Research and Reflections in Archaeology and History is a collection of papers assembled to honor Doris Stone, a pioneering figure in the archeology of Central America, who is especially known for her work in Honduras and Costa Rica. The authors of the papers are scholars representing personal or institutional associations with Stone, and unfortunately their diversity prevents any thematic coherence in the volume. Besides a summary of Stone’s career and compilation of her bibliography by Stephen Williams, only two papers treat Central American archeology (perhaps indicating that the field in which she pioneered still has a long way to go before being saturated by scholars). One of these is an amusing tongue-in-cheek reflection on the state of Honduran archeology by Agurcia; the other, by Lange, compares Central America with the Southwestern U.S., as two peripheries of the larger light of Mesoamerica. Seven papers treat various aspects of Mesoamerican archeology, including Olmec jades in the Maya area (Andrews), the Olmec calendar round (Edmonson), an important interpretation of Mars astronomical tables in the Dresden Codex (Bricker and Bricker), Yucatecan sculpture (M. Robertson), reflections on the Maya sociopolitical order (Willey), styles of Aztec sculpture (D. Robertson), and the history of Colonial Mexico’s college of San Juan de Letrán (Greenleaf). One paper treats non-New World issues entirely, as Lamberg-Karlovsky provides a thought-provoking comparison of the origins of writing in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus valley.
The Archaeology of Santa Leticia is one of a growing number of monographs to emerge from one of the current “hot topics” in Maya archeology: the study of the area known as the “Southeast Periphery,” i.e., modern Honduras and El Salvador. This region is of particular interest to Mayanists in the Late Preclassic period because of longstanding (if vague) theories concerning interrelationships between this frontier area and the lowlands which stimulated the development of Classic Maya civilization.
Santa Leticia is a small domestic and ceremonial site located in western El Salvador, and excavations at portions of the site dating between 500 B.C. and A.D. 100 have made substantial strides in resolving many of these questions. Although work at the site was initiated to investigate the nature of Middle Preclassic Olmec influences (reflected in the “potbelly” sculptures common on the Pacific coast), the serendipitous discovery of a Late Preclassic domestic area—a house and storage facilities—demanded a revised excavation strategy. This resulted in the major achievement of the study: a detailed characterization of life in a Late Preclassic highland village, including tools, utensils, diet, and trade. The monograph is probably too technical to be of serious interest to most HAHR readers, as it devotes many pages to description of ceramic types plus ten appendixes on lithics, botanical remains, technical analyses, etc. For specialists, however, it will he an important contribution to our understanding of this part of the Maya area.