A Contextual and Iconographic Analysis of Precolumbian Stamps from the Lower Rio Verde Valley

Author(s): Elizabeth Peabody; Sarah Barber

Year: 2017


Known as estampias, pintaderas, or sellos, ceramic stamps are known from Precolumbian sites throughout Mexico although very little research has been done on this group of artifacts. Previously published examples depict a wide range of iconographic themes, including geometric, floral, and faunal designs. This paper presents an analysis of 19 ceramic stamps recovered from excavations in the lower Río Verde valley. This group of artifacts spans nearly the entire Precolumbian period, from the Late Formative through Late Postclassic periods (circa 300 B.C.- A.D. 1522). Given the rarity of these objects, they will be contextualized in reference to examples from various museum collections throughout the world. Focusing on the coastal Oaxaca examples, this paper will determine the frequency of ceramic stamps, patterns in their use, and attempt to determine their function. In contrast with explanations derived from other regions, there is no evidence that stamps were used to decorate pottery in the lower Verde. Instead, we propose that the importance of stamps lay in their capacity to temporarily transform the objects on which they were used. While further data are needed, we suggest that stamps were used for paper marking or temporary body modification.

Cite this Record

A Contextual and Iconographic Analysis of Precolumbian Stamps from the Lower Rio Verde Valley. Elizabeth Peabody, Sarah Barber. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431062)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16068