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It's about Time? Testing the Dawson Ceramic Seriation Using Luminescence Dating, Southern Nasca Region, Peru

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Kevin J. Vaughn
Department of Anthropology, Purdue University, 700 W State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (
Jelmer W. Eerkens
Department of Anthropology, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
Carl Lipo
Department of Anthropology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840
Sachiko Sakai
Department of Anthropology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840
Katharina Schreiber
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106


The Dawson seriation of Nasca ceramics has long been assumed to be an accurate marker of temporal changes in the prehispanic south coast of Peru. We test this assumption by directly dating a sample of sherds using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). Our results suggest that while some phases of the seriation are valid chronological markers, others appear to be the result of factors other than time. We discuss the implications of these results and call for additional studies of ceramics using luminescence dating



Los arqueólogos han asumido que la seriación de Dawson sobre la cerámica Nasca es un marcador preciso que registra cambios temporales en la costa sur del Perú prehispánico. Comprobamos esta asunción usando Luminiscencia Ópticamente Estimulada que fechó una muestra de 50 tiestos de cerámica provenientes de sitios ubicados en la región sur de Nasca. Nuestros resultados indican que algunas fases de la seriación Dawson son marcadores válidos de cronología, pero otros parecen ser el resultado de otros factores además del tiempo. En este trabajo discutimos las implicancias de estos resultados y sugerimos que son necesarios más estudios de cerámica usando fechados de luminiscencia.

Special Section: Rethinking Ceramic Chronologies, Part I
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2014

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