation / residence

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