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The Ceramics FIVE of Rivas Introduction One of the principal objectives of this report is the establishment of a ceramic sequence for southwest Nicaragua, and the description of the pottery types and varieties which serve as the basis for this sequence. A second objective, also of special importance, isthe interpretation of the Rivas sequence in relation to the archaeology of other regions of Central America and beyond. Ceramics, as iswidelyacknowledged in archaeological circles, are particularly useful in the formulation of relative time-space sequences . Not only is pottery a durable and lasting cultural product but it is found in large quantities, making it adequate for statistical sampling. Furthermore, as MacNeishet al. (1970:7) have pointed out, pottery is diverse: Pottery . . .has a large number of variablefeaturesthat reflect conceptsin the mindsof the makers;for example,kindsof rocks or mineralsused to temper the clay, ways of kneading the clay, methods of smoothing, and finishing the surfaces, techniques of decoration, decorative motifs, the forms and appendages given the vessels, and so on. These variablefeatures of pottery, based on cultural compulsives, are particularly susceptible to changes in both time and space. Through a study of the ceramics, and their subdivision into a series of categories, we were effectively able to isolate groups of man-made artifacts which, when removed from stratigraphic contexts, serve as time indicators. Chapter Fivedeals with the ceramic remains from the Rivas region and examines how these are chronologically ordered and what constitutes each of these ceramic units. The Rivas Ceramic Classification The 1959-1961 excavations in Rivas produced over 80,000 sherds, 63,999 of which were from stratified deposits as tabulated on page 78. The remainder of the ceramics were picked up in surface 77 78 Archaeology of the Rivas Region,Nicaragua J-RI-3:Puerto San Jorge, Pit 3 3,041 (sherd totals) J-RI-3:Puerto San Jorge, Pit 4 4,519 J-RI-3:Puerto San Jorge, Pit 5 3,500 J-RI-4:Santa Isabel "A," Pit 1 3,440 J-RI-5:Santa Isabel "B," Pit 4 11,571 J-RI-5:Santa Isabel "B," Pit 5 8,453 J-RI-7:Cruz (Ometepe Is.), Pit 1 13,595 J-RI-7:Cruz (Ometepe Is.), Pit 2 15,880 63,999 (grand total) reconnaissance or from shallow and/or mixed deposits which were dug. After typological analysis the clearly stratified materials were seriated and found to produce a lengthy, overlapping ceramic sequence which stretches from the Zoned Bichrome Period (circa 500350 B.C.) until Historic (post-A.D. 1520) times (Fig. 22). The study of such an unusually large quantity of material remains took more than two years. This includes the analysiswhichwas begun by Willey and Norweb in Nicaragua in 1959 and continued in 1961-62 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.From the preliminary examination Norweb published his paper "Ceramic Stratigraphy in Southwest Nicaragua" (1964). However, approximately 90 per cent of the Rivas pottery and other artifactswere left unstudied until the author began intensive re-analysis in August 1973. One of the first steps, after laying out the remains of several stratipits, level by level, was the determination of an appropriate classification system by which the materials might be ordered, organized , and fully described. AsSmith etal. (1960:331) noted: ".. .in order to employ pottery effectively as a dating device, in crosscultural comparison, and as an element of synthesis and interpretation , it must be described consistently by using defined units of analysis." The relativelyintermediate spatial position of the Republic of Nicaragua, lying as it does between the two nuclear zones of the New World, and the desire, as was noted earlier, to relate the Rivas artifactual and culture historical sequence to one of the more firmly established (archaeologically speaking) regions, preconditioned certain methodological schemes for the analysis of the pottery. Since Lothrop (1926) had noted, in his earlier classicceramic study (based upon the presence of a varietyof stylistic elements), that at least some part of the Nicaraguan sequence wasclearly related to Mesoamerica, we were inclined toward the utilization of a classificatory schema which might be co-ordinated and integrated with the sequences already well established to the north. There are two different methodologies commonly employed by archaeologists in Mesoamerica. One of these, called Modal Analysis and first elaborated upon by Rouse (1939, 1960) has been employed in the Maya region of Mesoamerica on several occasions (Thompson 1939; Smith 1955). This analytic approach selects individual ceramic traits, called "modes," to serve as the most basic unit of classification...


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