Rethinking Ceramics as Evidence of Regional Interaction

Author(s): Rosemary Joyce

Year: 2016


In Central America, recent research crosses national boundaries that once divided archaeological analyses, including by identifying historically related ceramics with regionalized names. This paper argues for using contemporary concepts that do not tie us to the culture historical approach, with its equivalences of a people, a material culture, a language, and an identity, to fully understand emerging data. Culture history worked as a preliminary step to clarify relations in areas like Mesoamerica where political centralization and markets led to regional integration of material culture. Central America is different, with an astonishing diversity of things made within much smaller territories. In this paper, I use my work on Honduras' Ulua Polychrome and Las Vegas Polychrome traditions, and related Salua Polychrome of El Salvador and Galo Polychrome of the Nicoya area, to demonstrate a practice-based framework employing the concepts of technological style, communities of practice, and constellations of practice. I argue that the level of action for pottery production and use was the town or local community of practice, not an abstract regional culture or language-based ethnic group. Using models at these scales that take people as active agents will allow the greatest benefit from the newly enriched research landscape.

Cite this Record

Rethinking Ceramics as Evidence of Regional Interaction. Rosemary Joyce. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403942)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;