Cylindrical stamps such as these were produced over more than a millennium throughout Central America. Rolled in pigments, they were likely used to decorate textiles, ceramics, and the bodies of important individuals. W. W. Chase, a University of Michigan professor of wildlife management, acquired these cylindrical stamps from the Reventazón River Valley in Costa Rica in the early 1960s. Individuals seeking elaborate gold objects from elite burials have looted this region’s archaeological sites, and unprovenienced objects like these stamps are probably the unwanted byproducts of site destruction. Because archaeologists lack detailed contextual information about the stamps, they have limited understanding of their specific history and use.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.