Featured Artifacts: Mayan Eccentric Flints

Eccentric Flint Eccentric Flint

Stone is one of several media chosen by Mayan artists to represent their world view. The finest and most elaborate Mayan stone objects are known as "eccentrics". Eccentric flints are non-utilitarian chipped artifacts, typically made using varieties of chert, chalcedony and obsidian. It is believed that Mayan eccentrics were produced in lithic workshops by specialists. The skills required to manufacture these fine objects is immense, far beyond those of present-day flint knappers.Little is known about Maya eccentric flints. Their forms are diverse, but they usually depict elements of the sacred world, such as special animals and geometric forms, as well as important human figures. For example, many representations of scorpions and human heads have been found. Some eccentrics are leaf-shaped (lanceolate), with a narrow projection (tang) at the base, suggesting they were originally attached to a shaft, perhaps a lance or a sceptre. Most examples of Maya eccentric flints have been discovered in caches, where they were stored for protection and placed as offerings. Therefore, even though archaeologists accept that Maya eccentrics were mainly used as offerings, they also agree that they could have been symbolic weapons for divine warriors. In any case, eccentric flints were high status, sacred objects that were closely related to the power of Maya elites.Nowadays, Maya eccentrics are admired for their technical complexity and their aesthetic beauty as they are among the finest examples of artistic achievements in the New World.