Monday, June 29, 2009

31 bags of sherds

We have just finished classifying the second-largest collection of sherds from a single excavated level. We got through the largest batch, 34 bags of sherds, in 2008. But here is the next-largest collection, 31 bags of sherds from a single 20-cm level in unit 323.

The photo shows four of our experienced "tepalcateros" (tepalcate is the Nahuatl term for potsherds, used frequently in modern central Mexican Spanish). These women are from San Francisco Calixtlahuaca, and they have become very proficient at ceramic classification and other analytical tasks. All of these sherds arefrom this one level. The big pile are undecorated jar sherds (always the biggest category). the women are holding up some of the partial vessels they were able to fit together.

This summer we are working our way through ceramics from some of the deposits that are important for chronological purposes. Unit 323 consisted of some trenches on a terrace quite high on the hill. We have some good stratigraphy, with Early Aztec sherds at the base and what we think are late markers at the top. But deep in the trench, in the final days of the field season, we hit the edge of a burned house associated with a rich artifact deposit. Most of the house went into the side wall, and at nearly 2 meters deep at the end of the field season we did not have time to expose it further. But we did get some rich floats full of seeds or beans or something (these are being processed by Emily McClung at UNAM in Mexico City), a bunch of burned daub, and nice dense trash deposits with the kinds of sherds shown here.

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