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Analysis of the Context and Contents of an Ulua-Style Marble Vase from the Palmarejo Valley, Honduras

  • E. Christian Wells (a1), Karla L. Davis-Salazar (a1), José E. Moreno-Cortes (a1), Glenn S. L. Stuart (a2) and Anna C. Novotny (a3)...

Abstract

Ulúa-style marble vases played important social, political, economic, and religious roles in southern Mesoamerica during the seventh through eleventh centuries A.D. However, most such vessels known to archaeologists are part of looted collections or else were unearthed before the advent of modern archaeological practices. As a result, little is known about the context, use, and chronology of these objects. Recent investigations at the site of Palos Blancos in northwest Honduras discovered an Ulúa-style marble vase in an undisturbed mortuary context. Excavation of the burial context, along with bioarchaeological and stable isotope analysis of the human remains, suggests that the vase was placed as an offering, possibly to an ancestor of the residential group. Phosphate and pollen studies indicate that the vase once held a corn-based beverage . Radiocarbon dating of four charcoal samples from immediately below and adjacent to the vase yielded a range of dates from the beginning of the Late Classic period, ca.A.D. 600-800. Through analyses of the context and contents of the vase, this research contributes to a more holistic understanding of the use and meaning of Ulúa-style marble vases in southern Mesoamerica.

Resumen

Los vasos de mármol del estilo Ulúa desempeñaron importantes papeles sociales, politicos, económicos, y religiosos en el sur de Mesoamérica durante los siglos séptimo a onceavo d.C. Sin embargo, la mayoría de dichas vasijas conocidas por los arqueológos forman parte de colecciones saqueadas ofueron desenterradas antes de la disponibilidad de prácticas arqueológicas modernas. Como resultado, se sabe muy poco sobre su contexto, uso, y cronología. Excavaciones recientes en el sitio Palos Blancos en el Valle de Palmarejo en el noroeste de Honduras descubrieron un vaso de mdrmol del estilo Ulúa en un contexto mortuorio intacto. Este trabajo reporta los resultados de los andlisis del depósito y de los contenidos del vaso, así como la datación de materias orgánicas asociadas con el hallazgo. El contexto del entierro así como los análisis bioarqueológicos y de isótopos estables de los restos humanos sugieren que el vasofue colocado como una ofrenda hecha tal vet a un ancestro del grupo residencial. Los estudios de fosfatos y del polen indican que el vaso alguna vez contuvo una bebida de maiz. La datación por radiocarbono de cuatro muestras de carbón tomadas inmediatamente debajo y adyacentes al vaso proveyó una serie defechas (cal. 2a 595 ±55, 615 ±45, 625 ±45, 705 ±65 d.C.) que corresponden principalmente al principio del período Clásico Tardío, ca. 600-800 d.C. Un espécimen en directa asociación con los restos humanos brindó una fecha de cal. 2a 495 ± 85 d.C, sugiriendo que el vaso nofue añadido al conjunto funerario hasta un siglo después del entierro initial. A través de los análisis del contexto y del contenido del vaso, esta investigation contribuye a una comprensión más completa del uso y significado de los vasos de mármol del estilo Ulúa en el sur de Mesoamérica.

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