Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ceramics and chronology

Angela and I are working on ceramic seriation right now. We are using counts of ceramic types to define ceramic phases (time periods), and we will use the results to assign as many of our excavated and surface contexts to a time period. I'll post more details when we have made more progress. But for some time how we have noticed an interesting chronological pattern that is very different from the ceramic situation at the provincial sites I excavated previously in Morelos.

We have noticed a strong association between the three ceramic types pictured here:
  1. comals (tortilla griddles)
  2. Texcoco fabric-marked (salt transport vessels), and 
  3. Aztec III black-on-orange.
In Morelos this correlation does not exist. There, salt vessels and comals ran throughout the sequence (Middle and Late Postclassic periods), whereas Aztec III was only found in the Late Postclassic. Most comals were locally made, and there are lots of them at the Morelos sites. The other two types were imported from the Basin of Mexico (as we showed with chemical analysis).
At Calixtlahuaca, however, the strong correlation among these types suggest that people were not using comals in the Middle Postclassic, and that they were not importing their salt from the Basin of Mexico at that time either. Then in the Late Postclassic, they started importing Aztec III bowls, Texcoco fabric-marked vessels, AND comals. All of our comals resemble closely the Late Postclassic comals from the Basin of Mexico; also, comals are much, much rarer at Calixtlahuaca than in Morelos.

So what does this mean? Until our seriation work is complete I don't want to speculate too much. Howeever these three types suggest very different patterns of trade and interaction between center and provinces than I documented in Morelos. And if they didn't have comals prior to the Late Postclassic, then they weren't eating torillas. Unfortunately we have been unable to identify vessels for steaming tamales, the logical tortilla alternative.

Stay tuned......

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