8. Artifacts of Mud, Plaster, and Unfired Clay
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For the most part, the Tikal sample consisted of small fragments of enigmatic function and use. Hard, white, burned lime plaster was used during the Early Late Preclassic period in the earliest-identified public architecture in Gp. 5D-2. The technique of covering artifacts of pottery or perishable materials with a thin layer of stucco, or more properly, gesso, is at least as early as the Late Late Preclassic. Objects of lime plaster or gesso-coated artifacts may no longer have been made after the end of the Late Classic period . Descriptions Small Plaster Spheres Figure B: 150c, d, Table 8.1-8.5 Total: 21, 17 complete (Table 8.1). These are small spheres of modeled plaster. Twenty, painted light red, were recovered from the construction fill of range structure 7F-32 of Intermediate Structure Group 7F-1 in Zone 04. They bore marks of once having been attached to something else, which suggests use as architectural ornaments (Fig. B: 150c). They were found with Early Classic and Early Late Classic period sherds. A similar, unpainted object (Fig. B: 150d) with a central depression was found in the construction fill of Str. 5D-33-1st of Civic-Ceremonial Group 5D-2 with Preclassic and Classic period sherds. Plaster Smoothing Tools Figure B: 150a, Table 8.1-8.5 Total: two complete objects, each with one smooth, transversely striated surface, may have been smoothing tools. One is elongate and 18 cm long (Fig. B: 150a), the other is round in plan with a greatest diameter of 10.2 cm. Neither were weighed. Both were made of hard, white material that is lighter in weight than 8 Artifacts of Mud, Plaster, and Unfired Clay General Considerations Summary Number Type/Object Figure Page 21 Small plaster spheres B: 150c, d 86 2 Plaster smoothing tools B: 150a 86 94* Plaster and gesso fragments B: 150b, 151c 87 5 Mud jar seals B: 150h 87 * incomplete count Maskettes, a crude figurine, modeled fragments, and deity heads of unfired clay are reported in TR. 27A. ARTIFACTS OF MUD, PLASTER, AND UNFIRED CLAY 87 dolomite and is probably plaster. Both were found in Gp. 5D-2. One is of Late Late Preclassic date, the other is Early Classic or earlier. They are included in the counts for miscellaneous plaster artifacts in Appenidix G. Plaster and Gesso Fragments Figure B: 150b, 151c, Table 8.1-8.5 Total: approximately 94, in addition to dozens of fragments that were not processed by the field laboratory. Some of these recorded pieces were fragments of modeled architectural façades from construction fill, which are as early as the Early Late Preclassic period in Gp. 5D-2. A few had been painted red and reddish orange. Many unrecorded architectural façade fragments from Gp. 5D-2 are illustrated throughout TR. 14. A couple of plaster fragments were of coatings applied to the exteriors of pottery vessels (Fig. B: 150b). One white lump was grooved on one face (Fig. B: 151c). Several others were found in special deposits of the Early Classic period. One was the backing of a neatly shaped sherd oblong decorated with a glyph-like design in black paint from Structure Ca. 43 (Fig. A: 218ee). A fragment of gray plaster with a recurved surface that perhaps once coated an object of perishable material was found in an Early Classic monument cache. An Early Late Classic problematical burial included a crude, slender cylinder modeled of hard white plaster, 8.2 cm long, which was missing both ends. In addition, special deposits also included fragments of thin plaster, more properly referred to as gesso, which had been applied to vessels of ground stone (Fig. A: 139), wood or gourd (Fig. A: 224-228), or pottery (e.g., TR. 25A: Fig. 15-19), and to artifacts of shell and now-perished materials, perhaps even codices. The surface of the white gesso was usually painted, frequently in dark pink or bluish green with fine black details. Mud Jar Seals Figure B: 150h, Table 8.1-8.5 Total: five, complete. A unique find in a Late Late Preclassic chamber burial was a set of five small pottery jars (TR. 25A: Fig. 11a1-5), each sealed with a plug made of a mix of mud, clay, flecks of charcoal, and small stones (Fig. B: 150h). Two of these had been built around a large stone core, and two others had traces of red paint on their upper surfaces. The jars themselves were...


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