|Title||Rethinking thinking: An ecologically based consideration of contextual diversity in late classic ceramic assemblages from the Upper Belize River Area, Belize|
Variability in the production, distribution, consumption, and deposition of pottery is commonly used to identify social, and politico-economic relationships in and between prehistoric populations. Analysis of pottery recovered through archaeological investigations in the Maya Lowlands of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala typically define these relationships through an identification of spatially or temporally based homogeneities and heterogeneities in ceramic collections. This study uses already established ceramic collections in the Upper Belize River Area of Belize to illustrate the necessity for an objective consideration of ecological and contextual factors in ceramic studies within the Maya Lowlands. The influence that environmental variability may have upon the production, consumption, and deposition of prehistoric pottery is often left unconsidered in current pottery analysis methodology. The effect that ecological factors, such as resource variability, may have on the composition of a ceramic assemblage must be realized in any effort to identify levels of homogeneity and heterogeneity within and between individual ceramic assemblages. Variability in depositional contexts for ceramic assemblage constituents must also be identified and taken into account when efforts are made to determine social or politico-economic relationships from pottery. While landscape diversity may certainly be considered a form of contextual variability, other contextual differences must also be contemplated when analyzing a ceramic assemblage and inferring social or politico-economic relationships. Variability in depositional context such as elite versus non-elite, or architecturally-based versus non-architecturally based contexts must be realized and examined in any investigation of social or politico-economic relationships via a ceramic assemblage. This study will build upon past ceramic research within the Upper Belize River Area and elsewhere to construct and illustrate the use of a pottery analysis methodology that is designed to consider the influence of ecological and contextual variability upon the production, consumption, and deposition of pottery. The methodology outlined in this study is firmly rooted in the theoretical traditions of Ceramic Ecology which has been successfully applied to ceramic collections elsewhere to identify the affect of diversity in the landscape and the ecological relationship upon the production, consumption, and deposition of pottery.
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