A Story of Salt
American Archaeology — Spring 2017
Salt is a substance so ordinary and inexpensive today that its ready supply is often taken for granted. Yet salt is essential: humans need salt to live and also crave it as a flavoring and rely on it as a preservative.
For the ancient Maya residents of Nim Li Punit, Lubaantun, and other inland cities in Belize’s southern lowlands, there was a paucity of nearby sources. So archaeologists assumed they imported their salt from distant flats on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
But Louisiana State University archaeologist Heather McKillop appears to have disproven that assumption. McKillop has uncovered evidence that the Maya produced salt on a large scale in workshops on Belize’s southern coast and transported it to the cities. McKillop has found pottery vessels that were used to collect salt from evaporated brine as well as the remains of workshops where salt was produced. “Heather McKillop’s contribution, a major one, is that she has enhanced our understanding of the methods the Maya used for exploiting marine resources,” said archaeologist Jaime Awe, the former director of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology and now a professor at Northern Arizona University. “Her research is contributing to the understanding of the complexities of trade before the arrival of the Spanish.”
Francis Picabia’s Chameleonic Style
JSTOR Daily — February 15, 2017
The Museum of Modern Art’s current retrospective of Francis Picabia’s work has been celebrated by critics for shining a spotlight on one of modernism’s most confounding founders. ArtNews called the exhibit “one of the best shows of the year,” and Forbes declared it “exhilarating.”
What strikes most visitors is the exhibit’s sheer variety. Throughout his career, Picabia careened between styles, flipping from Cubism to Dadaism, from abstraction to portraiture. In fact, he rarely stuck with a style for more than a few years. A fiercely independent artist, he ignored movements and shunned trends. “If you want to have clean ideas, change them as often as your shirt,” Picabia advised.