The Breaking and Making of Ceramics in the Pre-Columbian Caribbean: A Technological Approach to Grog Identification

Author(s): Amanda Guzman

Year: 2015


Grog is a technological phenomenon present in archaeological assemblages spanning widely across time and space. Traditionally defined as a grounded down, previously fired ceramic used as temper during clay preparation, grog belongs to a wider category of additives which increase porosity and reduce shrinkage, thereby lessening the likelihood of vessel crack progression during the drying and firing stages of ceramic production. Beyond this basic description of its functional properties, grog has not received adequate scholarly attention as a complex, highly variable technological practice. Through the application of an array of technical methods including fabric analysis, petrography, microprobe study (EMPA) and experimental reconstruction, this study aims to refine overly-generalized, classic characterizations of grog and to develop an adjustable range of selection criteria which can differentiate grog types with greater resolution. Building on a growing corpus of ceramic characterization studies in the Caribbean region, the project explores a micro-scale analysis of an assemblage of decorative lugs ('adornos') from the Pre-Columbian site of El Cabo (AD 800-1504) in the Dominican Republic. Preliminary research findings suggest an under-reporting of grog in the archaeological record and an under-representation of its potential compositional diversity which together challenge normative definitions which distinguish natural and culturally occurring tempers.

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The Breaking and Making of Ceramics in the Pre-Columbian Caribbean: A Technological Approach to Grog Identification. Amanda Guzman. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397974)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;