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Ancient West MexicosTime, Space, and Diversity$

Joshua D. Englehardt, Verenice Y. Heredia Espinoza, and Christopher S. Beekman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066349

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066349.001.0001

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The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Chapter:
(p.62) 2 The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones
Source:
Ancient West Mexicos
Author(s):

Christopher S. Beekman

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813066349.003.0003

Abstract and Keywords

Los Guachimontones is the largest archaeological site in the Tequila Valleys of central Jalisco and among the most extensively studied sites in the region. Nonetheless, the site lacks an established ceramic sequence, complicating efforts to understand the architectural and habitational chronology at the paramount site of the Teuchitlán tradition. This chapter synthesizes data from over 20 years of survey and excavation, presenting the totality of evidence derived from radiocarbon dates, ceramics and their distribution, figure and figurine debris, burials and offerings, and stratigraphic pits. The chapter concludes by summarizing the results of the analyses to propose a much-needed model of the architectural stratigraphy and occupational history of Los Guachimontones.

Keywords:   Los Guachimontones, Teuchitlán tradition, Jalisco, Tequila valleys, Ceramic sequence, Chronology, Architectural stratigraphy

The site of Los Guachimontones is located in the Tequila valleys of central Jalisco. With its nuclear sector and the secondary sectors of Talleres, Loma Alta, and Texcalame, it was the largest known archaeological site in western Mexico prior to the Epiclassic period. The built space at the site is composed of two types of formal public architecture: ballcourts and circular groups of platforms around a circular altar and known as either circles or guachimontones. Most residential architecture takes the form of rectangular patio groups familiar to Mesoamericanists, although some small circles are found among the residential areas as well. Nearly a century after the site’s discovery (Breton 1903), it became the focus of the Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán under the direction of Phil Weigand. In this first phase of operations, the project carried out excavations from 1999 to 2010 oriented toward restoration for purposes of tourism. The excavations exposed the weaknesses of Weigand’s approach to archaeological chronology, in which he had relied first on the assumption that public architecture became more elaborate over time (Weigand 1979, 1985, 1993), and that ceramic analysis could be reduced to identifying major decorated types or “flags” (Weigand personal communications, 1992 onward). When the first radiocarbon dates for the Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán (PAT) established that the largest and most elaborate circular group was also one of the earliest, it became clear that the architectural sequence was conceptually flawed and empirically incorrect (Beekman and Weigand 2008). As part of the ongoing efforts to reassess the collections from Los Guachimontones (Figure 2.1) for purposes of research, we must reevaluate the historical sequence at Los Guachimontones using additional categories of evidence. Based on a general review of the ceramics, it is clear that the site was occupied from the (p.63)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.1. Map of the Nuclear and Talleres sectors of Los Guachimontones (courtesy of the Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán). Operations ER2 and ER3 are not located in early PAT reports and are approximate based on text descriptions.

(p.64)

Table 2.1. Chronological sequence used in this chapter, with defining sites and publications

Phase

Proposed Dates

Published Ceramic Descriptions

Example Sites

Atemajac II

AD 1400–1600

Beekman and Weigand 2000; Davenport 2011; Galván 1979, 1983; Nance et al. 2013

Bugambilias Arriba, Anona, Tiana, Las Cuevas, El Guaje

Atemajac I

AD 900–1400

Davenport 2011; Glassow 1967; Nance et al. 2013

Huistla, Anona, Tiana, Las Cuevas, El Guaje

El Grillo

AD 450/500–900

Aronson 1993; Montejano 2007; Smith 2008

Tabachines box tombs, La Higuerita, Oconahua

Tequila IV

AD 200–450/500

Beekman 2001; Beek-man and Weigand 2000; Galván 1991; López 2011; Ramos and López 1996

Tabachines shaft tombs, Llano Grande, Huitzilapa circle

Tequila III

100 BC–AD 200

Beekman and Weigand 2000; Blanco et al. 2010; Galván 1991; Johns 2014; López 2011; Ramos and López 1996

Tabachines shaft tombs, Navajas, Huitzilapa tomb

Tequila II

300–100 BC

Beekman and Weigand 2000, Blanco et al. 2010; Galván 1991

Tabachines shaft tombs

Tequila I

ca. 1000–300 BC

Heredia and Beekman 2018

Sites identified by the Proyecto Arqueológico Ex–Laguna de Magdalena (PAX)

Magdalena

ca. 1500–1000 BC

Heredia and Beekman 2018

Sites identified by the PAX

Middle Formative through the Late Postclassic period, encompassing three major ceramic traditions (with subdivisions) named Tequila, El Grillo, and Atemajac (Table 2.1). The first period received the most attention during Weigand’s tenure as the director of the PAT, and it is the period that has been most affected by the use of the architectural chronology.

Earlier PAT personnel report having examined 65,000 sherds from Los Guachimontones architectural groups Circles 1, 10, Ballcourts 1 and 2, residential group La Joyita A, and Loma Alta Ballcourt 1 (Blanco et al. 2010). Few of these data exist in project files, but summary charts appear in some informes, or reports. The contexts analyzed are not recorded, so it is not possible to say whether these ceramics came from floors, fill, or other contexts. From our own efforts to identify useful contexts however, (p.65) it seems clear that fill and trench contexts must have been incorporated to have reached the quantity reported. That analysis concluded that there were no discernible changes in the ceramics across the period attested to by radiocarbon dates at the site—that is, from 300 BC to AD 400. That analysis used a typology defined by proposed vessel functions, and sherds were recorded by type without additional information about rims, modes, diameters, decoration, forms, and so on. The apparent continuity in functional categories may be due to continuity in activities over time rather than the absence of chronological differences in the materials themselves. Their conclusions were in any case directly contradicted by Weigand, who in a separate discussion of artifacts from the site (Beekman and Weigand 2008, 2010) described a sequence of artifact changes over time. Since Weigand was a coauthor on both publications, it is hard to know which conclusions to follow. Therefore, a new and more detailed analysis was necessary to assess the site’s chronology.

Problems with Working with the Collections from Los Guachimontones

Prior excavations at the Los Guachimontones site were oriented toward restoration for tourism purposes, emphasizing primarily the occupation from the Late Formative and Early Classic periods. Excavations thus treated later materials within the built space from these periods as overburden to be removed with limited recording. Excavations often proceeded beginning with one or more trenches that crossed or outlined architecture, and upper stratigraphic layers were treated summarily or grouped together in excavation. Excavators commonly collected all artifacts from the ground surface down to structures or floors as a single lot without distinguishing by stratigraphic context. The stratigraphy discerned in these trenches was recorded in section drawings, and this information was used to guide later excavations. Our current understanding of excavation recording is that Capas designated natural stratigraphic layers (with either numerical or text labels such as húmica, negra, and so on), while Niveles designated distances below surface (typically 20 centimeter units, as in 20–40 centimeters, although sequential numbers appear to have been used on occasion). Capas in at least some cases were assigned after excavation upon observation of the exposed stratigraphy.

Stratigraphic observations in the sections by Weigand during the first few seasons of excavation include much descriptive detail because of their (p.66)

Table 2.2. Ceramic analyses to date using the combined type–variety/modal approach

Project

Site

# of Sherds Analyzed

Weight of Sherds Analyzed in g

Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán (PAT) 2012, 2014, 2015

Los Guachimon-tones (incl. Loma Alta)

22,312

191,306

Tequila Valleys Regional Archaeological Project (TVRAP) 2003, 2004, 2011

Navajas

20,967

115,693

Proyecto La Primavera (PLP) 1993, 1994

La Venta Corridor

11,116

65,648

Proyecto Arqueológico ex–Laguna de Magdalena (PAX) 2013

Magdalena Basin

6,174

92,316

TVRAP 2000, 2003

Llano Grande

1,546

23,514

Total

59,408

455,290

Source: Compiled by author.

importance for architectural interpretation. As the project grew after 2001, stratigraphic descriptions became increasingly schematic, and very few features (postholes, trash or storage pits, and so on) were recorded anywhere in the excavated areas of the site. In the course of reviewing project reports, there were few locations where artifacts were collected in a natural stratigraphic sequence in a manner that would be of value for chronological purposes. Excessive attention during excavation was given to the recovery of artifacts and carbon samples from fill contexts, despite the weaknesses of such locations for dating, probably because of project interest in construction techniques.

Beginning in 2012, investigators from the University of Colorado–Denver, California State University–Los Angeles, El Colegio de Michoacán, University College of London, Trent University, and the University of Calgary have analyzed ceramics from use contexts at Los Guachimontones. Since 1993, I have developed a system of ceramic analysis based on materials from other locations in the Tequila valleys—surface collections and test excavations from the La Venta Corridor and the Magdalena Lake Basin (this last with Verenice Heredia), and from extensive excavations at Llano Grande and Navajas (Table 2.2). This has resulted in a type-variety system to collect data on surface treatment, forms, and pastes supplemented (p.67) by a modal analysis to capture information on more sensitive changes in form. The type-variety component owes a great deal to the prior work of Javier Galván (especially 1991), and his initial analysis of tomb lots from the cemetery at Tabachines. Johns (2014) has recently completed a study of the manufacture characteristics of the different wares in order to better understand their possible functions. Because of our experience with collections from the extremes of the Tequila valleys, we now recognize regional variations in the occurrence of different wares and types. These antecedents are available in various publications (Beekman 1996a, 1996b, 2006; Beekman and Weigand 2000, 2008; Johns 2014). This chapter presents our ongoing application of this system to the early part of the sequence at Los Guachimontones.

Dating any sizable multicomponent settlement must address several problems. All parts of the site are likely to have seen some activity if only due to their close proximity to one another. Construction stirs up previously buried materials and incorporates them into the fill of new construction or scatters them among those contexts that would have been exposed in that period. Therefore, trace quantities of materials from a given phase cannot be considered to date an architectural group, and we should use multiple methods to date the construction of each group. Several methods are incorporated into the chronological analysis presented here:

Architectural stratigraphy. Weigand has already reviewed the evidence for the integrated construction sequence for Circles 1, 2, 3, 4, and Ballcourt 1, to develop a relative sequence (Weigand 2008).

Radiocarbon dates (Preliminary analysis of half the available dates in Beekman and Weigand 2008).

Analysis of excavated ceramic debris.

Analysis of figure and figurine fragments. This category and the preceding represent aggregated activities over time.

Analysis of the vessels and complete figures/figurines from offerings and burials. These reflect short-term events. One problem with using the existing collections was that the same vessels were attributed to different contexts in different project documents, and Lefae (2015, 2017) has reviewed the reports and original photos to correct these provenience problems.

Analysis of stratigraphic pits. We identified 20 pits with two or more strata that we could use to evaluate the relative order of ceramics and to test the sequence.

(p.68) Architectural Stratigraphy

Weigand (1999, 2008; Weigand and García de Weigand 2000) observed during excavations at Los Guachimontones that the interface between architectural units enabled him to develop a construction sequence for the major architectural groups. This evidence unfortunately only extended to part of the nuclear sector, but it provides a relative framework for the analysis. We noted additional possible relationships between groups in the Loma Alta sector during our own analysis.

Weigand proposed that Los Guachimontones Circle 1 and Ballcourt 1 were built at approximately the same time since they shared multiple platforms on the side where they interdigitated. On the other side of the ballcourt, the lateral platform interdigitated with the platforms of Circle 2 when the ballcourt was expanded, and hence Circle 2 followed the construction of the ballcourt. Similarly, the platform forming the far northwestern end of the ballcourt was initially small, but it was later expanded and reoriented away from the ballcourt when it was incorporated into a new Circle 4. Circle 3 similarly appears to have been added after Circle 2 since their one shared platform is of a comparable size to those in Circle 2 but oversized compared to those in Circle 3. Although our consolidation and review of the plans, sections, and descriptions is continuing (DeLuca 2014, 2017), these relationships remain plausible.

Not discussed by Weigand was the arrangement of architecture in Loma Alta (Figure 2.2). Ballcourt 1 is notable for the manner in which it connects awkwardly with Circle A in that sector. The platform shared by Ballcourt 1 and Circle A shares the orientation of the ballcourt, even though it creates a disjunction in how that structure fits within Circle A. I suggest that both Circle A and the unnumbered circle north of Circle A were already in place, forcing the ballcourt to be constructed in an awkwardly defined space. Circle B appears to have been constructed after Circle A because they share a large platform that matches the scale of the other platforms on Circle A—the logic here is similar to the observation that the construction of Circle 3 in the nuclear sector postdates Circle 2.

The two architectural sequences may be linked by noting that Ballcourt 1 of Loma Alta shares the same orientation of 325° with the larger Ballcourt 1 of the nuclear sector. They may have been built at the same time, although the Loma Alta Ballcourt 1 is smaller and may be a derivative of the one in the nuclear sector. All these proposed relationships are represented in Figure 2.3 below. The relationships between these architectural groups only (p.69)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.2. Map of the Loma Alta and Texcalame sectors (courtesy of the Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán)

(p.70)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.3. Schematic representation of relative stratigraphic relationships between architectural groups from the Nuclear Sector (NS), and the Loma Alta (LA) Sector (photograph by the author).

suggest the relative order in which they were constructed, and do not provide any information on how long activity continued in each space, which can best be evaluated through more chronologically sensitive datasets.

Radiocarbon Dates

Radiocarbon samples from the nuclear and Loma Alta sectors were collected and submitted for analysis by the PAT. Some have been reported elsewhere and were integrated with the Los Guachimontones architectural sequence at that time (Beekman and Weigand 2008, 2010). The central problem with those radiocarbon determinations was that many were taken from architectural fill contexts or from burned organics embedded within the clay used for aplanado, the fired face of the clay body of the platforms. Fill contexts can of course date to any period prior to sealing the construction, while organics within clay could potentially have been in place within the clay source itself and do not necessarily represent any particular moment of the construction history. The choice of these contexts stemmed from a reliance upon architecture instead of ceramics as the basis for the chronological sequence. The result is that the samples do not isolate and date significant transitions in the architectural history, such as construction or abandonment, as would have been the case had caches or interface contexts been dated more aggressively. While the dates have value, they may have a large range of error for dating construction. The prior analysis (p.71) (Beekman and Weigand 2008, 2010) attempted to take this into account and evaluate the dates within their stratigraphic position. Here I develop an updated version of the original analysis, which was not published in full, and include the second round of radiocarbon dates provided by Weigand but never analyzed in print. I use the original calibrations of the radiocarbon age determinations, and present all ranges at 1 sigma. I assume that initial construction dates for any platform of a guachimontón date the construction of that guachimontón as a whole. Continuing activity at an architectural group is represented by dates on platform expansions, but this information was provided by Weigand and has not yet been confirmed through the reanalysis of site stratigraphy.

Beta 192096 (390–350, 300–220 BC) provides the earliest dated evidence of activity at Los Guachimontones, in the form of material from the lower part of the oven in the La Joyita A residential area. A review of the informes suggests that this is probably from the “Gran Horno,” but there is another oven reported from the group. With a range broadly defined as 400–200 BC, the date seems quite possible, although it is difficult to evaluate without any other dates from contexts linking it to the rest of the ceremonial center. No dating evidence speaks to how late the group was occupied.

Circle 6 has multiple dates in association with the construction sequence of the altar and, by extension, the circle as a whole. Tombs 4 (Beta 192086—160–60 BC) and 6 (Beta 192085—AD 60–160) are said to predate the initial construction of the altar, although it is not clear what this means. Presumably the altar was immediately built over them. The two dates do not agree between themselves, but the later date is unlikely because of the dates from the expansion of the altar. More information on the specific materials being dated might suggest the reason for the wide spread in dates. I propose that the first date is associated with the initial construction, and the later date suggests that the excavator may have been mistaken about the stratigraphic placement of Tomb 6 (Cach 2008 is not clear). The dates from Offerings 2 (Beta 192087—125 BC–AD 25) and 5 (Beta 192084—50 BC–AD 150) are reportedly within the next construction stage of the altar. Since we know that they date offerings, these are more likely to be good representatives of the time period of the expansion. The two dates overlap in the range 50 BC–AD 25, when the circle was likely expanded, and provide an upper limit on the initial construction of the circle. We can propose on this basis that Circle 6 was likely built before the mid-first century BC and that the expansion occurred quickly thereafter. This circle cannot be linked to the others in the overall site construction sequence, and so its relative position in the (p.72) sequence can only be inferred from the dates. The contents of the offerings from the two stages suggest that the original construction falls within the Tequila II phase, while the expansion dates to early Tequila III (see below). This provides a date for the transition between these two subphases in line with previous work at Navajas (Beekman and Weigand 2008).

A good date for the construction of the largest and most complex, Circle 1, does not exist. The age determination Beta 215271 from the fill of Platform 1 should be quite close at 160–40 BC. Other dates pertain to later expansions in the construction sequence. The date from the expansion of Platform 7 of Circle 1 (Beta 192097—40 BC–AD 45) indicates that Circle 1 should have been built before this time. The dated aplanado on Platform 2 of Circle 1 (Beta 192093—20 BC–AD 851) reportedly decorates an expansion of the building, and dates the organic material in the finished surface to the same general period of expansion as Platform 7. This is earlier than the date (Beta 192092—AD 95–195) from the otate superstructure, which is expected: the perishable superstructure would have been renovated periodically. The age determination Beta 215272 comes from a hearth in the patio in front of Platform 2 and dates to AD 60–240, extending occupation still later. Whether a hearth in the patio of the public architecture signifies ongoing occupation or decline requires further assessment, however. The date (Beta 192098—AD 30–120) from the Lunate Plaza behind Platform 7 of Circle 1 places its construction in the late first century AD, although we have not as yet located any reports describing its excavation.

Circle 2 should be the best dated of all the architectural groups, but the PAT relied upon poor contexts for dating. Built sometime after Circle 1, Circle 2 has several dates relevant to the original construction, and they are all reportedly fill dates. Beta 215280 (360–290, 250–230 BC), Beta 215273 (370–100 BC), Beta 192095 (AD 1–80), Beta 215278 (AD 60–240), and Beta 215279 (AD 240–420) reportedly come from the fill of several different platforms, and show a disappointingly wide range. Beta 215274 (340–320, 210–40 BC) may also be a fill date, as it is said to come from burned material at the base of a wall from (inside?) Platform 6. There is a date reportedly associated with a burned offering within Platform 10—Beta 192099 (AD 15–115), which should be the most trustworthy as it is on a cultural deposit presumably made at the time of construction. But the wide spread of fill dates makes dating the construction of Circle 2 very problematic, as it would seem to push construction until the third century; fortunately, the dates from Circle 3 (which follows Circle 2 in relative order of construction) force an earlier construction date. Further research should focus on (p.73) clarifying these contexts—the latest “fill” dates may actually have been from unrecognized activity contexts.

Two dates come from within an extension to Platform 8, Circle 2, Beta 192091 (185–35 BC) and Beta 192089 (AD 150–290). These dates provide a terminus post quem for the expansions, and the second date is from a maize offering that should be closest to the date when the construction was sealed. Beta 215269 (10 BC–AD 170) comes from a hearth and associated trash on the lateral walls between Platforms 8 and 9. Depending on the exact physical location of these last two dates, they may pin down the expansion of Platform 8 more specifically to AD 150–170. A date from the aplanado of Platform 6 (Beta 192102—90 BC–AD 50) should be the latest in terms of construction sequence, but probably dates older carbon in the clay. Radiocarbon dating of carbon in clay should be avoided, although optically stimulated luminescence would not suffer from this problem. Beta 215270 (AD 1010–1150) from within the double wall of Platform 7 must be intrusive, or I am interpreting the stated recovery location incorrectly.

Circle 3 is the next in the sequence according to the construction data. The sample (Beta 192094—AD 80–220) from the layer deep within the fill may be close to the date of the circle’s initial construction. We might split the difference between Circle 2 and Circle 3’s construction to have the former built by AD 100 and the latter after AD 100. Even if this date pertains to an expansion of Platform 3 (as the description of the sample states as a possibility), such an addition seems to have taken place relatively soon after the original construction, which is narrowly bracketed between this date and the construction of Circle 2. Beta 192100 (AD 110–210) dates fill from a more secure expansion of this same Platform 3 to the second century AD or later, closely following and even overlapping the evidence for the initial construction. Again, we might split the difference to place the dating of the original construction of Circle 3 to AD 100–175 and its expansion to AD 175–220.

Circle 4, according to the construction sequence, was built when Ball-court 1 was expanded and Circle 2 was built, or prior to AD 100. Two dates from Circle 4 are disappointing, but another two look promising. Beta 215276 (360–280, 260–240 BC) is burned material from the fill of Platform 3, while Beta 215277 (1270–940 BC) is from the aplanado of Platform 2. Both are far too early. Beta 215283 (40 BC–AD 130) and Beta 215284 (AD 30–220) are from within the patio floor in front of Platform 1. Circle 4 may have been built at any time after approximately 40 BC, but, as noted, prior to AD 100.

(p.74) Circles 7 and 8 each have one date to help pin down their period of use. Beta 215282 (380–160 BC) from Circle 7, Platform A, is reportedly below a vessel within the platform that may be an offering. Alternatively, this could simply be another fill date. This context should receive further attention to clarify the situation. Beta 215281 (AD 220–400) comes from Circle 8, the “exterior platform … above the floor,” and would seem to place this circle among the latest in use at the site. The only date obtained for Loma Alta is Beta 215285 (7950–7600 BC), from the fill beneath the Ballcourt 1 floor, and is clearly of little help.

In sum, the most parsimonious explanation of the sequence of dates is as follows. Dated evidence for occupation was apparent by the third or fourth centuries BC at La Joyita A, establishing a residential component prior to the construction of the public architecture. Circle 7 may have been built any time after 360 BC. Circle 6 was constructed circa 160–50 BC, and the altar was expanded with new offerings circa 50 BC–AD 30. Circle 1 was constructed between 160 and 40 BC since expansions were already under way by that time, and occupation continued into the second or third century. The Lunate Plaza was built by the late first century AD. The expansion of Ballcourt 1 and the constructions of Circles 2 and 4 should have occurred at the same time, to judge from the reported integration of the architecture, but there is still considerable leeway in the dating. Circle 4 could have been built as early as 50 BC, but the two useful dates from Circle 4 suggest a date closer to AD 100. Circle 2’s construction is likely to have occurred AD 15–115, with expansions from AD 150 to 170. Circle 3 was likely built circa AD 100–175, and added to circa AD 175–220. Circle 8 was apparently in use in the third and fourth centuries AD This sequence traces the overall site occupation differently from what a strict enumeration of the radiocarbon dates suggests, because the dates are evaluated using what contextual information is available. We must keep in mind that the samples were not chosen to coincide with architectural or artifact transitions, and the resulting sequence remains loose.

Ceramic Debris

The analysis approached the collections from a small-site methodology perspective, in that each architectural group was assumed to have a relatively discrete period of occupation or use that would allow the recognition of more short-lived ceramic types. The assemblages for each group could be compared and potentially ordered into overlapping periods of time to (p.75) reconstruct an overall sequence. Groups rather than structures were considered the ideal unit of analysis because: (1) evidence for activity in one structure was considered evidence for the group as a whole, (2) the architectural groups were treated as operations organizing the excavations, and (3) artifact bags are sometimes labeled with a code whose meaning has not yet been deciphered. It has therefore not always been possible to assign collections to specific structures even though their tags might describe them as coming from “floors” or other useful contexts.

First, architectural groups were selected for analysis. The architectural repertoire consists of formal circles, ballcourts, residential groups, and a mix of smaller architectural units that tend to be domestic or at least nonpublic in their associated activities. Our initial efforts focused on the major architectural groups, such as the circles and the intensively excavated residential groups of La Joyita A and B. The first season of analysis deemphasized Loma Alta until we had a better understanding of the nuclear sector of the site. In our third round of analysis in 2015, Loma Alta received increased attention, samples were increased from the nuclear sector, and a series of “minor” contexts such as Estructura Residencial (ER)-1, ER-2, and the Gran Plaza were targeted for analysis.

Second, more specific contexts were identified. A database assembled by Juan José Cortés Guzmán was used to identify and select individual bags from each architectural group. Some contexts were rejected for any analysis: fill, upper strata that had been lumped during excavation, and ambiguous contexts whose identity could not be established. This removed the majority of bags from consideration. Another group of bags retained sufficient information that they could be useful for analysis in the future, but may require a much more detailed study of PAT informes, as no master list had been created that explained the contexts and their codes. Of those bags that remained, analysis targeted contexts that were described as floor surfaces, caches, burials, hearths, and so on, that pertained to the occupation/use of the architectural group. The intention was to analyze the equivalent of at least one box of ceramics, or on average 20 bags, from each architectural group. This was often exceeded. Beekman selected all bags for analysis, except for those from La Joyita A and B, which were selected by Catherine Johns in the pursuit of combined chronological and activity analysis.

Ceramic analysis proceeded along the lines pursued in previous studies in the La Venta Corridor (1993, 1994), Llano Grande (2000, 2003, 2011), Navajas (2003, 2011), and the Magdalena Basin (2013). This involves the use (p.76) of a mixed type-variety classification supplemented by a modal analysis, using categories that have continued to be expanded and refined over the course of the above investigations. Johns coordinated the analysis in 2012 and 2014, while Beekman did so in 2015. To keep data presentation from becoming too cluttered, Table 2.3 is the only place where I report both counts and weights, and the primary measurement used in the other charts will be weight in grams.

To briefly summarize the groups or wares, Tabachines was used for the finest semihemispherical bowls in simple cream, reduced black, or red on cream, the same color combinations as found among the small and solid figurines (Beekman 2006; Beekman and Weigand 2000; but see Johns 2014 for the most refined descriptions). The paste is very fine, with white silt-sized silicates and a prominent black core, with occasional hematite probably added during clay processing. These are the best candidates for ritual vessels for their thin walls and rapid firing. The Estolanos group includes vessels with thicker walls, made with a similar paste but with a uniformly crushed white temper, and the same decorative colors as Tabachines. It was used for bowls frequently with convergent walls, zoomorphic vessels, and the famous hollow figures best known from the shaft tombs (Beekman and Pickering 2016). At Los Guachimontones, the Estolanos paste was used for San Juanito, San Sebastián, and Ameca-Etzatlán style figures. The Colorines group was used for utilitarian vessels of all sizes, and includes a diverse range of inclusions of multiple-size classes. The Colorines paste forms a continuum that we have separated into Fine and Coarse Colorines. The latter was generally used for larger, closed vessels with less care invested in their painted decoration, while Fine Colorines tended to be for smaller open vessels. Hence the continuum in the fineness of the paste corresponds largely to that expected anyway between thicker-walled vessels that needed more support and thinner-walled vessels that did not. The Colorines vessels can be plain, or they can be decorated with red paint, or rarely reduced black, but the buff color of the paste frequently required a white slip for the application of the red decoration. This is particularly apparent in the Fine Colorines bowls. Finally, the Arroyo Seco group includes larger vessels with thick walls. They appear to be of everyday use based on their size and the simplicity of their decoration, but the surface is well polished, and the paste is very fine and shows intense processing. The vessels are generally open bowls with vertical or slightly divergent walls. They are fine, but large and simple, and Johns proposes that they were used for corporate public feasting. (p.77)

Table 2.3. Number of ceramics analyzed by architectural group, by count, and by weight

Context

Magdalena-Tequila I

Tequila II-III-IV

El Grillo

Atemajac I-II

Count

Weight

Count

Weight

Count

Weight

Count

Weight

Nuclear Sector

Circle 1

412

4,027

14

152

11

236

   Patio

70

729

9

60

2

66

   Pyramid

1

3

   Platform 1

5

58

   Platform 12

31

553

2

77

   Unlocated

310

2742

3

15

4

112

Circle 2

1

7

205

1,855

47

512

383

8,198

   Banq. betw. Plt. 8 & 9

1

7

   Platform 5

6

31

27

305

   Unlocated

199

1,824

47

512

356

7,893

Circle 3

312

1,908

10

67

83

603

   Altar

86

531

4

28

19

203

   Platform 2

22

189

1

6

   Platform 3

158

878

3

10

63

394

   Platform 8

34

180

1

8

   Plaza Exterior

2

68

   Unlocated

20

72

2

21

Circle 4

7

82

1241

8,326

28

124

   Platform 3

491

3,311

5

28

   Platform 4

4

73

483

3,590

3

14

   Unlocated

3

9

267

1,425

20

82

(p.78) Circle 5

326

3,525

21

222

26

540

   Platform 4

21

201

2

65

2

11

   Unlocated

305

3,324

19

157

24

529

Circle 6

420

5,281

67

836

623

8,204

   Patio

115

1,621

42

602

164

2,114

   Altar

266

3,054

8

54

257

3,850

   Unlocated

39

606

17

180

202

2,240

Circle 7

2

9

331

4,146

1

11

2

31

   Altar

75

1,059

1

11

   Unlocated

2

9

256

3,087

2

31

Circle 8

448

4,040

8

67

116

1,860

   Altar

71

621

6

39

   East Platform

13

121

   Unlocated

364

3,298

8

67

110

1,821

Circle 10

217

2,250

   Banquette

6

463

   Unlocated

211

1,787

Ballcourt 1

8

77

561

5,899

21

300

131

2,146

   Court

4

30

38

322

9

97

2

46

   East End Platform

1

8

159

1,593

6

75

6

202

   North Lateral Platform

19

213

   South Lateral Platform

4

58

   Unlocated

3

39

341

3,713

6

130

123

1,898

(p.79) Ballcourt 2

159

2,480

25

399

Ballcourt, East Plaza

80

629

1

9

4

105

   Early Structure 1

19

97

1

66

   Early Structure 2

23

231

1

9

2

30

   Unlocated

38

301

1

9

La Joyita A

1

3

6673

59,582

156

1350

198

2,431

   Estructura 1

251

3,187

17

72

2

40

   Estructura 2

1

3

1362

12,051

34

256

85

948

   Estructura 3

493

4,537

28

241

15

205

   Estructura 4

547

3,639

6

47

6

79

   Estructura 5

208

2,555

5

51

   Estructura 6

70

739

1

4

   Estructura 7

1136

10,299

2

8

12

184

   Estructura 8

317

2,358

7

96

5

22

   Estructura 9

76

665

4

26

2

11

   Patio

197

1,447

2

8

4

16

   Unlocated

2016

17,248

50

541

67

926

La Joyita B

1742

11,819

28

224

80

712

   Estructura 1

823

4,802

17

111

74

596

   Estructura 2

322

2,673

2

31

1

13

   Estructura 3

226

1,808

1

4

2

53

   Unlocated

420

2,939

5

32

4

33

ER-1

9

337

3

136

9

714

ER-2

1

8

3

42

(p.80) Circle 1, Plaza Exterior

535

5,128

11

259

1

21

   Structure A

35

280

1

13

   Structure C

20

319

3

31

1

21

   Unlocated

480

4,529

7

215

Grand Plaza

549

4,503

32

148

6

118

Talleres Sector

Talleres 1

39

666

7

110

Loma Alta Sector

Circle A

584

3,021

6

17

1

3

   Patio

285

1,614

4

11

1

3

   Structure 3

120

517

2

6

   Unlocated

179

890

Circle B

943

6,189

1

1

3

83

   EE

305

2,802

3

83

   EN

378

1,853

   Patio

17

56

   Unlocated

243

1,478

1

1

Circles A and B

626

3,280

1

6

1

5

Circle E

171

920

1

3

12

213

   Patio

143

762

1

3

12

213

   Unlocated

28

158

(p.81) Ballcourt 1

67

427

   Patio

1

10

   South End Platform

10

31

   Unlocated

56

386

Ballcourt 2

2347

11,452

5

26

2

11

   North End Platform

80

287

1

2

1

2

   Unlocated

2267

11,165

4

24

1

9

Patio IV

624

6,867

   Structure 1

228

3,315

   Structure 2

1

7

   Patio

97

991

   Unlocated

298

2,554

Source: Compiled by author.

Notes: Groups that were excavated by the PAT, but that we have not yet analyzed, are the following:

Nuclear Sector

Ballcourt 2, Postclassic Structures 1 and 2—presumed Atemajac phase

ER–3–No reported date

Talleres Sector

Talleres II—presumed Atemajac phase

Talleres III—presumed Atemajac phase

Talleres IV—presumed El Grillo and Atemajac phases

Texcalame Sector

El Texcalame—composed of a small circle considered to be habitational (presumed Tequila II–IV phases) and a large residential structure (reported to include all periods)

(p.82) Modes may refine the chronology, but here we will mention only a few that have been useful for chronological purposes. Based on their distributions in the shaft tombs from Tabachines (Galván 1991), oval vessels, miniature vessels, and jar necks of composite silhouette are indicators of the Tequila II phase. Tecomates do not show a consistent pattern at Tabachines, but may be Tequila II at Los Guachimontones—their presence will be monitored in future analyses. We have long recognized that bowls with concave bases are early in the sequence, probably Tequila II and III. Finally, modes that pertain to Tequila III and IV include the campana jar neck and rim, shaped like an upside-down bell, and square vessels with rounded corners. Due to their highly variable occurrences, modes must typically be multiplied by some factor in order to be easily compared between contexts. This factor varies for each mode, as the goal is only to compare different occurrences of the same mode.

Results

Blanco and colleagues (Blanco et al. 2010) used their results to propose relatively sharp differences between the guachimontón circles and groups of more residential function, based particularly in the ratios between finewares and utilitarian wares. Our results from more secure contexts and across a wider number of groups are more varied. The guachimontón architectural form does not show a single ceramic profile in relation to residential groups as represented by La Joyita, as summarized in Tables 2.4 and 2.5, respectively. All architectural groups share a basic pattern in which the majority of the ceramics are of the utilitarian Coarse Colorines ware, with the equally utilitarian Fine Colorines in second place. Tabachines and Estolanos wares are chronologically sensitive and thus more complex to interpret, but they are much less frequent in all contexts. The Arroyo Seco ware, also chronologically sensitive and perhaps not even made locally, shows up in still smaller amounts.

The two ballcourts stand out as having the most distinct assemblage. They both have the highest percentages of Coarse Colorines ware (averaging 82 percent), the lowest percentages of Tabachines ware (1 percent), and a low frequency of the specifically bichrome decorated types from the Coarse Colorines (9 percent) and Estolanos wares (4 percent), that is, ceramics are more utilitarian and less decorated. Some indicators suggest that there is a lower frequency of open relative to closed vessels, although this needs to be further examined by ware. One consequence of this kind of (p.83)

Table 2.4. Distribution of functionally distinct wares and selected modes in the nuclear sector, by architectural group

Nuclear sector

Circle 1

Circle 2

Circle 3

Circle 4

Circle 5

Circle 6

Circle 7

Circle 8

Circle 10

Avg. Circles

Ballcourt 1

Ballcourt 2

Avg. Ballcourts

WARES Coarse Colorines as % of total

53

79

51

58

59

44

70

67

69

58

79

90

82

Fine Colorines as % of total

30

15

40

29

34

48

19

25

10

31

15

10

14

Arroyo Seco as % of total

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

Estolanos as % of total

6

3

4

6

5

8

6

3

1

5

3

0

2

Tabachines as % of total

11

2

5

7

2

0

4

4

21

6

2

0

1

Wares 18, 19, or 21 presence

X

X

X

X

MODES

Rim 23 Vertical olla neck (T I-II?) as % of all rims x 10

70

5

19

10

Rim 132 (T I-II) as % of all rims x 100

Rims 9, 34, 35, 139 + Other 31 Composite silhouette (T II) as % of all rims

9

7

1

7

5

7

7

6

10

6

3

1

Other 16 Pinched vessels (T II) in g

8

11

126

48

(p.84) Other 34 Miniature vessels (T II) in g

Rims 5, 6, 68 neckless jar (T II?) as % of all rims

7

1

3

4

2

2

1

Base Form 2 Concave/dimpled base (T II-III) presence/absence

X

X

X

Rim 69 (T III-IV) as % of all rims x 10

17

70

3

123

13

7

7

59

33

14

7

Rim 30 Campana (T III-IV) as % of all rims x 100

1794

234

225

173

87

Other 33 Square vessel with rounded corners (T III-IV) presence/absence

Source: Compiled by author.

Notes: Percentages of wares are based on weight. Mode frequencies are presented in a variety of percentages or modified percentages to best draw out the distinctions in quantities at the different architectural groups. Very rare attributes are shown in terms of presence/absence. The frequency of these modes should not be compared to one another, only to separate occurrences of the same mode.

(p.85)

Table 2.5. Distribution of functionally distinct wares and selected modes in the nuclear and Talleres sectors, by architectural groups that may have had functions outside of the public sector

Nuclear and Talleres sectors

ER-1

Talleres 1

C1, Exterior Plaza

Ballcourt 2, East Plaza

La Joyita B

La Joyita A

Gran Plaza

ER-2

WARES

Coarse Colorines as % of total

87

83

82

80

73

72

66

64

Fine Colorines as % of totala

13

0

14

13

21

20

28

0

Arroyo Seco as % of total

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Estolanos as % of total

0

10

3

2

3

5

2

0

Tabachines as % of total

0

7

1

5

2

3

4

20

Presence of Wares 18, 19, or 21

X

X

MODES

Rim 23 Vertical olla neck (T I-II?) as

15

11

% of all rims x 10

Rim 132 (T I-II) as % of all rims x 100

266

7

Rims 9, 34, 35, 139 + Other 31

134

1

6

5

15

Composite silhouette (T II) as % of all rims

Other 16 Pinched vessels (T II) in g

22

Other 34 Miniature vessels (T II) in g

8

Rims 5, 6, 68 neckless jar (T II?) as % of all rims

1

4

4

3

Base Form 2 Concave/dimpled base (T II-III) presence/absence

X

X

Rim 69 (T III-IV) as % of all rims x 10

13

179

19

17

47

Rim 30 Campana (T III-IV) as % of all rims x 100

1297

379

15

138

Other 33 Square vessel with rounded corners (T III-IV) presence/absence

Source: Compiled by author.

Notes: Percentages of wares are based on weight. Mode frequencies are presented in a variety of percentages or modified percentages to best draw out the distinctions in quantities at the different architectural groups. Very rare attributes are shown in terms of presence/absence. The frequency of these modes should not be compared to one another, only to separate occurrences of the same mode.

(a) The Fine Colorines ware was not yet separated out from Coarse Colorines until after the Talleres 1 analyses were completed, and the La Joyita A and B analyses were one third of the way to completion.

(p.86) assemblage is that the ballcourts lack many of the distinctive wares and modes that are most useful for dating, so the ballcourts tend to be weakly placed in the sequence. The assemblage does suggest an interpretation of the ballcourts as more “corporate” (Blanton et al. 1996) spaces, with activities focused less on aggrandizement and more on integrative public events.

The means for the circle assemblages show a reduced percentage of Coarse Colorines (58 percent) and an increased presence of Fine Colorines (31 percent) relative to the ballcourts. The fine Tabachines (6 percent) and Estolanos (5 percent) wares are more common. Bichrome decorated types make up a larger percentage of their respective wares (63 percent of Coarse Colorines, 67 percent of Fine Colorines, 27 percent of Estolanos, and 59 percent of Tabachines wares). Thus relative to the ballcourts, the circle assemblages include more finewares and more decorated wares. However, there is a great deal of variation among the circles, with Coarse Colorines comprising 44–79 percent of a given circle’s assemblage, and Circle 2 with the same general assemblage as the adjoining Ballcourt 1, reflecting their proximity and similar construction date. Tabachines wares are so rare in one circle as to go unregistered (Circle 6). The highest percentage of Tabachines occurs not in the largest and most prominent circles, but in Circle 10, the smallest circle, built in a marginal location perhaps more conducive to private ritual. The utilitarian Coarse Colorines occurs in its lowest percentage in this same circle. Although Arroyo Seco was common at Tabachines (Galván 1991) and made up over half the assemblage at Navajas (Johns 2014), it only occurs in trace percentages at its contemporary Los Guachimontones, primarily in small-to mid-sized circles that otherwise show signs of late occupation (Circles 7 and 8). The distribution of Estolanos ware varies from 1 to 8 percent of the assemblages, but shows no clear pattern related to circle size or location.

The architectural groups in Table 2.5 may be distinct in function from the public circles and ballcourts. ER-1, ER-2, La Joyita A and B, Talleres 1, and the C1 Plaza Exterior are all proposed domestic structures based on the size and morphology of the platform group. The East Plaza resembles these groups, but its close proximity to Ballcourt 2 suggests a ritual-and/or game-related function. The Gran Plaza is an open space flanked by two structures and with a central altar, nestled behind Circles 1 and 2. In general, they all show an elevated occurrence of the utilitarian Coarse Colorines ware, but this is not straightforward for the Talleres and La Joyita groups. The Fine Colorines ware was only defined after the analysis of Talleres 1, and one third of the way through the analysis of La Joyita A and B. (p.87) This is a hindrance to analysis, but we can partly compensate by combining both Colorines wares for comparisons. The total percentages of the two Colorines wares in La Joyita and the other groups would thus look much like those of the circles in Table 2.4. More promising is the C1 Exterior Plaza, which primarily differs from the circles in its higher percentage of Coarse Colorines at the expense of Fine Colorines ware. The difference is more pronounced when compared to the immediately adjoining Circle 1—this group may be more of a storage space for vessels used in feasting than a residence. It is also very similar to the ballcourt assemblages. The Gran Plaza and Ballcourt 2 East Plaza assemblages are most similar to those of the circles, suggesting more ceremonial activities, and their elevated quantity of Coarse Colorines utilitarian wares may point to public feasting. Here and at C1 Exterior Plaza, we will need to review vessel diameters to assess this possibility. The assemblages from ER-1, ER-2, and Talleres 1 have interestingly divergent quantities of some wares, but they are also the groups with the smallest samples.

Chronological factors play a role in the makeup of these assemblages. Wares 18, 19, and 21 were defined in the Magdalena Basin for Early and Middle Formative types, but only occur at Los Guachimontones in trace amounts in a few groups. The earliest radiocarbon date that appears to pertain to a Tequila II context centers just before 300 BC, suggesting that Tequila II begins circa 350–300 BC. Tabachines and Estolanos wares are assigned to Tequila II and III, and, combined, form 5 to 22 percent of the assemblages from the circles. Arroyo Seco ware is assigned to Tequila III and IV and occurs only as trace percentages in Circles 7 and 8. This would suggest only a limited Tequila III–IV occupation, but Arroyo Seco is geographically focused to the south and east of Los Guachimontones and these are likely imports. The higher percentages of Coarse Colorines ware in those circles thought to be late suggest an overall chronological trend toward higher percentages of that utilitarian ware, a process also seen at the site of Tabachines (Galván 1991). Any functional analysis must therefore take chronology into account to develop ceramic profiles for the architectural groups.

Interestingly, location may also be important for interpreting the relative proportions of different functionally distinct wares. As noted, Coarse Colorines wares make up higher percentages of assemblages from the later Tabachines tombs as the finewares drop out (Galván 1991). Conversely, the circles with the lowest percentages of Coarse Colorines ware are also the most centrally located. So we might suggest an indirect relationship in (p.88) which the earliest circles were generally the most centrally located circles, which in turn had a lower ratio of utilitarian activities.

Modes potentially provide a more refined understanding of chronology (Tables 2.4 and 2.5). Two rims that were identified solely in Tequila I–II contexts during the PAX project are Rims 23 (a tall jar neck) and 132 (a distinctive trapezoidal rim that led to a composite silhouette jar neck). Both are of low frequency and only occur together here in La Joyita A. Other occurrences are in Circles 2, 4, 6, La Joyita B, and Circle 1 Exterior Plaza. Based on their distribution within the Tabachines shaft tombs, oval vessels that have been pinched in at the sides, miniature vessels, and jar necks with a composite silhouette are all indicators of the Tequila II phase. Composite silhouette jar necks are widely distributed, but are most common in ER-1 and the Gran Plaza. The other two vessel types are probably specialized forms (occurring across Circles 3, 5, and 6), but all occur together in La Joyita A. Neckless jars (tecomates) showed no clear pattern at Tabachines, but may be Tequila II here at Los Guachimontones. Bowls with dimpled bases occur in Circles 1, 7, and La Joyita A and B, supporting the early date for those groups. Finally, late modes that are associated with Tequila III–IV at Tabachines are Rim 69 (from flaring bowls with a thickening on the interior lip), Rim 30 (Galván’s campana jar neck), and square vessels with rounded corners. Square vessels did not occur anywhere in our sample, but the rims occur together or in greater quantities in Circles 6 and 8, Ball-court 1, La Joyita A and B, the Gran Plaza, and in Circle 1 Exterior Plaza. The failure of these rims to co-occur outside of these groups may mean that they were associated with different activities, or that our sample sizes were too small. In the end, the chronological analysis of the bulk ceramic debris indicates that the architectural groups did not have neatly sequential and discrete occupations as between Circles 1 and 5 at Navajas (Beekman 2008). Rather, circles had longer and overlapping occupations, or perhaps multiple occupations separated by periods of disuse.

The ceramic analysis from the Loma Alta sector has advanced to the point where we can address issues of function and chronology in that part of the site (Table 2.6). First and most noticeably, there is no evidence for the wares associated with the Magdalena or Tequila I phases. This sector seems to have been occupied later. Typical wares from Tequila II and III are present in abundance. The best late marker at Tabachines and Navajas was Arroyo Seco, but it is nearly absent. The modes suffer from similar problems. Early modes are rare to absent, with only trace amounts of the tecomates and composite silhouette jar necks so widespread in the nuclear (p.89)

Table 2.6. Distribution of functionally distinct wares and selected modes in the Loma Alta sector, by architectural group

Loma Alta

Circle A

Circle B

Circles A and B

Circle E

Ballcourt 1

Ballcourt 2

WARES

Coarse Colorines as % of total

70

58

74

78

63

65

Fine Colorines as % of total

26

39

21

17

26

26

Arroyo Seco as % of total

1

0

1

0

0

0

Estolanos as % of total

3

2

3

2

4

7

Tabachines as % of total

1

1

1

3

8

1

Wares 18, 19, or 21 presence

MODES

Rim 23 Vertical olla neck (T I-II?) as % of all rims x 10

Rim 132 (T I-II) as % of all rims x 100

Rims 9, 34, 35, 139 + Other 31 Composite silhouette (T II) as % of all rims

12

12

3

Other 16 Pinched vessels (T II) in g

Other 34 Miniature vessels (T II) in g

Rims 5, 6, 68 neckless jar (T II?) as % of all rims

2

1

4

Base Form 2 Concave/dimpled base (T II-III) presence/absence

X

Rim 69 (T III-IV) as % of all rims x 10

14

67

38

111

39

Rim 30 Campana (T III-IV) as % of all rims x 100

1,255

444

Other 33 Square vessel with rounded corners (T III-IV) presence/absence

Source: Compiled by author.

Notes: Percentages of wares are based on weight. Mode frequencies are presented in a variety of percentages or modified percentages to best draw out the distinctions in quantities at the different architectural groups. Very rare attributes are shown in terms of presence/absence.

(p.90) sector. The late bowls (Rim 69) appear to be widespread in the public architectural groups, and the campana rim (Rim 30) jars are numerous but limited to the circles. It may be that the activities overall in Loma Alta were less ceremonial and more quotidian, to judge from the low occurrence of these special forms (compare Sumano and Englehardt, this volume).

In terms of functional differences, the Loma Alta circles share the variability present within the circles from the nuclear sector. On balance, however, the Loma Alta circles show an increase in Coarse Colorines at the expense of Estolanos and Tabachines wares, which might support a less ceremonial function or match the later chronological trend noted above. The small Circle B differs notably in the greater presence of the Fine Colorines ware, and the dearth of Tabachines and Estolanos wares still suggests a late date. The excavations into the platform shared by Circles A and B found its assemblage to be very close to that of Circle A in all respects, rather than presenting some intermediate mixture of the activities from both circles. The Circle E assemblage has more in common with domestic groups when modes are considered. The two ballcourts share very similar assemblages that differ notably from the ballcourts in the nuclear sector. Those in Loma Alta have much lower quantities of the utilitarian Coarse Colorines ware, and these numbers are also lower than found in the Loma Alta circles. Fine Colorines, Estolanos and Tabachines are more common in the Loma Alta ballcourts, and the latter two finewares are more frequent than seen in the Loma Alta circles. The Loma Alta ballcourt assemblages look more like that for the Gran Plaza in the nuclear sector. The relative relationship of ballcourts to circles is therefore quite different in Loma Alta, and the ballcourts may have been used for more socially competitive versions of the game, such as between lineages. Note that this distinction in activity does not correspond to the relative size of the courts within a larger hierarchy, but to their physical position within the overall site. The only proposed residential assemblage from Loma Alta is that from Patio IV, proposed as an elite residential group by different authors (Beekman 2016a, 2016b; Smith 2008) based on size and morphology. Its assemblage resembles a mixture of the other residential groups in its more numerous Colorines wares and less common finewares overall, but with a greater emphasis upon Fine over Coarse Colorines. An elite residence does seem very plausible on this basis, with fewer ritual wares and increased fancy serving vessels. What is notable is how this assemblage is very different from the other group defined as an elite residence by the early PAT excavators at the (p.91) Circle 1 Exterior Plaza. The latter is radically different from Patio IV, with a Coarse-to-Fine ratio of 7:1 compared to Patio IV’s 2:1. The latter is far more likely to have been an elite residence.

Figure and Figurine Debris

The figures and figurines are incorporated into the analysis in the same manner as the ceramic debris. Most fragments could be assigned to paste, and those that are chronologically sensitive can be used to date the architectural groups. For reasons of space, the detailed enumeration of figures and figurines by architectural group can be consulted in Beekman (in press). There are some discrepancies to work out—the very high percentage of Fine Colorines paste used for figurines in Circle 6, for example. But in brief, the figure-and-figurine debris data support Tequila II or III occupations in Circles 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10; La Joyita A and B; and Loma Alta Circles A, B, the shared A and B platform, Ballcourt 2, and Patio IV. Unfortunately, it is likely that this distribution is because figure and figurine fragments were pulled from the collection bags for these groups, but were not removed from the collections from other operations. Useful statistics will not be possible until the other collections have been reviewed more systematically. We can point out, however, that our analyses of ER-2, C1 Exterior Plaza, Talleres 1, Ballcourt 2 East Plaza, and three out of the four ballcourts found no figurines, and our analyses of La Joyita A and B found truly minuscule quantities when compared to the total volume of bags that were processed in the laboratory. We can propose on this basis that figurines commonly associated with household ritual may not have held this function at Los Guachimontones. Circle E’s lack of figurines, then, is in line with its other suggestions of domestic activity, while the presence of figurine and figure fragments in the Gran Plaza assemblage suggest that it had some distinct functions.

The combined ceramic and figurine debris add to the chronological assignment of the architectural groups, but two points must be kept in mind. First is that these materials came from activity contexts, and do not date the initial construction of the buildings. Second is that trace amounts of chronologically sensitive materials do not necessarily represent activity, but are rather materials that would have been disturbed or moved around in the course of normal community activities.

(p.92) Offerings/Burials

Although we had previously assessed the assignment of whole vessels and figurines from the PAT inventory to particular burials and caches, it was apparent that there were contradictions. Some vessels were attributed to different burials in the inventory than were attributed on labels stored directly with the vessel. In 2015, LeFae reviewed all of these items and compared them directly to the original excavation reports, using photographs, descriptions, and so on, to locate all items (LeFae 2015, 2017). The combined offerings from each cache or burial context were then evaluated to identify the phase(s) when all vessels could have been deposited together. For reasons of space, the specific offerings and burial assemblages can be consulted in Beekman (in press). Note that there are a few cases in which clearly intrusive materials are associated with the offering or burial, but there is insufficient information in the older PAT informes to clarify the nature of the intrusion. The contribution of these data to the chronology of the architectural groups can be summarized as follows:

Circle 1, Plaza Exterior (1 offering)—Tequila II.

Circle 3 (2 burials, 1 offering)—Occupation in Tequila III, with possible occupation in Tequila II and/or IV.

Circle 4 (1 in situ vessel)—Occupation unspecified, Tequila II–IV.

Circle 6 (5 tombs, 7 offerings)—Occupation in Tequila II and III–IV, and again in Atemajac I–II.

La Joyita A (3 burials, 3 offerings)—Occupation in Tequila II, with possible Tequila III–IV occupation.

Talleres 2 (2 offerings)—Occupation in Atemajac I–II.

Talleres 3 (7 burials, 1 offering)—Tequila II, possibly Tequila III and/or IV, El Grillo.

These assignments coincide with the evidence already discussed. Of the burials, tombs, offerings, and so on, reviewed, only two appear to have ceramics indicating contradictory phases—Circle 6: Tomb 2 and Talleres 3: Entierro 8. Both are considered to be much later intrusions of single vessels.

Stratigraphic Pits

Few stratigraphic columns were evident in the bag database at hand, and we selected cases in which two or more layers in stratigraphic order could be analyzed to test the relative order of ceramics, and to date occupational (p.93) activity in the different architectural groups. For reasons of space, the detailed results are not presented here but can be consulted in Beekman (in press).

Circle 1 (2 columns)—Occupation begins in Tequila II or III, occupied at least into Tequila III.

Circle 2 (2 columns)—Occupation in Tequila phase unspecified, but mixed layers include Tequila II–III materials.

Circle 3 (3 columns)—Occupation begins in Tequila II, ending unknown, but mixed layers include Tequila III–IV materials.

Circle 7 (4 columns)—Occupation begins in Tequila II or III, occupied at least into Tequila III.

Circle 8 (4 columns)—Occupation begins in Tequila II or III, occupied at least into Tequila III.

Circle 10 (1 column)—Occupation begins in Tequila II–III, no later.

Loma Alta, Circles A and B (1 column)—Occupation begins in Tequila III, ending unknown.

Loma Alta, Patio IV (3 columns)—Occupation in Tequila II and III, ending unknown.

In sum, we analyzed 20 stratigraphic sets with 65 layers. Nine sets show a total of 24 mixed stratigraphic layers (that is, including El Grillo or Atemajac in with earlier materials). Two sets (in Circles 7 and 8) show reversed layers with Atemajac phase materials below Tequila phase materials, although the excavation reports record no such disturbance. None shows contradictions with the proposed sequence of subphases within the Tequila phase. The additional contributions of the offerings and stratigraphic columns are incorporated into the stratigraphic chart and displayed in Figure 2.4.

Summary

The sequence for the nuclear and Loma Alta sectors is summarized in Figure 2.4. The chart generally shows sherd evidence for activity within many groups earlier than anticipated based on the radiocarbon dates for their construction. This may be due to the presence of settlement around the earliest groups long since demolished or buried underneath later constructions. The Tequila I phase is sparsely represented, and while no construction is known to have taken place this early, the distribution of Tequila I sherds suggests that a small settlement did exist. They interestingly form a (p.94)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.4a. Stratigraphic chart of the western part of the Nuclear Sector and the Talleres Sector, incorporating architectural stratigraphy, radiocarbon dates, ceramic and figurine debris, offerings, and stratigraphic columns. C14 date ranges are marked in the narrow columns between wider columns dedicated to the ceramic evidence. Each point of evidence for occupation during a particular phase (ware, mode, offerings, excavation evidence, etc.) adds an additional shade of gray for that phase block in the chart (compiled by the author).

(p.95)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.4b. Stratigraphic chart of the Nuclear Sector, incorporating architectural stratigraphy, radiocarbon dates, ceramic and figurine debris, offerings,and stratigraphic columns. C14 date ranges are marked in the narrow columns between wider columns dedicated to the ceramic evidence. Each point of evidence for occupation during a particular phase (ware, mode, offerings, excavation evidence,etc.) adds an additional shade of gray for that phase block in the chart (compiled by the author).

(p.96)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.4c. Stratigraphic chart of the eastern part of the Nuclear Sector, incorporating architectural stratigraphy,radiocarbon dates, ceramic and figurine debris, offerings,and stratigraphic columns.C14 date ranges are marked in the narrow columns between wider columns dedicated to the ceramic evidence. Each point of evidence for occupation during a particular phase (ware, mode, offerings, excavation evidence, etc.) adds an additional shade of gray for that phase block in the chart (compiled by the author).

(p.97)

The Early Segment of the Chronological Sequence at Los Guachimontones

Figure 2.4d. Stratigraphic chart of the Loma Alta Sector, incorporating architectural stratigraphy, radiocarbon dates, ceramic and figurine debris, offerings, and stratigraphic columns. C14 date ranges are marked in the narrow columns between wider columns dedicated to the ceramic evidence. Each point of evidence for occupation during a particular phase (ware, mode, offerings, excavation evidence, etc.) adds an additional shade of gray for that phase block in the chart (compiled by the author).

(p.98) continuous band at about the same elevation stretching from La Joyita A in the northwest, through Circle 4, Circle 2 and Ballcourt 1, and Circle 7 in the southeast, as well as ER-2. No remains from that phase have been identified within the Loma Alta Sector.

Tequila II marks the beginnings of major construction at the site, with a community perhaps expanding out of La Joyita A, which shows occupation from the very beginning of the phase. Construction followed in Circles 6, 7, 1, and probably 5. Ballcourt 1 was also constructed. The Gran Plaza and La Joyita B were probably built as well. In Loma Alta, the large residential group Patio IV and the small Circle B formed the nucleus for later settlement.

Tequila III is the greatest period of occupation at the site until the Late Postclassic. There are new offerings in Circle 6, occupation in La Joyita B, construction of Circles 2 and 3, and some activity in Circles 5, 10, and 8. All those architectural groups from Loma Alta that have been studied to date were built by this time, and Patio IV continued in use. In Tequila IV, the primary evidence is in Circle 8, although there may also have been activity in La Joyita B, Circle 7, and Loma Alta Circle B.

In summary, the data suggest a process in which a modest residential occupation preceded the construction of ceremonial architecture in the nuclear sector. The first evidence in the Loma Alta sector is also residential, but it is later and begins with a very large residence in the Patio IV group. The occupations in both nuclear and Loma Alta sectors peaked in Tequila III, and lack much evidence of the final Tequila IV phase, indicating that there is some problem with Tequila IV, or that the Los Guachimontones site declined precipitously while the Teuchitlán culture continued in other areas. Although there will be additional analyses in the future to consider, we can use this sequence to propose new models for the foundation of the site of Los Guachimontones.

Acknowledgments

I wish to thank Verenice Heredia and Josh Englehardt for their invitation to participate in the first inaugural Simposio sobre la Arqueología del Occidente en Mesoamérica, held at the Colegio de Michoacán in September 2015. Thanks are due to Catherine Johns, Naomi Ripp, Jones LeFae, Valerie Simard, Patricia Alonzo, Kim Sumano Ortega, David Arturo Muñiz García, Nichole Abbott, and Tony DeLuca for their work on the Los Guachimontones collections. Juan José Cortés Guzmán has worked tirelessly to put the (p.99) PAT collections into searchable format and deserves special recognition. My thanks also go to Verenice Heredia for her invitation to be involved in working with the PAT materials. Financial support came from the University of Colorado–Denver, and permission came from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

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Notes:

(1.) Note that this date was originally reported as 1710±40 BP, but the Beta Analytic datasheets say it should be 1960±50 BP. The former was the age determination prior to applying the C13 correction, and the calibration was mistakenly run on the wrong figure in Beekman and Weigand 2008. This was a critical date, as it extended site occupation later than other sources indicated.