Pre-Columbian Pottery Production in Greater Nicoya: A Cross-Regional Analysis

Author(s): Lorelei Platz; Carrie Dennett

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Cross-Cultural Petrographic Studies of Ceramic Traditions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Spanning northwest Costa Rica and the Isthmus of Rivas in Pacific Nicaragua, the Greater Nicoya archaeological region has been historically interpreted as a cohesive language and culture area (‘primordially’ Chibchan but shifting to Mesoamerican post-AD 800). Since the 1980s, however, researchers have begun to increasingly challenge this long-presumed ‘cultural cohesion.’ Ongoing analytical reconstruction and refinement of pre-Columbian ceramic economy in Greater Nicoya continues to validate this challenge, suggesting instead that Pacific Nicaraguan potters participated in a sphere of cultural practices and traditions distinct from potting communities in neighbouring Costa Rica. Through the lens of ceramic petrography, we seek to demonstrate the different sociocultural attitudes and normative strategies related to resource procurement, paste preparation techniques, technological innovation, and the transmission of technology and tradition across time and space. Two temporally distinct case studies are reviewed that highlight cross-regional differences in Greater Nicoya including the import, manufacture, distribution and consumption of Usulután-style negative resist wares from approximately AD 1 to 500 and later white-slipped ‘Nicoya Polychrome’ styles from roughly AD 800-1300. These case studies show the power of ceramic petrography to refine complementary analytical techniques (INAA), articulate pre-Columbian potting practices, and inform archaeologists on socioculturally charged aspects of the broader ceramic economy.

Cite this Record

Pre-Columbian Pottery Production in Greater Nicoya: A Cross-Regional Analysis. Lorelei Platz, Carrie Dennett. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451522)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -92.153; min lat: -4.303 ; max long: -50.977; max lat: 18.313 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22996