On the stone’s edge: lithic analysis
Sharp tools have always been a necessity in the daily life of human beings. In ancient Mesoamerica, these types of tools were made with obsidian. Their use was not only common but also practically indispensable. For this reason, obsidian is likely to be found during all excavations and is carefully analyzed by specialists.
Around 70,000 obsidian pieces were analyzed in 2019, revealing not only artifacts which were used constantly in the daily life of city inhabitants but also tools that were manufactured right there inside the Plaza of the Columns Complex. By looking at the type and condition of these tools, we can infer how they were made, what kind of methods were used to work the material, and what type of obsidian was used. For example, we see that gray obsidian comes in pieces that are less modified than those made of green obsidian. From the looks of it, green obsidian came in high quantities of ready-to-use tools, especially prismatic blades.
In addition to obsidian implements manufactured for practical use, we have also found artifacts that were placed as part of an offering. These include blades, perforators, and something called “eccentrics,” which are highly elaborate objects that were carved into many diverse shapes – these do not seem to be items for practical use. Dave Walton analyzed the ritual obsidian artifacts found in Offering D4, and his study revealed that these objects were placed there, practically brand new; they didn´t show any evidence of significant wear. He did find some with traces of blood on them, suggesting that they could have been used in some sacrificial event related to that offering.