Ceramics as Means to Ends and Means of Expression in Terminal Classic Northwestern Honduras

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

As perhaps the artifact most commonly recovered from most Mesoamerican sites, ceramics have figured prominently in efforts to reconstruct culture history and describe sociopolitical and economic patterns at various spatial and temporal scales. Much of this work has focused on analyzing pottery vessel fragments for the information they can provide on manufacturing techniques, vessel functions, and meanings conveyed primarily through stylistic modes. As valuable as these studies have been they are often stymied by our inability to identify who fashioned ceramic containers, at what scales, and how manufacturing processes might have been implicated in the exercise of power over others or the power to resist such pretensions. The contributions other fired-clay objects might have made to these processes are often ignored because their rarity in assemblages frustrates efforts to investigate them systematically. This session addresses both issues by presenting evidence gathered in the Naco valley and its environs concerning: the diverse ways pottery vessels were fashioned here during the Terminal Classic (AD 800-1000); how that variation was possibly related to local political and economic processes; and, what technological, formal, and distributional studies of a very unusual ceramic artifact, the candelero, contribute to understanding these developments.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-5 of 5)

  • Documents (5)

  • Birds, Monkeys, and Shapes, Oh My!:Investigating Intersecting Motifs on Ceramic Vessels, Stamps, and Candeleros (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marne Ausec. Patricia Urban. Jacob Griffith-Rosenberg. Reagan Neviska. Chelsea Katzeman.

    Ongoing design description and analysis have revealed commonalities in the decoration of diverse ceramic artifact classes. Here we outline the specifics of these design features, focusing on depictions of monkeys and birds, geometric designs such as crosshatching and dots, and how these are used individually and in combinations. The use of similar designs on diverse pottery artifact classes suggests a commonality of accepted design elements, although there are differences between classes in...

  • Fashioning Meaning through Ceramic Candeleros in the Terminal Classic Naco Valley, Northwestern Honduras (2015)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Jacob Griffith-Rosenberger. Reagan Neviska. Chelsea Katzeman.

    Candeleros are simply made ceramic artifacts that consist of one or more cylindrical chambers that are usually circularly arranged and often show signs of burning. These objects are found widely across Mesoamerica though they are rare in most locales. The 100 km2 Naco Valley in northwestern Honduras diverges from this pattern in that: candeleros are frequently found in Terminal Classic (800-1000 CE) assemblages here; they vary in size from items containing a single chamber to others with upwards...

  • Is It Hot Enough Yet? Reconstructing Firing Temperatures for Prehistoric Honduran Ceramics through Re-Firing Experiments (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Caroline Del Giudice. Patricia Urban. Edward Schortman.

    Investigations conducted in the Naco valley and its environs within NW Honduras from 1975-2008 have revealed multiple facilities in which ceramic containers were fired. The vast majority of these date to the Late (AD 600-800) and Terminal Classic periods (AD 800-1000). Their diverse forms and dimensions hint at variations in aspects of production including the temperatures at which the vessels were heated and the degree of control artisans exercised over the manufacturing process. One line of...

  • Through a Smoke Cloud Darkly: The Possible Social Significance of Candeleros in Terminal Classic Naco Valley Society (2015)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Patricia Urban. Edward Schortman. Jacob Griffith-Rosenberger. Reagan Neviska. Chelsea Katzeman.

    Candeleros, fired clay artifacts with one to over 20 chambers, are widely distributed across Terminal Classic (AD 800-1000) contexts in the Naco valley of northwestern Honduras. Though reported from other parts of Mesoamerica, little is known about the varied ways this distinctive artifact figured in tasks engaged in by people of diverse ranks and might have been used in negotiating interpersonal transactions. This presentation provides initial responses to these queries based on a functional...

  • Variations in Late and Terminal Classic Ceramic Firing Facilities within Southeastern Mesoamerica. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patricia Urban.

    Research conducted in the adjoining Naco and Middle Chamelecon and Cacaulapa River (MCC) valleys of northwestern Honduras has revealed a wide array of ceramic firing facilities and implements used in fabricating pottery vessels during the Late (AD 600-800) and Terminal Classic (AD 800-1000). The diversity of manufacturing processes is especially well represented at two major workshops, one located at the Naco valley center of La Sierra and the other at the site of Las Canoas in the MCC. The...