Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Lantern censer"

Marc Levine sent me a citation for a vessel that matches our odd "fondue-pot" pretty closely. Several of these have been excavated at Cholula. Geoff McCafferty (2001:43) calls these "lantern censers" within his type Xicalli Plain, and illustrates two complete examples from the Universidad de las Américas excavations at Cholula.The vessel in the drawing shown here (from p.43) is from UA-79. This is a "minor vessel form" at Cholula, with 56 sherds excavated (table, p. 44). The overall type Xicalli Plain (with numerous vessel forms) is found in the entire sequence from Epiclassic through Late Postclassic, but its not clear whether the lantern censers occur in a more limited time span.

Geoff cites Muller (1978:129) for a photo of another example (see photo here). Muller calls this a brazier lid of the type "Cerámica Fresco Seco." She dates it to the Cholulteca III period, but her chronological assignments are often wrong.

This is as close to our odd ceramic type 180 as I have seen yet. Thanks to Marc Levine for pointing out the discussion in Geoff McCafferty's Cholula ceramics report.

This bring up the larger issue of using the internet to help identify unusual archaeological objects. In this case some good comparative materials were published, but we had yet to locate the descriptions. But in many cases the relevant comparative material is either not published or is published in obscure places that are difficult to find. Archaeologists always have a box of weird sherds that they can't identify, and when colleagues visit the lab one is sure to pull out the box to see if any of the sherds can be identified. I have found Tlahuica polychrome sherds (from Postclassic Morelos) in many such collections at labs outside of Morelos. Woudln't it be nice if there were a central website where people could post their odd sherds and get help identifying them? Perhaps something like "The Weird Aztec Sherd Site." Until that happens, though, I guess a blog like this can help in a small way.

McCafferty, Geoffrey G. (2001) Ceramics of Postclassic Cholula, Mexico: Typology and Seriation of the Pottery from the UA-1 Domestic Compound. Monographs vol. 43. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, Los Angeles.

Muller, Florencia (1978) La Alfarería de Cholula. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City.

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