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A Summary ELEVEN Archaeological investigations by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology , Harvard University, were conducted, in 1959-1961, insouthwest Nicaragua. The reconnaissance and fieldworkwasundertaken by Dr. Gordon R. Willey with the assistance of Mr. Albert H. Norweb; the two located and 3urveyed some 20 sites in Pacific Nicaragua. Seven of these sites (labelled J-RI-1 through J-RI-7 in this report) were located in the Department of Rivas, near the southern or Costa Rican frontier of Nicaragua. Eight different stratified excavations at four of these sites on the Isthmus of Rivas and Ometepe Island, in the adjacent Lake Nicaragua, produced 63,999 Pre-Columbian sherds, as well as numerous stone, shell, and bone artifacts. In 1973 the author began full analysisof the Rivas materials; the results of this undertaking are presented in detail in this dissertation. The mountainous ceramic remains were sorted, studied, and classified into some 41 different types according to the tenets of the Type-Variety system of classification employed widely in southern Mesoamerica. Though no single excavation in Rivas proved to contain the entire ceramic sequence for the region, the combined contents of the eight stratified pits have been seriated. This has resulted in the presentation of a cohesive, stratigraphically determined, 2,000-year ceramic sequence which closely parallels the sequences already established in neighbouring northwest (Guanacaste) Costa Rica. As such, the Rivas region is included, with the archaeological regions of the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, into the "Greater Nicoya Archaeological Subarea" of Central America. The Rivas sequence commences with the Zoned Bichrome Period (500/350 B.C.-A.D.300/400), which is marked by the first appearance of pottery decorated, as the temporal unit name implies,by bichrome decoration, either alternated painted and unpainted zones, or areas marked off from one another byridges and incisedor engraved lines. Colours are restricted to only red and black. The ceramics are well made and though clearlyof a local style, can nevertheless be seen to fall within a broader Pan-American bichrome tradition of thistime. General similaritiescan be seen with bichrome pottery from Mexico to Peru and dated to the Late Formativehorizon. Though some closer 343 344 Archaeology of the Rivas Region, Nicaragua similarities can be seen between Nicoya subarea Zoned Bichrome ceramics and the so-called Scarified Wares of Lower Central America, the closest Rivas connections, and most pronounced cultural influences, appear to have been from Mesoamerica and the north. Several Rivas varieties have quite specific analogues in both Honduras and Guatemala on the Late Preclassic time level. This impression is further supported by the presence of Late Preclassic Usulutan trade sherds from Salvador in Rivas Zoned Bichrome contexts and the Zoned Bichrome utilization of a multiple brush technique . These further support our inclination toward a Mesoamerican sphere of contact, and the radiocarbon dates for the period. Lifestyle of these early Nicaraguans can only be sketchily outlined at present. In Rivas,where a metate fragment has been found in a Zoned Bichrome context, it is not unlikely that maize farming was practised, probably supplemented by fishingand hunting activities as well. Settlements appear to have been small and located near the shores of Lake Nicaragua or on Ometepe Island. Two Zoned Bichrome period phases were identified:Aviles,the earliest, and San Jorge. The succeeding Early Polychrome Period (A.D. 300/400-800) is marked by the development of a new group of ceramics in Rivas. The earlier part of the period, called the San Roque phase, preserves a sense of continuity with the preceding Zoned Bichrome Period through the continued production of various simple bichromes, both white-on-red and black-on-red varieties. However, a number of new vessel forms commence, and the addition of white linear designs over a black-on-red bichrome results in the first Rivas trichrome painting, setting the stage for finely made, true polychromes characteristic of the period. Bythe end of the period, the Palos Negros phase, several polychrome types emerged with black outlined, abstract, red painted designs predominant, on an orange, and later cream to white, background . Cross-cultural ties are less clear for the Early Polychrome Period. Baudez and Coe (1962:369) have suggested that these prominent black-on-red bichromes are related to Black Line styles of Panama. The latter are dated by Ladd (1964:222) to the second half of the first millennium A.D. Paulsen (1971) has suggested connections with Ecuador for this period. However, there is also a general similaritybetween the first Rivas polychromes...


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