PhD candidate / guest
“Ceramic Sequence in pre-Hispanic Chontales, Nicaragua: Connecting Pottery Traditions, Stratigraphy, and Time”
Pre-Hispanic Central Nicaraguan pottery has been a challenge for researchers trying to grasp a general understanding of the region’s development and its interactions with other areas within Nicaragua, such as the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, as well as Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama. Although a ceramics sequence was established at the end of the 1980’s (Gorin 1989, Espinoza & Rigat 1992), it needs an urgent re-evaluation; since the investigations that followed Gorin’s work have arisen interpretation and chronological issues that require a new approach to the ceramics of the area. In addition to an innovative perspective to analyze ceramics, it is also necessary to develop a comprehensive study plan based on clear research questions, specifically focused in the developments of ceramics technologies at a regional scale. For that reason, this research program started with a systematic survey, followed by stratigraphic excavations, and a ceramic analysis using a technological approach, specifically applying the premises defined by the Chaîne opératoire (Leroi-Gourhan 1971, Grace 1997, Roux & Courty 1998, 2007, Roux 2010) combined with the Ware Approach (Popenoe de Hatch 1993, 2007, Daneels 1988, 1996, 2002). Traditionally, ceramics analyses and classifications in the area have focused on type-variety as well as modal traits, so a technological approach is necessary in order to grasp the different processes involved in ceramics production and consumption. This work will be combined with ethnographic observations of potters throughout Central Nicaragua and archeometry. Finally, we will compare our typology to other regions in Nicaragua, as well as Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama, so as to build a regional scale perspective on the ceramics traditions’ dynamics in Lower Central America.
Natalia Donner is an Argentinian/Mexican archaeologist who obtained a BA at Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico) and then a Masters in Mesoamerican Studies at UNAM (Mexico).
Since 2003, she participated in several archaeological projects in the Mexican Gulf Coast; and between 2008 and 2011 she directed Proyecto Arqueológico El Carrizal, in South-Central Veracruz. Through that project, she made contributions to the regional ceramic sequence, settlement patterns history, as well as implemented a public archaeology program. In addition, her team excavated and conserved the earliest ball court in Veracruz, dated for the end of the Proto-Classic (100 B.C. – 100 A.D.) and the beginning of the Early Classic (100 – 300 A.D.).
Later, she collaborated at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where she researched a ceramic collection from Isla Pedro Gonzalez, Las Perlas Archipelago. After that, she worked for the Education Department at Frank Gehry’s Biodiversity Museum in Panama, where she focused on developing school materials related to archaeology and engaged in the teacher training program. Currently, she is part of Dr. Alexander Geurds Central Nicaragua Project, where she is working to re-define the ceramic sequence of Chontales.