Intra-regional strategies and interregional dynamics: A study of pottery production in prehispanic Colima, Mexico (550-1000 CE)
Salgado Ceballos, Carlos Andres
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This research evaluates the degree of political integration in Colima during the Late Classic/Epiclassic period (550-1000 CE) and the historical depth of three 16th-century regional polities through an examination of the political strategies embedded in pottery technology. Pottery samples covering three regional polities (Provincia del Colimotl, Valle de Tecomán, Provincia de Tepetitango) and corresponding to four geographical micro-regions (Colima Valley, Salado River basin, Tecomán coastal plain, western coast) were analysed. In this research, polities are conceptualised as webs of authoritative relationships, which are created and contested by political strategies. Pottery produced in the same polity should therefore be in the same network of authoritative relationships. Political strategies are uncovered by identifying the technological patterns, material and socio-technological constraints of production, sourcing-distribution patterns, organisation of production, and social contexts of the consumption of pottery. Compositional and fabric variability was assessed through the archaeometric characterisation of 215 pottery samples from 17 different sites distributed throughout the research area. The statistical analysis of the geochemical results revealed 10 compositional groups; an eleventh group was identified through petrographic analysis. Pottery and raw clay (14 samples) compositional data, together with the analysis of distribution patterns and the local geology, permitted the identification of the location (at the micro-regional level or less) of clay sources for seven of the compositional groups. The room left for technological choices/styles was determined through reconstruction of the pottery production sequence within its contextual factors. The results indicate that pottery production was not centralised, even at the micro-regional level. Potters from the four geographical micro-regions used different clay sources to produce both distinctive wares and some shared types. However, with the probable exception of the Colima Valley, at least a couple clay sources were simultaneously exploited in each micro-region. In some instances, this reflects product specialisation; in others, it indicates production of the same pottery types by competing workshops. Though the two geographical micro-regions in the Provincia del Colimotl did not escape the micro-regional pattern of the use of local resources and manufacture of distinctive wares, they do offer the only example of pottery-related, deliberate economic interdependence in this study. The pottery was produced by independent specialists who made use of distribution networks restricted to the limits of each polity. However, the red-on-cream jars made in the Salado River basin were widely distributed throughout all of the regional polities. It is argued that these jars were obtained at the Salado River basin during communal feasts that involved the consumption of pulque. The results indicate the historical depth of the known 16th-centruy regional polities. Despite providing evidence for close interregional interactions and shared ideological beliefs and social practices within the whole Colima region, pottery analysis offers no solid proof that Colima functioned as a single polity during the Late Classic/Epiclassic period.
PhD in Archaeology