Examination of Organic Residues and Tribochemical Wear in Low Fired Casas Grandes Pottery Vessels


Extensive ethnographic evidence of tribochemical globular pitting in brewing vessels exists throughout Africa and Mesoamerica. Current hypotheses, however, do not extend this brewing tradition into the Casas Grandes region until after Spanish Contact. Sherds of pottery vessels collected from the Casas Grandes region (AD 1200-1450) exhibit extensive pitting, which some researchers suggest is due to the fermentation of alcohol and production of hominy. To evaluate these hypotheses, we utilized experimental archaeology, microbotanical analyses, and gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses. Ten low-fired vessels made in Mata Ortiz to proximate Casas Grandes ollas were used for boiling water, making hominy, fermenting fresh corn sprouts (corn beer), and fermenting roasted agave hearts (pulque). Microbotanical analyses, GC-MS, and tribochemical wear analyses of morphology were then performed on both these vessels and the sherds collected at 76 Draw. In particular, we determined how hominy (an alkali food, inside – out process) and bacteria and yeast-induced fermentation (e.g., Zymomonas mobilis, outside – in process) differentially deflate the interior wall. This research helps us better understand the mechanisms that may have resulted in the pitted Casas Grandes ollas, therefore demonstrating if brewing was occurring in this region pre-Spanish contact.

Cite this Record

Examination of Organic Residues and Tribochemical Wear in Low Fired Casas Grandes Pottery Vessels. Heidi Noneman, Christine VanPool, Andrew Fernandez. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429982)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16935