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The Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Community

The Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Community

Dean E. Arnold
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Community
    Book Description:

    InThe Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Community, Dean E. Arnold continues his unique approach to ceramic ethnoarchaeology, tracing the history of potters in Ticul, Yucatán, and their production space over a period of more than four decades. This follow-up to his 2008 workSocial Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distributionuses narrative to trace the changes in production personnel and their spatial organization through the changes in production organization in Ticul.

    Although several kinds of production units developed, households were the most persistent units of production in spite of massive social change and the reorientation of pottery production to the tourist market. Entrepreneurial workshops, government-sponsored workshops, and workshops attached to tourist hotels developed more recently but were short-lived, whereas pottery-making households extended deep into the nineteenth century. Through this continuity and change, intermittent crafting, multi-crafting, and potters' increased management of economic risk also factored into the development of the production organization in Ticul.

    Illustrated with more than 100 images of production units,The Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Communityis an important contribution to the understanding of ceramic production. Scholars with interests in craft specialization, craft production, and demography, as well as specialists in Mesoamerican archaeology, anthropology, history, and economy, will find this volume especially useful.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-314-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xxiii-xxxiv)
  6. 1 Introduction: Craft Specialization and Social Complexity
    (pp. 1-34)

    During the last few decades, research in ethnoarchaeology has contributed much to the study of craft production and its relationship to the evolution of socioeconomic complexity.¹ One of the gaps in this knowledge, as Miriam Stark² argued, is information about the artisans who produce craft products. Although there are exceptions to this generalization,³ a mass of information exists concerning the ecology, organization, and technical analyses of crafts,⁴ but relatively little data exists about the people who make the pots, weave the cloth, or forge the metal.

    This work aims to help fill this gap. It examines the history of production...

  7. 2 Methodology: How Were the Data Collected?
    (pp. 35-56)

    The field research for this book took place during twelve visits to Yucatán, Mexico, over a period of more than four decades. I first went to Yucatán in 1965, when I spent six months studying potters in the city of Ticul. Between 1965 and 1970 I returned five times and then went back again in 1984, 1988, 1994, 1997, 2002, and 2008.¹ The scope of this study thus spans forty-four years and provides a relatively unique ethnoarchaeological perspective that details continuity and change in the families of Ticul potters and their production units.

    A variety of paradigms guided this research,...

  8. 3 Traditional Households I: The Tzum Family
    (pp. 57-120)

    The Tzum family included the largest number of makers of noncooking pottery between 1965 and 1997, and this chapter traces its history from the early nineteenth century to 2008. More than any other, the history of the Tzum family illustrates how the forces of selection for and against potters affected the ongoing practice of the craft. These forces included the deselection of individuals who were potters from the population because disease, slave labor (debt peonage), warfare, and government policies affected the composition of their families and influenced the transmission of the craft through time.

    The Tzum family can be traced...

  9. 4 Traditional Households II: Seven Families
    (pp. 121-176)

    Besides the production units of the Tzum family, other traditional potters that historically made only noncooking pottery are distributed across seven other families that include the Ucan/Yeh family, the Pech Family, the descendants of Timoteo Chan, the descendants of Tiburcio Chan, the Keh family, the descendants of José María Huicab, and the descendants of José Gernacio Huicab. Pottery making in all of these families has been passed down for at least three generations.

    Do the patterns identified in the previous chapter also occur among other families of potters in Ticul? Although other families do not have an oral history as...

  10. 5 Production Units Derived from Traditional Households Cooking Pottery
    (pp. 177-196)

    Historically, all pottery made in Ticul did not use the same technology. Rather, pottery made for cooking used a different technology than that used for noncooking pottery,¹ and it was specialized within specific families. This familial specialization was also reflected in the potters’ language. In the 1960s potters referred to someone who made cooking pots as a “cooking pot maker” (hmen kum), while someone who made noncooking pottery was called a “water jar maker” (hmen kat). Both kinds of potters used the same clay and fabrication technique, but the remainder of the technology was different. Makers of cooking pottery used...

  11. 6 Entrepreneurial Production
    (pp. 197-218)

    Previous chapters dealt with the household-based organization of potters who possessed traditional indigenous knowledge of ceramic production. That knowledge was usually (but not always) transmitted from one person to another in a way that paralleled the processes that reproduced the household: generally, but not exclusively, through members acquired through procreation, patrilineal land inheritance, and, to a much lesser extent, patrilocal residence. Although such processes appear to account for the transmission of the craft from generation to generation, in reality, individual agency and other variables selected for or against household members becoming potters.

    In contrast to the previous chapters, in which...

  12. 7 New Production Units: Nontraditional Potters
    (pp. 219-230)

    As the previous chapter indicated, one of the major changes in the organization of pottery production between 1965 and 2008 was the advent of production units established by potters who did not come from traditional pottery-making families. Most of these new units were created by entrepreneurs from outside of Ticul. A second kind of new unit consists of those established by individuals from Ticul who were not formerly potters and did not come from pottery-making families. Developing after the early 1970s, these units were initiated by those who learned how to make pottery in a local workshop and then began...

  13. 8 Attached Workshops
    (pp. 231-242)

    Most of the traditional production units described in chapters 3, 4 and 5 could best be called independent specialists using the criteria of Brumfiel and Earle.¹ Originally, they produced utilitarian and household ritual vessels for ordinary consumers.

    Between 1957 and 1982, some Ticul potters worked at two tourist hotels at Uxmal. They used traditional Maya ceramic technology, brought clay and temper from Ticul, used the traditional turntable to fabricate their pottery, and fired vessels in a traditional Maya kiln. One of the hotel managers taught them how to create vertical-half molds and then to use that technique to create a...

  14. 9 Why Did the Spatial Footprint of Production Increase?
    (pp. 243-276)

    Up until now, chapters have focused on histories of the families of potters, the organization of production units, and the changes in production space between 1965 and 1997. In 1965 pottery production was situated mostly in generalized, multipurpose space used for sleeping, storage, and other household activities. This multipurpose space was possible because the Maya sleep in hammocks that are tied up and hung on the wall during the day, freeing household space for making pottery, weaving hammocks, sewinghuipils,or performing other craft activities. By 1984, some generalized household space was still used for making pottery, but often this...

  15. 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 277-290)

    In the introduction to this work, I argued that the population of craftsmen was one of the critical links between the ancient craft items and inferences about ancient society. Now, after presenting the data of this study, I return to the basic question that this work addresses: what happens to the population of potters and the social and spatial organization of their production through time? The answer to this question in the present, it was argued, provides hypotheses for interpreting changing ceramic production in the past, its relationship to production space, and to the evolution of social complexity. What can...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-312)
  17. Index
    (pp. 313-323)