Integrated compositional analysis of lowland Maya Middle Preclassic pottery at Holtun, Guatemala


The archaeological site of Holtun is an intermediate sized Maya civic-ceremonial center with documented occupation from the Middle Preclassic through Terminal Classic periods (800 BC – AD 900) featuring well-preserved cultural deposits in multiple contexts. Previously, NAA was conducted on an assemblage from the Middle Preclassic ceramics in which four discrete compositional groups were identified. One such group in particular was composed almost exclusively of Mars Orange Paste Ware, a product thought to be from Belize, while the other groups are assumed to be of local production. As a complement to the previous study, samples from each compositional group, representing both local and imported assemblages, were analyzed using ceramic thin section petrography. Resulting petrographic fabrics were then compared to locally sourced geological materials. This paper presents the interpretation of the combined petrographic and chemical composition studies in an attempt to better characterize local products and to further our understanding of the source and means of transportation of Mars Orange Paste Ware found in Middle Preclassic ceramics at Holtun. Finally, this study provides new insight into the production technologies of lowland Maya Middle Preclassic pottery, with a special emphasis on the use of volcanic ash temper.

Cite this Record

Integrated compositional analysis of lowland Maya Middle Preclassic pottery at Holtun, Guatemala. Michael Callaghan, Daniel Pierce, William Gilstrap. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430138)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16867