Technologies of Power: Ritual Economy and Ceramic Production in the Terminal Preclassic Period Holmul Region, Guatemala
Callaghan, Michael George
In this dissertation I use the theoretical framework of ritual economy combined with ceramic analysis to understand the function and meaning of the introduction of orange slipped pottery to the Holmul Region during the second half of the Terminal Preclassic period (AD 150 – 250). I test the hypothesis that orange slipped pottery represents an amalgam of restricted or “prestige technologies” that were initially employed in the production of vessels used in potential elite diacritical feasting events of the Terminal Preclassic period. These vessels are here considered social valuables with various functions including the serving of symbolically charged foods during feasting events, mementos of ritual occasions, inalienable possessions that created social liens between owners and custodians, funerary furniture, and ritual cache objects. Using a specifically tailored methodology including aspects of type-variety analysis, modal analysis, diversity and standardization studies, petrography, and Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis I identify and quantify four statistically significant technologies associated with the monochrome and painted orange pottery traditions of the second half of the Terminal Preclassic period. These technologies encompass more than surface characteristics and are associated with changing patterns in paste preparation, forming, and firing processes from the Late Preclassic through early facet Early Classic periods. Some of these technologies do have roots in the red monochrome tradition of the Late Preclassic period, supporting the notion that the orange slipped traditions arose out of local innovation, at least within the Holmul Region.