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Foreword Ever since I have been associated with American archaeology—going on fifty years now—archaeologists have been talkingabout the crucial geographical (and cultural) position of Lower Central America between Mesoamerica (the Mexican-Mayacountry) and South America: here wasthe area where wewould "link up" the civilizational centres of Mexico-Guatemala and Peru, where wewould be able to layour hands on the nature of the interaction that had gone on up and down the cordillera of tropical America. Back in the 1930s very little wasknown about Mesoamerica and Peru although there was some sequence information ; absolutely nothing was available about Lower Central America. The reference to "Lower" Central America includes the land bridge that extends from somewhere in central Honduras and Salvador down to where Panamajoins onto Colombia.Some archaeology had been done here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries , but there had been little or no stratigraphic orchronologic work. This also applied to Colombia and Ecuador. Indeed, this whole "Intermediate Area," from Honduras down through Ecuador, was a patchwork of many small regional archaeological cultures with large gaps between them, little in the wayof demonstrable relationships or connections between cultures, and, on the theoretical level, rather sweeping speculations and guesses about cultural diffusions and ethnic-linguistic identifications of archaeological cultures. There has been progress sincethe 1930s. Muchof this has been in Mexico-Guatemala and Peru where the already existing culture sequences have been lengthened, refined, and corrected. There have been notable gains in Ecuador and Colombia, and some in Lower Central America. In spite of these gains, I think it fair to say that the space-time archaeological structure for these "Intermediate" regions, and especiallyfor Lower Central America,isstill inadequate to serveas a data base for research into complex problems of insitu developmental and diffusionary processes. We do not have the kind of chronologicalcontrol in Lower Central America that enables Mesoamericaniststo plot out the long-distance expansionism of Teotihuacan civilization XXlll Archaeology of the Rivas Region, Nicaragua from Central Mexicoto Kaminaljuyu and Tikal in the Maya territory, nor Peruvianiststo examine the acculturativechange of their coastal styles in response to stimuli and direction from highland Huari. A reading of Wolfgang Haberland's conscientious and highly knowledgeable chapter on Lower Central America in a recent book on Chronologies in New World Archaeology (Taylor and Meighan 1978) will make this abundantly clear. There has been some good work, and it continues; but there is still not enough of it. Paul F. Healy's present book is a substantial example of what is needed aswebuild up and put together a chronological framework for Lower Central America. He has studied and reported upon a series of stratigraphic collections from archaeological sites in the Nicaraguan Department of Rivas. This study, along with those that were made a few years ago by M. D. Coe and C. F. Baudez, will provide a solid structure for a cultural region within Lower Central America, one we call "Pacific Nicaragua-Costa Rica." Together, these researches elucidate and givechronological depth to S. K. Lothrop's greattwo-volume monograph of over fifty years ago on the Pottery of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. When similar studies are done in other Costa Rican, Nicaraguan regions, as wellas farther afield, we will be in a position to "tie in" Lower Central America with Mesoamerica and with South American areas. Admittedly, this "tying in" is a limited goal. We are talking about space-time systematics—largelyas carried by ceramics—and this is only a smallpart of the archaeological potential. Asthe one who set the policies for, and helped carry out, the fieldworkon which Healy'sgood monograph is based, I must accept primary responsibility for this initial "narrowing" of research interests. I wastrying to "straighten out chronology first" before moving on to other things. With the hindsight advantage of twentyyears, since I launched the Nicaraguan fieldwork, I don't think I'd go about it quite that way now. We obtained, for instance, relatively little on site ecology or larger settlement patterns. Although Norweb and I struggled to understand the form and functions of our Nicaraguan mounds, we were handicapped not only by the physical nature of these structures themselves—which were of distressingly homogeneous composition—but by our limited-area pit excavations . On doing it again, I would not sacrifice quite so much for rapid chronological comprehension. Such comprehension is always enriched by fuller contextual recovery. None of this, however, detracts from the importance of Healy's study. Given its objectives of description, typology...


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