The Function of Ceramic Analysis in the Maya Lowlands

Author(s): Keith Eppich

Year: 2018


Why study ceramics at all? What is the point of analyzing hundreds and thousands of small, broken pieces of pottery? This paper explores these, and other questions, within the context of Classic Maya civilization. Too often, it seems, ceramic analysis is used as a loose chronological framework, used solely to construct broad frameworks of relative dating. These frameworks are then applied to archaeological assemblages, placing them within chronologically bounded "ceramic complexes" and geographically bounded "ceramic spheres." Then most ceramic analyses end. This paper argues that this is the point where real ceramic analysis should begin. Ceramic complexes should be broken down into distinct centuries and even individual decades, if possible. Ceramic analysis can be used to create absolute chronologies. Ceramic spheres can be subdivided, revealing the exchange of material culture between individual cities, communities, and households. Thus, ceramic analysis can shed significant light on cultural, social, economic, and political ties on such material exchanges. Such analysis can de shown by examining the recent work at El Perú-Waka’, where internal social, political, and economic ties are shown, within the context of an absolute chronology.

Cite this Record

The Function of Ceramic Analysis in the Maya Lowlands. Keith Eppich. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444554)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20782