Ancient pottery in the Yalahau region: A study of ceramics and chronology in northern Quintana Roo, Mexico
Amador Berdugo, Fabio Esteban
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Pottery is the principal cultural material archaeologists use to gain an insight to the cultural histories of ancient societies around the world. The presence and/or absence of pottery informs the analyst about past cultural dynamic processes. Ceramic studies in archaeology are also essential in establishing cultural sequences due to the nature of the material which reflects precise cultural changes over time (Gifford 1976, Robles 1990). The present investigation provides the results from an excavation program conducted at eight sites located throughout the Yalahau region of northern Quintana Roo, México. The Yalahau region is characterized by a unique water-rich environment, the highest levels of bio-diversity in the Yucatán peninsula and a series of north-south savannahs or wetlands that extend from the northern coast of the Yalahau Bay running south for some 40 to 50 km before reaching the Cobá region. The unique relationship between the landscape and the ancient settlers serves as the background for the present investigation. We are aware in the present of a physiographic delimited region, however, defining it as a cultural region would involve an extensive survey, surface collections, and the excavation of key sites. These goals have been met and are here presented to the reader. The site and regional chronologies were created based on a detailed type-variety analysis of the ancient pottery recovered from excavations at eight sites distributed in different zones which provide a spatial and temporal perspective of the region. Finally, an evaluation of the ceramic information obtained by two different recovery methods, surface collections and excavations, is provided as a tool for future studies that depend on surface material to make inferences about ancient populations. The significance test utilized proved to be an important tool in statistically determining the meaningful differences between data sets. A level of analysis previously untested in the region. The investigation here presented is intended to serve as a basic tool for future investigations and investigators in the Yalahau region as well as other sites and regions in the Northern Maya Lowlands.