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Spouted Vessels and Cacao Use among the Preclassic Maya

  • Terry G. Powis (a1), Fred Valdez (a2), Thomas R. Hester (a3), W. Jeffrey Hurst (a4) and Stanley M. Tarka (a5)...

Abstract

Spouted vessels are diagnostic forms of Middle Preclassic (1000–400 B. C.) and Late Preclassic (400 B. C.-A. D. 250) Maya ceramic assemblages. Mayanists have traditionally called these vessels “chocolate pots,” but until recently there has been little direct evidence to support this interpretation. In fact, few studies have focused on the role these specialized forms played in the daily social and ritual activities of the ancient Maya. This paper provides a contextual and functional analysis of Preclassic spouted vessels found across the Maya lowlands and highlands. Additionally, the results of chemical analyses on residues collected from spouted vessels found in Middle and Late Preclassic burials at Colha, Belize are provided. Preliminary data reveal that some of the vessels from Colha contained substantial amounts of theobromine, a distinct marker for cacao or chocolate. The significance of the discovery of chocolate in Maya spouted vessels is discussed as well as its implications for the rest of Mesoamerica.

Las vasijas con vertedera son una forma diagnóstica de la cerámica maya del Preclásico Medio (1000–400 a. C.) y del Preclásico Tardío (400 a. C.-250 d. C.). Tradicionalmente los arquólogos han denominado a estas vasijas “jarras de chocolate”, pero hasta ahora no se contaba con evidencias directas para apoyar esta interpretación. De hecho, pocos estudios se han enfocado en el papel que estas formas especializadas tuvieron en actividades sociales y rituales cotidianas entre los mayas. Esta investigación ofrece una análisis contextual y funcional de piezas completas con vertedera del Preclásico en diferentes sitios del altiplano y de las tierras bajas mayas. Además, se incluyen los resultados de los análisis químicos de residuos de vasijas de esta clase encontradas en entierros del Preclásico en Colha, Belice. Para esta última colección, los resultados preliminares indican que algunas piezas contenían cantidades considerables de teobromina, un marcador característico del cacao o chocolate. En este artículo se discute la relevancia de la identificación positiva de chocolate en las vasijas con vertedera mayas así como sus implicaciones para Mesoamérica.

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Spouted Vessels and Cacao Use among the Preclassic Maya

  • Terry G. Powis (a1), Fred Valdez (a2), Thomas R. Hester (a3), W. Jeffrey Hurst (a4) and Stanley M. Tarka (a5)...

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