Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Imported Ceramics, or the Lack Thereof

We’re still waiting for our Neutron Activation Analysis ceramic results from Missouri University, but in the meantime a look at decorative types can give some hint as to the patterns we may get.  The most striking of these (so far, at least) have to do with imports. Patterns of imported ceramics can tell us who the occupants of Calixtlahuaca were interacting with, and whether these patterns of interaction changed over time. This analysis is still a work in progress, so please consider all numbers given here as provisional estimates.

The first pattern is the increase in the imports over time. At Calixtlahuaca, there are very few imports from anywhere during the Middle Postclassic (the period prior to the foundation of the Aztec Empire), followed by a steady increase during the Late Postclassic-A and Late-Postclassic B (The periods when the Aztec Empire existed, divided approximately around the time the Empire conquered Calixtlahuaca). This pattern of steady increase is consistent for both Aztec style ceramics, and the few imports from other regions.
The second pattern is the low diversity of imports.  The ceramics that are imported overwhelmingly come from the Basin of Mexico.  None of the households had even a single piece of Tarascan ceramics, (though we do find West Mexican copper/bronze and obsidian at Calixtlahuaca) and the few other imported pieces come primarily from Morelos. My (currently unquantified) impression is also that even the Aztec imports represent only a subset of the motifs and/or variants of these types that are present in the Basin of Mexico. For example, with the exception of a piece or two, all of the polished redwares (guinda) that we excavated feature one of two patterns. 

Both of these points are in direct contrast to contemporary Late Postclassic sites in Morelos.  There, the LPC-A frequency starts out much higher than at Calixtlahuaca and drops during the LPC-B (Morelos data taken from Earle and Smith, 2012).  Sites in Morelos also show a higher diversity of sources for imports (Evidence – The sheer number of regional types in our classification guide which I’ve never seen an example of, and when I’ve asked Mike about them, he says “Well, we get them in Morelos!”. )