Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Fragments of identity: A Study of Ceramic Figurines from the Terminal Formative Period in the Lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico Public Deposited

  • This thesis is a descriptive study of 143 ceramic figurines from two different sites in the Coastal region of Oaxaca, Mexico, occupied during the Terminal Formative period (150BC-AD250). The site of Río Viejo operated as a large ceremonial center in the Lower Río Verde Valley during the Terminal Formative Period and attracted people from surrounding communities during large-scale rituals (Barber & Joyce 2015; Joyce 2016). The second site, Cerro de la Virgen, was a contemporary hilltop community in the region (Joyce et al. 2013). By studying ceramic figurines from two sites in this period, regional patterns can be discerned. Studying the aesthetics, uses and manufacture methods of figurines from the two sites enhances understanding of the regional patterns and differences in the Lower Río Verde Valley during the Terminal Formative Period. Between the two sites, there are some overarching trends in iconography, like the ubiquity of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, but each site has its own unique canon of figurines. Intensive examination of regional patterns of ceramic figurines within this period at the two sites will aide future archaeologists in establishing a regional figurine typology. A rigorous analysis of ceramic figurines from both sites will promote a clearer picture of their ritual value and meaning, and provide further insights into the ongoing questions of local and regional identities in the face of political interactions during the Terminal Formative Period (Joyce 2010). The first chapter of this thesis provides a regional background of the Lower Río Verde Valley, followed by a methods section. Chapter two focuses on figurines from the site of Río Viejo, providing an artifact catalogue of the figurine sample from the site, a description of the different subtypes at the site, and concludes with a quantitative data section. Chapter three follows the same structure as chapter two, but specifically addresses figurines from the site of Cerro de la Virgen. The fourth and final chapter is the conclusion where the findings in this study will be reviewed while comparing the figurine samples from each site. The final chapter ends with concluding statements about Terminal Formative Period figurines from the Lower Río Verde Valley, followed by a postulation of the future implications of this work.
Date Awarded
  • 2018-01-01
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2019-12-02
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