2500 Years of Pottery: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Investigation of Domestic Ceramic Production at Caleta Vitor Archaeological Complex, Northern Chile

Author: Catherine Bland

Bland, Catherine, 2017 2500 Years of Pottery: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Investigation of Domestic Ceramic Production at Caleta Vitor Archaeological Complex, Northern Chile, Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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This thesis presents an investigation of production processes of domestic ceramics excavated from the Caleta Vitor Archaeological Complex, northern Chile, via a multidisciplinary approach employing standard ceramic recording as well as mineral and elemental analyses. The Caleta Vitor ceramic assemblage spans approximately 2500–70 years BP allowing for inferences to be made about changes/continuities in pottery production. During this 2500 year period northern Chile saw the rise, consolidation and ‘collapse’ of two great Andean Empires—the Tiwanaku and Inka as well as local developments. The nature of interactions/influences from these Andean polities in northern Chile has been the subject of debate. The identification of highland influences in northern Chile has largely been restricted to the presence or absence of prestigious objects bearing stylistic features associated with highland polities largely excavated from mortuary contexts. However, the number of studies that have approached the subject of highland influences by analysing material from domestic contexts (e.g., ceramics and textiles) has been growing in recent years. The analysis of domestic material culture provides an additional perspective from which to assess the presence or absence (as well as the degree) of highland influences on northern Chilean societies. This thesis contributes to such studies and provides a unique case study of the ceramic production processes at a local-level. The results of this thesis highlight the stability and continuity of ceramic production processes over a 2500 year period despite increasing external pressures. Whilst there is evidence at the Caleta Vitor Archaeological Complex for contact with highland populations (e.g., rock art depictions and snuffing paraphernalia), this contact did not affect this sphere of material cultural production. The results of this thesis support the findings of other similar studies which highlight local dynamics and transformations. Further, this thesis supports the growing consensus that acknowledges the potential for local populations of northern Chile to be active agents who did not passively accept external influences.

Keywords: Northern Chile, Ceramics, Andes, Archaeometry

Subject: Archaeology thesis, Humanities thesis, Creative Arts thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Amy Roberts