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Perspectives on the Ancient Maya of Chetumal Bay$

Debra S. Walker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062792

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062792.001.0001

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An Expedient Pottery Technology and Its Implications for Ancient Maya Trade and Interaction

An Expedient Pottery Technology and Its Implications for Ancient Maya Trade and Interaction

(p.149) 8 An Expedient Pottery Technology and Its Implications for Ancient Maya Trade and Interaction
Perspectives on the Ancient Maya of Chetumal Bay

James Aimers

Elizabeth Haussner

Dori Farthing

Satoru Murata

University Press of Florida

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers one of the crudest types of pottery ever produced by the ancient Maya, Coconut Walk Plain, a ware that has been interpreted to have been used in evaporative salt production along coastal lagoons and on Ambergris Caye in Belize. A series of similar types, including Rio Juan Unslipped, spans the Preclassic to the Postclassic periods, linking the long-lived salt trade to coastal communities such as Marco Gonzalez. The authors use recent advances in ceramic petrography to identify an imported temper in these poorly made wares that seems counterintuitive for an expedient pottery vessel. Their research suggests that coastal communities considered the entire bay area as a local resource procurement zone because canoe transport was readily available to procure distant resources.

Keywords:   Coconut Walk Plain, Rio Juan Unslipped, ceramic petrography, salt evaporation, Ambergris Caye, Marco Gonzalez

Coconut Walk Plain is a coarse, fragile, and inconsistently shaped pottery that is found in large quantities at sites on Ambergris Caye, especially at Marco Gonzalez and San Juan (Figure 1.2). The type is most commonly found in Terminal Classic contexts along coasts and rivers, but has antecedents from at least the Early Classic. In this chapter, we report on stylistic, functional, and petrographic analysis of this pottery type and the implications of these findings for interpretations of coastal trade and interaction relevant to research around Chetumal Bay and beyond.

History and Distribution

The pottery we are discussing here is, formally, one of the crudest types of pottery ever produced by the ancient Maya (Figure 8.1; Graham 1994: Fig. 5.8; Murata 2011: Fig. 4.6). Shapes are dominated by globular bowls that appear to have been very irregular, and it would be hard to take diameters from these rims. We know of no extant full vessels, and the remaining coarsely tempered sherds are weak and break easily. Even when not eroded they are barely smoothed at all. The surface color is generally consistent with the paste, which is predominantly orange but varies greatly to tan, gray, and black, sometimes on the same sherd.

Elizabeth Graham (1994:153–156) first identified Coconut Walk Unslipped in Tzakol 3/Tepeu 1 Middle Classic contexts in the Stann Creek area, where she called it Coconut Walk Unslipped Ware. Fred Valdez recognized Graham’s ware identification in the type name Coconut Walk Plain for a type found in (p.150)

An Expedient Pottery Technology and Its Implications for Ancient Maya Trade and Interaction

Figure 8.1. Coconut Walk Unslipped rim profiles.

(Illustration by Jenna Anderson.)

Late to Terminal Classic period contexts at San Juan, Ambergris Caye (Valdez et al. 1995:97–99). He did not give the type a group or ware designation but noted that the San Juan sherds were “virtually identical” to sherds from Marco Gonzalez. Based on her recent work at Marco Gonzalez, Graham placed Coconut Walk Unslipped in the Late Classic period.

Valdez cited a personal communication with Anthony Andrews (Valdez et al. 1995:97) about the presence of what they called Coconut Walk Plain northward along the Caribbean coast, and this pottery seems to represent a long-lived tradition on the east coast of Belize. We are currently exploring the similarity of this pottery to Punta Ycacos Unslipped, a type connected with salt (p.151) production in southern Belize (McKillop 2002, Chapter 15). Here we focus on the origin of this pottery tradition, its currently known distribution, and some of the cultural implications of its apparent spread from the coast to inland areas.

Aimers became intrigued by this pottery tradition in his work with coauthor Murata at the site of Wits Cah Ak’al, previously called Mile 12, just south of Belize City (Figure 1.2), where unslipped plates, platters, and shallow dishes exclusively tempered with quartz emerged in the Late Preclassic and were classified as Straight Lagoon Unslipped. This is, to our knowledge, the earliest recognizable type within Calabash Unslipped Ware (but see Robertson Chapter 7 for a contemporary type, Ciego Composite: Chamah Variety, from Cerro Maya), a ware that was originally created for Rio Juan Unslipped pottery in the Postclassic era New Town Ceramic Complex at Barton Ramie (Gifford 1976) and is also found at Lamanai (Aimers personal observation). Three sequential types of Calabash Unslipped Ware, including Rio Juan Unslipped, were seriated based on form and temporal placement at Wits Cah Ak’al (Murata 2011). We suggest that Coconut Walk Unslipped be placed in this ware, for reasons we address below. Table 8.1 gives type-variety information for the three types that we created at Wits Cah Ak’al based on temporal context and formal qualities. These three types are part of a pottery tradition or, in standard type-variety terms, a sequence:

A ceramic sequence is composed of pottery types similar to each other in decorative style or manner of surface treatment (members of a single type-class) which can be shown to have developed one to another from early to late times. The types involved in a ceramic sequence, as indicators of developmental continuity involving a considerable length of time, usually transcend wares and may include type elements from any number of different ceramic systems.

(Gifford 1976:12)

Graham (1994:xvii, 140) identified plates, platters, and shallow dishes similar to Straight Lagoon Unslipped in Terminal Preclassic to Early Classic contexts in the Stann Creek area, but noted that she did not assign type names due to reservations about the standard type-variety method, the size of her sample, and the preliminary nature of her research. Graham called these vessels Kakalche Crude Orange Ware. In standard type-variety nomenclature, the platters could be designated as a type called Kakalche Unslipped within a Kakalche Group of Calabash Unslipped Ware. Issues of nomenclature aside, the closest correspondences noted by Graham (1994:144) for Kakalche Crude Orange Ware platters are to shell-tempered Jilon Plain: Early Variety in the Early Classic at Aguacatal, a site on the southwest coast of Campeche that had trade connections with (p.152)

Table 8.1. Type-variety information for the members of the Coconut Walk ceramic sequence at Witz Cah Ak’al


Late Preclassic–Early Classic (includes Terminal Preclassic)

Late-Terminal Classic

Terminal Classic–Early Postclassic


Calabash Unslipped Ware (Willey et al. 1965:384) or Coconut Walk Unslipped Ware (Graham 1994)

Calabash Unslipped Ware (Willey et al. 1965:384) or Coconut Walk Unslipped Ware (Graham 1994)

Calabash Unslipped Ware (Willey et al. 1965:384) or Coconut Walk Unslipped Ware (Graham 1994)


Straight Lagoon Group

Hector Creek Group

Rio Juan Group


Straight Lagoon Unslipped

Hector Creek Unslipped

Rio Juan Unslipped


Straight Lagoon Variety

Hector Creek Variety; HCU-2 Variety

Rio Juan Variety;Variety Unspecified


Kakalche Unslipped Ceramic System due to similarities to Graham’s (1994: 140–4) Kakalche Crude Orange Ware

Coconut Walk Unslipped Ceramic System

No system designation since we know of no analogous types with different names elsewhere

Belize and Petén (Matheny 1970). We have put the analogous type at Wits Cah Ak’al, Straight Lagoon Unslipped, in the Kakalche Unslipped Ceramic System (Table 8.1) to highlight its stylistic similarity to the Stann Creek pottery.

In Tzakol 3/Tepeu 1 Middle Classic contexts at the Colson’s Point sites, Graham documented the presence of Coconut Walk Unslipped Ware bowls, in-curving bowls, and rare plates or platters (Graham 1994:153–156). In standard type-variety classification, Graham’s vessels should probably be renamed the Coconut Walk Unslipped type and placed in a Coconut Walk Group of Calabash Unslipped Ware. Informally, this has already happened in discussions of the type among archaeologists. We are retaining the name Coconut Walk Unslipped rather than Coconut Walk Plain (Valdez et al. 1995) because the former name is closer to Graham’s original designation and is used more often (e.g., A. Andrews and Mock 2002).

For Wits Cah Ak’al, Murata (2011) described a variety of the type Hector Creek Unslipped (Table 8.1), which has the same surface finish and paste as the Hector Creek Variety, but with a form that closely resembles Postclassic period Rio Juan Unslipped jars. Murata called this variety HCU-2. It was found in association with both Late and Terminal Classic type vessels in excavations (p.153) at Operation 72, and alongside Rio Juan Unslipped at Operation 75. Murata suggested that the HCU-2 variety may be transitional between Hector Creek Unslipped: Hector Creek Variety and Rio Juan Unslipped: Rio Juan Variety. Thus, the collared jar form used to define the type Rio Juan Unslipped in the Early Postclassic at Barton Ramie (Op 75 Zone 9; Gifford 1976:307–310) may have emerged in the Late Classic at Wits Cah Ak’al and therefore may be earlier on the coast than at inland sites such as Barton Ramie in the Belize River valley and Lamanai on the New River Lagoon.

This is reasonable given the lack of Classic period antecedents to Rio Juan Unslipped in the Belize Valley and the fact that no well-accepted Terminal Classic diagnostics appear anywhere at Wits Cah Ak’al, with the possible exception of Roaring Creek Red dishes that also may have emerged in the Late Classic. Nevertheless, the distinctive collared rim mode of the Rio Juan jars is very characteristic of Postclassic period pottery across the peninsula and so rare in the Classic period that Aimers was initially hesitant to accept a date for the Rio Juan Unslipped at Mile 12 prior to the Terminal Classic to Early Post-classic transition. Whatever its exact temporal origin, this quartz-tempered technostylistic tradition appears to have spread inland rapidly somewhere near the beginning of the Postclassic. The presence of Rio Juan Unslipped at Lamanai, the upper Belize Valley, and the Petén Lakes without clear antecedents in any of these areas demonstrates how far this style moved in a relatively brief period.


Due to the thin, fragile nature of the vessels, lack of sooting, and lime incrustations on the interiors, Graham (1994:153–156) suggested Coconut Walk Unslipped may have been used for soaking, perhaps to make lime from shells or to soak corn in a lime solution. Graham has also argued that some of the pottery in this ceramic system was used in salt production based on analogies to salt-production pottery in the Maya highlands. Given the similarities to the well-known salt-production type Punta Ycacos Unslipped, we concur with Graham’s assessment (A. Andrews and Mock 2002:314–315). Among the contributors to a volume on Ambergris Caye excavations (Guderjan and Garber 1995) there was disagreement. “Valdez believed that, Coconut Walk is part of an evaporative salt-production complex in coastal northern Belize (Valdez and Mock 1989) which was defined in the south by MacKinnon and Kepecs (1989) and also found at the Northern River Lagoon site” (Valdez et al. 1995:97).

Tom Guderjan and Jim Garber were not convinced because the sherds were not associated with the lugs typically used in salt making:

(p.154) The Ambergris sites have direct access to large salt-producing lagoons ([A.] Andrews 1983) that were productive enough in colonial times for attempts at commercial exploitation to have probably occurred (Guderjan 1988). Some of the contexts of materials from Ek Luum and Chac Balam, as discussed in Chapter 3 of this volume [Guderjan and Garber 1995], also open the likelihood of other functions.

However, if this ceramic type functioned in salt production, it may then be conservatism that retains the ceramic form and composition. This conservatism may account for the longevity of a ceramic type in terms of its “description,” that is, form, paste composition, breakage patterns, etc.

(Valdez et al. 1995:99)

At Wits Cah Ak’al, the plate, platter, and shallow bowl forms diagnostic of Straight Lagoon Unslipped gave way around the start of the Late Classic to the bowls, some with incurved rims, and outcurving-rimmed jars that we have called Hector Creek Unslipped. Graham (1994:155) noted that similar shallow bowls at Late Preclassic Cerro Maya have been called Ciego Composite (Chamah Washed in Robertson-Freidel 1980; reevaluated in Robertson Chapter 7). Graham (1994:155–156) speculated that given the coastal locations of many analogous vessels, they may have been used for evaporating brine to produce salt, but she was initially skeptical due to vessel shapes, a lack of fire blackening, and the inappropriateness of solar evaporation in the wet Stann Creek environment:

The Tzakol 3-Tepeu 1 Coconut Walk unslipped ware from Watson’s Island tells another story, for it was clearly made at or very near Watson’s Island for a specific use, though I have played down the possibility of its use in salt production until more data are collected. The striking similarity of Coconut Walk unslipped ware bowls to the cajetes used in salt making in Sacapulas, Guatemala (Reina and Monaghan 1981) suggests that the ware was used by the Maya at Watson’s Island in the same manner—if not to produce the same product, then perhaps in a way related to the production of lime that took place in Tzakol 3–Tepeu 1 times.

(Graham 1994:247)

Murata reached a slightly different conclusion:

It seems almost certain that both the jars and HCU [Hector Creek Unslipped] were deeply related to the sal cocida process. Perhaps, as both ethnographic examples (Reina and Monaghan 1981) and logic dictate, multiple vessel types were utilized in the process—for example, vessels for storing the brine, for pouring the brine into boiling vessels, and for (p.155) the boiling process itself. Considering the friable nature of HCU, they may have been better suited for storing and pouring, while the jars were used for boiling. (2011:232)

We are still exploring the nature of the probable connection of members of the Coconut Walk Unslipped ceramic system to salt production (Aimers et al. 2015), but space limitations here require us to leave that discussion for now.


For this study, 15 representative samples of Coconut Walk Unslipped and macroscopically similar ceramic types from the Ambergris Caye sites of San Juan, Ek Luum, and Chac Balam (Guderjan and Garber 1995) were selected for petrographic analysis. The petrographic slides were prepared by Linda Howie of HD Analytical Solutions in London, Ontario (see also Howie et al. Chapter 9). Sherds for analysis were selected to reflect the range of macroscopic variation across the samples, including a sherd that may represent a very thin walled variety of Coconut Walk Unslipped and two sherds with red washes. Two samples from the Pozo Ceramic System and one sample of Tsabak Unslipped (Figure 8.2) were included because their paste and surface resemble Coconut Walk Unslipped although they came from larger and better-made vessels. Tsabak Unslipped was defined at Cerro Maya (Walker 1990:91–95), and Aimers has identified it at Lamanai.

The samples were studied in thin section by Elizabeth Haussner, then an undergraduate at SUNY Geneseo, under the supervision of Dori Farthing of Geneseo’s Department of Geological Sciences. The sections were described based on a technique outlined by Whitbread (1986, 1989, 1995). This technique combines aspects and terminology from sedimentary and soil petrography to comprehensively describe characteristics of ceramic thin sections, including voids, micromass (also known as groundmass), inclusions, and concentration/depletion features (Whitbread 1995).

The analysis revealed that all samples contained aligned, elongated voids. Three sherds, including one Coconut Walk Unslipped sherd, one sherd from the Pozo system, and the Tsabak Unslipped sherd (Figure 8.2), contained additional larger, more rounded, vuggy voids, which shared an alignment with the elongated voids. Also in alignment were the inclusions in each sherd. These inclusions proved to be the most striking result of the study (Figure 8.3).

Ambergris Caye is a reef-rimmed carbonate platform that was maintained through most of the Holocene by alternating periods of barrier reef growth and karstification (Mazullo 2006). This geological setting creates a local lithology (p.156) on and around the cay that is entirely carbonate in nature without the presence of siliciclastic sediments, such as quartz (Mazullo 2006). However, the inclusions in 14 out of the 15 ceramic sherds in this study were quartz dominated, indicating that these sherds were made with material not found on Ambergris Caye (Figure 8.2). This contradicted our initial assumptions about Coconut Walk Unslipped pottery. The one sherd not dominated by quartz contained more angular inclusions (Figure 8.3) and was one of two Coconut Walk Unslipped sherds in the sample with a red wash. Given its macroscopic and microscopic variation from standard Coconut Walk Unslipped, it may be reasonable to create a new variety designation, as Valdez and colleagues (1995) did, but currently we do not have a sample large enough to justify this. Furthermore, it is important to note that this sherd did contain quartz inclusions, although these were smaller and a minor constituent of the sherd. In addition to the mineral grain inclusions, two samples of Coconut Walk Unslipped contained inclusions that could be interpreted as shell material.

In numerous sherds, micrite and sparry calcite were visible rimming the inside of voids or capping mineral grains within the samples. Most likely, the crystals rimming the inside of voids were secondary features that formed in the void space after the pottery was made. In two samples, concentrations of sparry calcite crystals formed isolated features within the micromass. Also present in numerous sherds was a dark brown amorphous concentration or depletion feature. A few samples also presented a textural concentration feature that appeared to be a different type of clay mixed into the micromass of the sherd.

The fabrics of the micromass of samples in this study varied widely. Some samples had a stronger fabric, other samples had a weak fabric, and others had no discernible fabric. However, although micromass fabric is included in Whitbread’s descriptive method for the characterization of ceramic thin sections, it does not reveal any clues about the mineralogy of the material. This is one of the limits of thin section petrography. Therefore, additional analysis of these sherds, such as x-ray diffraction, would be the next step in petrographic analysis of Coconut Walk Unslipped.

These findings surprised us because we assumed that pottery on a cay covered in sand would be tempered with that local sand. When we conveyed the findings to Elizabeth Graham, she shared with us an unpublished paper describing ceramics from the Marco Gonzalez site on Ambergris Caye (Teal 1994). In commenting on the quartz temper found in some of the pottery types from Marco Gonzalez, including Coconut Walk Unslipped, Chellie Teal concluded: (p.157)

An Expedient Pottery Technology and Its Implications for Ancient Maya Trade and Interaction

Figure 8.2. Cross-polarized image of Tsabak Unslipped sherd, sample SJTS-15 from San Juan with large inclusions of quartz grains.

(Photograph courtesy of Dori Farthing.)

An Expedient Pottery Technology and Its Implications for Ancient Maya Trade and Interaction

Figure 8.3. Plane-polarized image of Coconut Walk Unslipped sherd, sample SJTS-09 from San Juan with angular nonquartz inclusions. This was one of two sherds in the sample with a red wash.

(Photograph courtesy of Dori Farthing.)

(p.158) Based on hundreds of core samples taken over the years by S. J. Mazzullo (personal communication 1994), quartz (detrital or authigenic) is either nonexistent or present only in trace amounts (1%) in the modern sediments on and around Ambergris Caye. It would therefore have been impossible for any Mayan potter to concentrate the volume of quartz necessary for tempering the Marco Gonzalez pottery from any source on or around Ambergris Caye. In contrast, quartz is very abundant and could have been easily obtained near the granitic intrusions and associated metamorphic rocks of the Maya Mountains in southern Belize. Also, detrital quartz and feldspar, together with micas and pyroxene eroded from the Maya Mountains, compose the bulk of river and coastal sediments in southern Belize (Krueger 1963) and along most of the mainland coast northward from Belize city to Bennett’s Lagoon directly opposite Ambergris Caye (S. J. Mazzullo, personal communication 1994). These are the most likely sources of the quartz (and associated feldspar, mica and pyroxene) found in the Marco Gonzalez pottery.

Petrographic examination of the thin sections indicates that the quartz in the pottery is predominantly monocrystalline, with moderate to strongly undulose extinction and lacking any inclusions or vacuoles. This type of quartz is characteristic of derivation from igneous and/or metamorphic sources (Folk 1968). The Maya Mountains are composed of such rocks (Ower 1928; Dixon 1956). These observations are therefore consistent with the interpretation that quartz used as temper in the Marco Gonzalez pottery likely was derived from inland, possibly the Maya Mountains, or coastal mainland Belize, but not from Ambergris Caye.

(Graham 1994:26–27)

Cultural Significance

As is often the case with ordinary pottery, there has not been much research on types such as Coconut Walk Unslipped, so we bring many assumptions to the analysis. Ethnoarchaeological research suggests that utilitarian pottery was made using local materials in small household or community workshops. “Potters commonly circulate their wares within a 15 to 50 km radius of their homes, with a tendency toward the lower end of the range” (Stark 2003:209). Murdock and Provost (1973) found that in 76 percent of 105 pottery-producing societies, household pottery production was undertaken entirely or mainly by women.

Investigators rarely point out that cooking pots are often harder to produce (p.159) than serving vessels due to how they are used. The heavy temper of these pots would increase performance in cooking, and sand temper in particular provides “better heating effectiveness than comparable untempered vessels” (Skibo and Schiffer 1995:83). Rough-textured surfaces do not increase heating effectiveness but do prevent spalling and cracking since heat and stream can escape more easily. Globular shapes also are better for cooking than ones with sharp changes in curvature. Together, these characteristics define a technological style (Lechtman 1977; Lemonier 1986). The sudden appearance of this pottery tradition is without precedent far inland at Lamanai and in the Belize Valley in the Early Postclassic. Elsewhere, one of us (Aimers 2012) has argued that the tradition moved inland via rivers as part of the intense population movement around the Maya lowlands during the turbulence of the Terminal Classic collapse (Aimers 2004). This hypothesis is supported by data from other ordinary cooking traditions that entered the Belize Valley simultaneously, including griddles for tortillas, suggesting migration.

When Rio Juan Unslipped appeared in the Belize Valley and at Lamanai in the Postclassic, there appears to have been two different recipes. The Rio Juan Variety had quartz without calcite, whereas the Unspecified Variety contained calcite as well as quartz (Gifford 1976). There are at least two ways to explain this diversity. In one scenario, the two recipes may represent different groups of potters. Perhaps an immigrant group brought the quartz-tempered tradition, and then local groups modified the recipe by adding calcite as they had done for centuries with other unslipped types. Another explanation could be that the noncalcite-tempered Rio Juan Unslipped: Rio Juan Variety was traded into the Belize Valley and northern Belize, where it was copied in a paste that included calcite. It is also interesting that Robert Sharer and Arlen Chase (1976), in their discussion of the Barton Ramie collections, note “vague Yucatecan similarities” for the calcite-tempered Variety Unspecified, probably in reference to the effigy lugs found in this variety (see R. E. Smith 1971: Fig. 28a). The combination of distinctive modal attributes and a distinctive technological style may say something about the sociopolitical affiliations of the potters making the calcite-tempered Variety Unspecified; that is, they were northern rather than coastal.

None of the Hector Creek Unslipped types that were thin sectioned and examined with instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis for Murata’s dissertation had calcite inclusions; rather, they are entirely quartz tempered. It appears that an early facet of the Hector Creek Unslipped jars had curved rims (Operation 75 below Zone 2) that gradually transformed into Rio Juan Unslipped: Rio Juan Variety collared jars. The two facets can be separated only by formal modes.

(p.160) Discussion

The fact that Barton Ramie’s Rio Juan Unslipped appears suddenly in the Belize Valley in the Postclassic period with no discernible precursor suggests that it was an introduction. In that light, it is informative to consider the impression that Calabash Unslipped Ware made on Gifford, who referred to the ceramics of the New Town phase as follows: “the relative decline in ceramic standards is one of the sharpest witnessed anywhere” (Gifford 1965:384). Rio Juan Unslipped was part of “a rag-tag of crudely fashioned unslipped odds and ends very difficult to classify in any orderly way” (Gifford 1965:384). When compiling descriptions of the New Town complex, Sharer and Chase tentatively suggested that this supposed decline represented economic devolution: “a reversion to single household as opposed to ‘mass’ or specialized, pottery production may be seen in the overall ceramic variability.” They further concluded that “Gifford’s … sociopolitical analysis of the situation, in which the collapse of a technically specialized society yields to the basic family unit with an associated lack of technical know-how, appears to be upheld” (Sharer and Chase 1976:288–289). They do take issue with the degree of decline represented by the More Force, Rio Juan, and Maskall Unslipped Groups, but the fact that they later suggest that Rio Juan Unslipped represents a late facet of New Town at least implies that they saw standards as deteriorating throughout the Postclassic. More Force Unslipped was tentatively placed in Uaxactun Unslipped Ware and does more closely resemble the Classic period unslipped types.

In any case, the fact that the members of the Coconut Walk Unslipped Ceramic Sequence coexist with a sophisticated ceramic technology represented by very well made red-lipped and red-rimmed jars for over 1,000 years at Wits Cah Ak’al suggests that, in fact, Rio Juan Unslipped does not represent a radical change in production overall, but the introduction of an expedient ceramic technology that had been used by coastal people for about a millennium. In other words, Rio Juan Unslipped in the Belize Valley may represent immigration rather than degeneration. An expedient technology is just that; it need not indicate sociopolitical decline. A contemporary analogy for an expedient technology is paper plates, which were introduced well after porcelain and stoneware but do not track a decline in sociopolitical complexity. In fact, they reflect an increase in sociopolitical complexity.


Many questions remain about Coconut Walk Unslipped and related types. The evidence we have presented here is that it was developed first by coastal people, (p.161) perhaps in relation to salt production, for ordinary household use, or for multiple purposes. The presence of imported quartz temper in the sherds from Ambergris Caye discussed here and by Teal (1994) suggests that the temper was very important to the performance of the pottery. We hope that others working on the coast of the Caribbean, including those working around Chetumal Bay, will take a closer look at this visually unappealing but culturally important pottery. Clearly, waterborne trade made this pottery production system possible, as Linda Howie and colleagues discovered by examining routine pottery exchange in the Lamanai region, the topic considered in the next chapter.