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A New Perspective on the Relationships among Cream Paste Ceramic Traditions of Southeastern Mesoamerica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Hector Neff
Affiliation:
Missouri University Research Reactor Center, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211.
James W. Cogswell
Affiliation:
Missouri University Research Reactor Center, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211.
Laura J. Kosakowsky
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215.
Francisco Estrada Belli
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215.
Frederick J. Bove
Affiliation:
ISBER, University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106

Abstract

New ceramic compositional evidence has come to light that bears on the relationships among the cream paste ceramics of southeastern Mesoamerica. This evidence, which derives from instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and microprobe analysis, suggests that Ivory ware, a Late and Terminal Formative diagnostic found in southern Guatemala, is chemically similar not to other Guatemalan light firing pottery, but to Formative and Classic period cream paste wares from western El Salvador and Honduras. El Salvador is the clearest region of overlap between the Late Formative (Ivory Usulután) and Classic (Chilanga, Gualpopa, and Copador) representatives of this chemically homogeneous cream paste tradition, and therefore we argue that the source zone for all of them lies somewhere in western El Salvador and not in Honduras or Guatemala. This inference contradicts (1) our own earlier hypothesis that Ivory ware originated somewhere in the Guatemalan highlands and (2) the hypothesis that cream paste Copador originated in the Copán Valley. If this inference is correct, then (1) the importance of ceramic circulation in the Late and Terminal Formative Providencia and Miraflores interaction spheres has been underestimated and (2) during the Classic period, Copán absorbed the productive capacity of western El Salvador (represented in this case by cream paste polychrome pottery) to a greater extent than has been appreciated previously.

Resumen

Resumen

Nuevos datos obtenidos a través de análisis por activación de neutrones y análisis con el “microprobe” han permitido nuevas interpretaciones sobre las relaciones entre varios tipos de cerámica con pasta de color crema del suroriente de Mesoamérica. Esta evidencia sugiere que la vajilla Marfíl, que es diagnóstica del período Formativo Tardío y Terminal del sur de Guatemala, es químicamente semejante no a otras vajillas crema de Guatemala, sino a vajillas de pasta crema del período Clásico de El Salvador y Honduras. Debido a que el occidente de El Salvador es la región donde se translapan más claramente las distribuciones de los representantes Formativos y Clásicos de esta tradición de pasta color crema (Marfil Usulután para el Formativo y Chilanga, Gualpopa, y Copador para el Clásico), creemos que las materias primas se originan en esta región y no en Honduras o Guatemala. Esta inferencia contradice (1) nuestra propia hipótesis sobre la producción de la cerámica Marfil en el altiplano de Guatemala y (2) la hipótesis de que la cerámica polícroma Clásica con pasta crema se produjo en el Valle de Copán. Si esta inferencia fuera correcta, entonces (1) la circulación de vasijas cerámicas durante los períodos Formativo Tardío y Formativo Terminal en las esferas de interacción “Providencia” y “Miraflores” fue más importante que lo que indican las investigaciones anteriores y (2) durante el período Clásico, Copán fue absorbiendo la capacidad de producción del occidente de El Salvador en mayor grado de lo que se había apreciado anteriormente (en este caso la capacidad de producción se representa por la cerámica con pasta crema).

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 1999

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