Ceramics and Social Change. The Impact of the Spanish Conquest on Middle America´s Material Culture.
08 / 2006 - 07 / 2010
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
At the heart of this proposal lies the convolution of cultural contact, conflict and symbiosis. Middle America, particularly Mexico, is an ideal region for studying this topic. The Spanish conquest (1521) resulted in a complex, and enduring interaction between Aztecs, Mixtecs, Mayas and numerous other indigenous peoples on the one hand, and Spaniards, on the other. The colonisation had a profound impact on the ancient native civilisations, and created new social systems in which both the indigenous and Spanish worlds coexisted and influenced each other over centuries till today. This process obviously led also to new cultural forms. The project focuses on the ways in which archaeological remains, concretely ceramics, reflect historical and social processes of this magnitude and complexity. Combining in an innovative way archaeological and historical data together with advanced methods of the natural sciences, it wants to achieve a better understanding of how the changes in the ceramic record (from the late precolonial to the early colonial period) are related to the social dynamics and interaction of different ethnic and cultural elements in post-conquest society. Specifically, well-developed methods of the archaeoceramological analysis will be applied to explore the effects of that extraordinary, and well-documented, social transformation on the technique, morphology and decoration of ceramics. The results are expected to sharpen the possibilities of archaeological interpretation of the ceramic record elsewhere. Keywords: Archaeology, archaeoceramological analysis, social change, cultural interaction, material culture.