M.A. Theses: Gayel A. Horsfall, 1983

Design Theory Perspective On Variability in Grinding Stones

Grinding stones are often of considerable importance in the subsistence economy of traditional societies. However, they have received minimal analytical attention by archaeologists. Using ethnoarchaeological data from one Maya Highland village, the concepts of design analysis are used to determine the implications of variation in grinding stone material and morphology. Results are compared to ethnoarchaeological data from a second village, as well as to available data in the ethnographic, archaeological, historical and modern industrial literature.

Variation in grinding stone material exists in traditional societies and is related to variation in grinding function. The strength of the relationship appears to increase as the quantity and economic importance of the substance being processed increases.

Variation in grinding stone morphology reflects the interaction of stone material characteristics, technology, socioeconomic organization and function. Functional concerns focus primarily on increasingly efficient use of human energy, although morphological expression of this concern varies. Development of craft specialization and a market economy occur repeatedly as factors affecting grinding stone variation, and appear to be related in part to increased artifact demand.