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Eccentric, Rosalila cache, Copan (Artifact 90-9) (CPN P2759)

By Peabody Museum on Sketchfab

From "Individual Descriptions of Bifaces and Eccentrics" by Payson Sheets. Appendix to Protecting Sacred Space: Rosalila's Eccentric Chert Cache at Copan and Eccentrics among the Classic Maya by Ricardo Agurcia Fasquelle, Payson Sheets, and Karl Andreas Taube (Monograph 2, Precolumbia Mesoweb Press, San Francisco, 2016):

This eccentric probably was made by the same person who made eccentrics 90-3 and 90-4. As with those other two, this eccentric shows some difficulties in controlled flaking, with rather frequent flakes terminating in hinge or step fractures. All three in this group have quite broad notching and have protrusions at the top of the stem (base of the principal figure) that are almost identical. All three have flaring headdresses with broad and comparatively rough notches. All have an arm extended outward with the forearm held vertically, with tiny fingers at the end. And all three seem to show the results of a more experienced artisan in the final shaping of the forehead, face, arm, and hand.

Length (height) 375 mm. Width 140 mm. Thickness 18 mm. Weight 627 grams.

This is the thickest of all the nine eccentrics even though it is relatively short, and it shows more manufacturing difficulties than any other. The stem has no cortex, but the whitish discoloration at the very base may indicate a higher CaCO3 content of the chert, close to what was cortex. Importantly, the bottom (dorsal) side (i.e., principal figure facing right) has a patch of beige-colored cortex at the juncture of the stem and the main portion. Because that cortex is at the middle of the side, it is a reliable indicator that this artifact was made from a piece of tabular chert and not from the common nodular form of chert. The shape of the stem is somewhat irregular, as with eccentrics 90-3 and 90-4, and this may be deliberate. At the top of the back of the stem is a small protrusion that is quite thick as it leaves the stem and tapers rapidly to a feather edge. Perhaps it was a larger protrusion that was intended to be deeply notched, as were artifacts 90-3 and 90-4, but it broke in manufacture and was finished by indirect percussion and some pressure flaking into its present form. The remaining two protrusions are roughly shaped and have deep notching. The protrusion at the base of the back of the figure has five "teeth" but it would have had six. The bottom one broke, probably in manufacture but possibly in transport from workshop to cache. There is a good chance that the workshop was a provisional one that was set up very close to Rosalila. The protrusion below the arm has three deep notches and four shallower notches, alternating with each other, creating an unusual outline that was not replicated in any of the other eccentrics.

The headdress has deep oblique notching, perhaps signifying lightning. The artisan had some difficulty in achieving the individual notches and in creating an ascending series (getting larger toward the front end). The present 16 notches create 16 "teeth," but the headdress is missing a significant portion of the front. It most likely broke after being emplaced in the cache, perhaps by a strong earthquake that jostled the various artifacts against one another. It is unlikely that it was broken during emplacement in the cache, because it and all other eccentrics and the bifaces were elaborately wrapped before they were deposited. The broken fragment is missing at least 15–20 mm in length. And the notching and "teeth" are more elaborate at this frontal end, so it appears likely the artisan was intending treatment like eccentric 90-3. The pressure thinning and shaping on the most frontal extant "tooth" closely resembles that on the third-from-most-frontal "tooth" of eccentric 90-3. If something similar to eccentric 90-3's frontal finishing of the headdress was intended with this one, then what is missing here is over 25 mm in length, consisting of perhaps two elaborate flares.

The final finishing, by pressure flaking, of the forehead, face, neck, arm, and hand was very well done, probably by a more skilled artisan in the workshop. The hand ends with two fingers, as with eccentrics 90-3 and 90-4. The notching to create the lips and fingers was done by a pressure flaker with a much smaller diameter tip than the rest of the notching on this piece, and the care and skill were greater, all pointing toward the master likely doing the final touches on the most important portions.

Following the final pressure flaking, the eccentric was wrapped in blue, green, and brown fabric, and finally in barkcloth, to complete the sacred bundling of this eccentric.

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