Valuable source of information about past societies. For Maya, other sources available, but still provide helpful cultural information, especially ﬁgures andpainted vases.
Function Vessel size and shape Residue analysis Storage, cooking, mixing, eating, ceremonial use.
Chocolate Pot Rio Azul
Dating with ceramicsStylistic classiﬁcation used to establish chronology by association. Pottery changes in shape, size, temper, ﬁring methods, and decoration in consistent patterns.
Older archaeologypractice: identiﬁed culture by ceramic styles Esperanza (Kaminaljuyu) Tzakol (Uaxactun) Not done today, as other data provide better information about social identity and cultural practices.
1Maya use of Ceramics
Pottery ﬁrst developed in stable farming societies. First pottery mimicked containers used before: woven baskets and gourds. Early vessels well-ﬁred and durable. Potterybreaks into pieces - - but potsherds last forever. Some slipped and polished, others not.
Methods of Production
4 methods used by Maya: Unspecialized household production – always done. Specialized household production (Late Preclassic and Classic) Some households produced pottery for exchange, as FT job. Industrial production (Postclassic) Specialized industries for potteryproduction - - Plumbate pottery, in particular.
Development of Pottery
Crude hand-modeled ﬁgurines appear as early as Preclassic - - function unknown. Polychrome pottery – black, white, red, yellow –developed in Preclassic. By Late Preclassic, tripods and tetrapods made, along with incense burners. Classic period: elaborate pottery in many shapes, forms, and functions.
Tripod vessel CalakmulDetail of cover of a Tetrapod vessel Calakmul Bowls in Priest’s burial, Tikal
Lidded Bowl, Jaguar Head Tikal
Crocodile ﬁgure Bird Vessels
Jaina Island pottery...