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Contextual and Iconographic Analysis of Pre-Hispanic Ceramic Artifacts from the Jama River Valley, Coastal Ecuador

James Zeidler, Colorado State University, Fellow 2018–2019

My research focused on theoretical and methodological approaches to the analysis of ceramic craftsmanship and “communities of practice” in the long Jama-Coaque cultural tradition of coastal Ecuador with materials derived both from archaeological contexts and from museum collections of unprovenanced specimens in Ecuador. These include mundane cooking, storage, and food serving vessels as well as large elaborate mold-made figural sculptures depicting religious iconography and having decidedly ritual functions. This research will be incorporated into a manuscript entitled Discovering Jama-Coaque History: Pre-Hispanic Settlement Dynamics and Materiality in the Jama River Valley of Coastal Ecuador that also presents regional archaeological survey data on 230 archaeological sites and 84 earthen platform mounds spanning 3,500 years of Ecuadorian prehistory. Other activities included completing a manuscript coauthored with Pre-Columbian Studies Program Director Colin McEwan entitled “Squaring the Circle in Ancient Ecuador: Dualism, Quadripartition, and Spatial Hierarchy as Elements of Emergent Social Complexity,” which will appear in The Central America and Colombia Catalogue Project, Volume II: Towards an Archaeology of “Greater” Central America, and developing a paper presented in the symposium “Coastal Connections: Pacific Coastal Links from Mexico to Ecuador,” organized by Christopher Beekman and Colin McEwan for the 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in April 2019.