2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 29-13
Presentation Time: 12:00 PM

PETROGRAPHY OF MAYA POTTERY SHERDS FROM AMBERGRIS CAYE, BELIZE


HAUSSNER, Elizabeth, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0037, FARTHING, Dori J., Department of Geological Sciences, SUNY-Geneseo, 1 College Circle, Geneseo, NY 14454 and AIMERS, James, Department of Anthropology, SUNY-Geneseo, Geneseo, NY 14454, haussnea@mail.uc.edu

Ceramic petrography is a useful tool in the investigation of composition and structures in archaeological pottery revealing information unknown at the macroscopic level. In this study, 16 pottery sherds were selected for investigation from SUNY Geneseo’s collection of pottery from Ambergris Caye, Belize, using descriptive criteria based on the work of Whitbread (1995). The sherds were selected to be a representative sampling of Coconut Walk Plain (CWP), a pottery type prominent at Late Terminal Classic Maya archaeological sites on Ambergris Caye, as well as similar pottery types excavated from the sites. All sherds contained thinly elongated and aligned voids within the clay matrix as well as concentration/depletion features which take the form of both dark brown amorphous masses, and micrite textural inclusions. Of the 16 samples, 15 were discovered to contain quartz sand inclusions, a material not found locally on Ambergris Caye, a carbonate platform. Based on patterns of previous cultural behaviors, archaeologists who excavated the sherds believed that this unceremonial, utilitarian type of pottery would have been crafted in the same place it was used, however, the presence of quartz sand in 15 sherds indicates that these pottery samples must have been made somewhere with a supply of siliciclastic sediments and later transported to the sites on Ambergris Caye.