6. Pottery Sherd Artifacts
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Most of the sherd artifacts found at Tikal were first chipped into shape and then the edges were ground smooth. This two-step process was taken into consideration in their classification, with ground edges designated as Variety A of a particular type and chipped edges as Variety B. Generally fewer Variety B artifacts were recorded, I suspect because of the difficulty of picking them out among unworked potsherds. However, when the lower proportion of chipped sherd artifacts was taken into account, their spatial, chronological , and contextual distributions coincided with worked sherds that had ground edges. Therefore, worked sherds with ground and chipped edges are summarized together on Tables 6.1-6.24. Potsherds were a local resource, readily available to anyone, and could be easily worked into a variety of artifacts. These characteristics suggest an expedient industry of goods produced by the consumer. The debitage from such production has not, as yet, been distinguished from unworked sherds. The array of artifacts made from sherds had utilitarian, ornamental, and ceremonial functions. In some cases they appear to be expedient copies of types usually made with greater investment of labor and of other kinds of material, 6 Pottery Sherd Artifacts General Considerations Summary Number Type Figure Page 287 Centrally perforated disks B: 131-132 76 38 Incompletely perforated sherds B: 133a-k 77 50 Eccentrically perforated sherds B: 134 77 139 Unperforated round/oval B: 133l, 135, worked sherds 136a-g, l, m, 137a-e 78 22 Unperforated oblong/elongate A: 218ee, B: 136h, k, worked sherds 137f-j 78 13 Other edge-worked sherds B: 136i, j 79 2 Figurines B: 137k, l 79 2 Mariposas B: 137n 79 11 Bars B: 138a-e 79 10 Scrapers B: 138f-h 79 66 Cordholders B: 139e-q, 14: 200f 80 28 Miscellaneous worked sherds B: 137m, 138i, j, 139a, b 80 Mosaic assemblage backings made from sherds are described and illustrated in TR. 27A. THE ARTIFACTS OF TIKAL: UTILITARIAN ARTIFACTS AND UNWORKED MATERIAL 76 such as scrapers, potlids, incense burners, stamps, cordholders, beads and pendants, figurines, and various small forms inscribed with glyphs. On the other hand, 11 worked sherds of various shapes had grooves in their ground edges (Fig. B: 132l, 134m, 136l, m, 138e), which suggest a specialized, if as yet unknown, mode of use. They occur from the Late Middle Preclassic into Late Late Classic times. According to William and Anita Haviland (1995: Fig. 2-13) the postfired incised designs on a number of worked sherds of various types apparently record entoptic phenomena (Fig. B: 132a-g, 134j,k, 137e-j). They are identical to graffiti found on the plastered walls of buildings (TR. 31) and to designs incised on some miscellaneous ground stone artifacts (Fig. B: 115e, 116g, 117a). These designs are thought to record visual events experienced by persons in an early state of trance. Most types of worked sherds occurred with greatest frequencies in Zone 03 in Small Structure Groups. Exceptions were unperforated disks, oblongs, eccentrically perforated sherds, scrapers, and cordholders, which were more common in Zone 01. Artifacts worked from sherds were rarely found in special deposits, but they were occasionally included in problematical deposits, burials, and structure caches. They were produced and used throughout the entire permanent occupation of Tikal. Descriptions Centrally Perforated Disks Figure B: 131-132, Table 6.1-6.6 Total: 287 disks, 114 of which were complete or nearly so (Table 6.1). As with all other types of worked sherds, this is a minimal figure because many sherd artifacts were not recognized among unworked sherds processed in the field laboratory (T. Patrick Culbert, personal communication 1964). Centrally perforated disks were the most numerous type of worked sherd artifact found at Tikal. Most examples had a ground perimeter. There were 215 of these, 95 of which were complete. There were 27 disks with a chipped perimeter, 17 of which were complete. The central perforation in both varieties was made from one (Fig. B: 132c, f) or both faces (Fig. B: 132a, e, g, j, l). Forty-three disks could not be classified due to their fragmented condition or a lack of information on edge treatment. Two unexamined disks are tabulated as uncertain members of the type. Although centrally perforated sherd disks have a nearly global distribution in ancient pottery-using cultures , there is much uncertainty about their mode of use. Some researchers consider them spindle whorls because of the morphological similarity to known, disk-shaped whorls of wood and pottery...