Inscription, Replication, and Production of Olmec Imagery and Regional Identities

Author(s): Jeffrey Blomster

Year: 2017


The Early Formative period exhibits dramatic transformations in imagery and identity throughout Mesoamerica. Focusing on a time period before techniques for mold made and mass produced objects had been achieved, this paper explores replications that involved copies, iterations, and emulations of designs and imagery. At select sites in Mesoamerica, objects have been documented with Olmec-style imagery, some of which have been linked to the Gulf Coast Olmec society; in most cases, the Olmec imagery forms a minor component within a larger panorama of regional design systems. Excavation data from Etlatongo, in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico, contribute to understanding the cultural impact of the replication of imagery by looking at four classes of ceramic data: vessels, figurines, masks, and cylinder seals. Focusing on contrasts between imported originals and locally-made replicas revealed through chemical compositional data, this paper explores the various techniques deployed to craft imagery and the media through which different designs were inscribed on objects and bodies, exploring the salient impacts on social identities. While some objects could have been employed for the mass replication of imagery, in other cases, imagery and identity were constructed and negotiated through more variable and contested means and techniques.

Cite this Record

Inscription, Replication, and Production of Olmec Imagery and Regional Identities. Jeffrey Blomster. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430020)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16492