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Early Formative Pottery from the Tuxtla Mountains and Implications for Gulf Olmec Origins

  • Philip J. Arnold (a1)
Abstract

This paper explores patterning in ceramic data from an Early Formative component at the site of La Joya, located in southern Veracruz, Mexico. The discussion uses ceramic paste characteristics, in addition to vessel form and decoration data, to suggest that this Early Formative pottery assemblage undergoes an in situ transformation between the “pre-Olmec” Tulipan phase and the “Olmec” Coyame phase. This conclusion is then used to revisit the hypothesis of a Chicharras phase (ca. 1250 B.C.) immigration of Pacific coastal groups into the southern Gulf lowlands (e.g., Clark 1990, 1997; Clark and Blake 1989; Coe and Diehl 1980). A consideration of ceramics from several Isthmian lowland contexts does not support this scenario. The discussion suggests that an over-reliance on the surface characteristics of ceramics at San Lorenzo may have encouraged an erroneous Gulf Olmec origin story.

Resumen

En este artículo se presentan datos cerámicos que pertenecen a la ocupación Formativa Temprana del sitio de La Joya, ubicado en el sur de Veracruz, México. Esta discusión enfatiza las características de la pasta de los tiestos, así como los atributos de forma y decoración, como instrumentos útiles para investigar los cambios en el conjunto cerámico durante la transición entre la fase Tulipan (“pre-olmeca”) y la fase Coyame (“olmeca”). Este análisis indica que los cambios no fueron abruptos y sugiere que la transformación cerámica representa un proceso in situ. En vista de esta conclusión, se reconsidera el hipótesis de una inmigración a la Costa del Golfo durante el comienzo de la fase Chicharras (ca. 1250 a.C.), propuesto originalmente por Coe y Diehl (1980) y también fomentado por Clark (1990 1997; Clark y Blake 1989). Los patrones cerámicos encontrados en La Joya y otros sitios del llano costero no soportan este modelo de inmigración. La discusión indica que el énfasis en las características de la superficie de la cerámica no sirve bien a los esfuerzos arqueológicos en la Costa del Golfo, principalmente por el mal estado de preservación en que se encuentra la mayoría del material cerámico.

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References
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Latin American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 1045-6635
  • EISSN: 2325-5080
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