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CULTURAL IMPERATIVES IN CLAY: EARLY OLMEC CARVED POTTERY FROM SAN LORENZO AND CANTÓN CORRALITO

  • David Cheetham (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Portable “Olmec-style” objects appeared in several regions of Mesoamerica near the end of the second millennium b.c., most frequently in the form of ceramic figurines and carved-incised pottery vessels. The origins of this early Olmec style and significance of its distribution are vigorously debated, with the role of the Gulf Coast Olmec archaeological culture and its largest center, San Lorenzo, especially controversial with respect to both issues. While recent chemical compositional analyses show that Olmec-style pots were exported from the Gulf Coast to several other regions of Mesoamerica, in each place beyond the Gulf Coast they are vastly outnumbered by locally-made versions that may or may not be faithful to Gulf Olmec stylistic canons based on vessel forms, technical style of manufacture, and design criteria. The extent of stylistic conformity between pots made in the Gulf Coast and distant regions has direct implications in terms of the geographic origin, apprenticeship, and cultural membership (innate ethnicity) of the potters who made the vessels. I consider these issues by comparing the designs and forms of excised (Calzadas Carved) pottery made at San Lorenzo and Cantón Corralito, a possible settlement enclave of Gulf Olmec peoples located in the Mazatan zone of Pacific Coastal Chiapas some 450 km from San Lorenzo.

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E-mail correspondence to: cheetham01@gmail.com
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Jeffrey Blomster , Hector Neff , and Michael D. Glascock 2005 Olmec Pottery Production and Export in Ancient Mesoamerica as Determined through Elemental Analysis. Science 307:10681072.

David Cheetham 2009 Early Olmec Figurines from Two Regions: Style as Cultural Imperative. In Mesoamerican Figurines: Small-Scale Indices of Large-Scale Social Phenomena, edited by Christina T. Halperin , Katherine A. Faust , Rhonda Taube , and Auore Giguet , pp. 149179. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

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James B. Stoltman , Joyce Marcus , Kent V. Flannery , James H. Burton , and Robert G. Moyle 2005 Petrographic Evidence Shows that Pottery Exchange between the Olmec and Their Neighbors was Two Way. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102:1121311218.

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Ancient Mesoamerica
  • ISSN: 0956-5361
  • EISSN: 1469-1787
  • URL: /core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica
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