The Ceramic Economy of Pre-Columbian Pacific Nicaragua (AD 1–1250)
AdvisorMcCafferty, Geoffrey G.
AuthorDennett, Carrie Lynd
Committee MemberJoyce, Rosemary A.
Oetelaar, Gerald A.
Kooyman, Brian P.
instrumental neutron activation analysis
communities of practice
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractRecent ceramic compositional analyses based on a combination of instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and petrography demonstrate that our historic understanding of pre-Columbian ceramic production and distribution in Pacific Nicaragua—the northern sector of the Greater Nicoya archaeological region—has been somewhat less than accurate. Importantly, it also challenges ethnohistoric accounts, which have traditionally served as our basic framework of inquiry, and which suggest that changes in the social fabric and material culture across time are the result of in-migration and colonization by groups from Mesoamerica. The results of the current compositional analyses instead indicate continuity and internal change among local potting groups for more than 1,000 years, and coloured by longstanding social and economic connections with non-Mesoamerican groups in west-central Honduras, particularly the Comayagua Valley and Lake Yojoa regions. Importantly, this research also represents the first archaeological attempt to reconstruct the local volcanic environment and then articulate that with the compositional results. A total of 14 petrofabric groupings are proposed herein, with a particular focus on identification of pottery-producing centres in the Granada-Mombacho and Rivas-Ometepe areas of Pacific Nicaragua. Drawing on ceramic economy theory to structure and interpret the compositional results, this dissertation reconstructs the pre-Columbian ceramic economy in its ecological context (ca. AD 1–1250), highlighting patterns of ceramic production, consumption, and distribution at multiple scales of analysis. This framework is then further contextualized socially and interpreted utilizing a revised version of communities of practice theory designed to address the multiple scales inherent in the proposed reconstruction, including communities, constellations, and networks of practices. Based on the information presented in the results and interpretations, I address several key challenges that archaeologists working the region currently face. In final discussion I propose (1) a reconfiguration of the Greater Nicoya archaeological region, (2) an alternative explanation for difficulty in ‘seeing’ the local Ometepe period (AD 1250–1522) in the archaeological record, and (3) propose an alternative model to explain the presence of Oto-Manguean-speaking Chorotega groups in the region prior to European contact.
CitationDennett, C. L. (2016). The Ceramic Economy of Pre-Columbian Pacific Nicaragua (AD 1–1250) (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/28025
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