Compositional Analysis of Formative Period Ceramics from the Teotihuacan Valley, Mexico

Faculty Scholarship
Monday, October 1, 2012
Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College

Archaeometry 54(5): 821-834

Author(s): Bridget Alex, Deborah Nichols, and Michael Glascock

During the Classic Period, Teotihuacan was an economic centre of central Mexico, but little is known about the development of this system. This paper presents a pilot study in multi-method analysis of Formative Period (1500/1400 bc – 150 ad) ceramics from the Teotihuacan Valley. Pottery was characterized by instrumental neutron activation analysis, laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, thermal ionization mass spectrometry and petrography. It appears that most pottery was made from local raw materials that differ from later Postclassic materials. Some inter-village interaction is suggested by stylistic choices, and one settlement had a group of ceramics made from unequivocally distinct raw materials. The study demonstrates how complementary methods can be used to draw greater anthropological meaning from compositional differences.

Rockefeller Center Faculty Grant Proposal: "Early Ceramic Obsidian Production and Exchange in the Basin of Mexico"