Early pottery in the amazon a correction


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Early pottery in the amazon a correction

  1. 1. Society for American Archaeology Early Pottery in the Amazon: A Correction Author(s): Denis Williams Source: American Antiquity, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr., 1997), pp. 342-352 Published by: Society for American Archaeology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/282516 . Accessed: 10/07/2011 20:02 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=sam. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Society for American Archaeology is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Antiquity. http://www.jstor.org
  2. 2. EARLYPOTTERY IN THE AMAZON: A CORRECTION Denis Williams Based on subtnission firmns anid other documents deposited in the SmiiithsontianiIntstitltioni archives onl terminationt of the Snmithsonian Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory in 1986, AnntiaRoosevelt atrgues that shell miiiddentsontthe coast of Guyana and niortheastern Brazil contain potterv, and that the dates ssupport her argumtenit that "Amazonian ear/v pottery is the mtiost securel/ dated ear/v pottery in the New World" (1995:128). Penidinigpublication of a detailed miioniograph,I maintain that the Guyana sites in question are preceranuic and thus offer 1to suipport to Roosevelt'v thesis. Tomiianidoconio base los formtiularios de entrega v otros documentos depositados eni el archivo de la Smiiithsonian Institition cuando se cerr6 el Laboratorio de Fechados Radiocarb6nicos en11986, AntitaRoosevelt sostiente que los conchales existelntes en la costa de GuYana ! el noreste de Brasil conitienen ceraimica, Ytp/0 lo tanito los fechados de estos sitios corroboran su argtutmentode qle "la cerchnica temtipr(aniade Amazl-onfatienie los fechados mas confiables del Nuevo Mundo" (1995:128). Eni vista de la deniora enipublicar la evidencia detallada, qiuiero hacer constar que esos sitios son1 preceramnicos Ypor tantto los fechados no apovant las interpretacionies de Roosevelt. In an article entitled "Early Pottery in the Amazon:TwentyYearsof ScholarlyObscurity" included in The Emergence of Potterv, pub- lished by the SmithsonianInstitutionPress,Anna Rooseveltallegesthat"sincetheearly 1970s,sites in easternAmazoniahave consistentlyproduced numerousradiocarbondatesfor potterythatareas old as or olderthanthose fromotherpartsof the Americas,"butthat"thesepotentiallyrevolutionary dateswereconsignedto obscuritywithoutexplana- tion"(1995:115-116, 119, 128).Roosevelt'sasser- tionsarebasedon excavators'noteson submission formsforsamplesfromshellmiddensonthecoasts of GuyanaandBrazilprocessedon differentocca- sions by the Smithsonian RadiocarbonDating Laboratory.In supportof hercontentionthat"the age of potterybegan 7,500 yearsago, more than 1,500 years earlierthan elsewhere in the hemi- sphere"(1995:115),Rooseveltcites 13datesfrom shell middensexcavatedby MarioSim6es on the coastof Brazileastof themouthof theAmazonand 18datesfrommy excavationsatAlaka-phasesites in northwesternGuyana(Figure1). Sincetheexcavators'noteson someof thesub- missionformsindicatethatthesampleswereasso- ciated with pottery,Roosevelt (1995:120) rejects published statements by Sim6es (1981) and Williams(1981) andevaluatesthe datesas prece- ramic,incorrectlyassertingthat"preceramiccul- tureshave not yet been scientificallydocumented at these sites." Morethanthis, Roosevelt asserts thatnone of the excavationswas takento sterile soil andpredictsthateven earlierdatesforpottery can be expectedif this weredone (1995:120).As similar radiocarbon and thermoluminescence resultswereobtainedon hersamplesof charcoal, shell, and pottery (1995:122), Roosevelt argues that they must be correct, making "Amazonian early pottery . .. the most securely dated early pot- teryin theNew World"(1995:128). Alaka Phase of the Western Guiana Littoral Rooseveltdid notconsultwithme concerningthe reliabilityof the associationsof the Smithsonian radiocarbondateswith potteryattributionson the relevantsample submissionforms, nor does she cite preliminaryarticlesof minepublishedin 1982 and 1992thatdiscuss severalof them.Therefore, pendingpublicationof a monographplacingall of these dates in context, I consider it essential to Denis Williams * Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, P.O. Box 10187, Georgetown, Guyana American Antiquity, 62(2), 1997, pp. 342-352. Copyright e by the Society for American Archaeology 342
  3. 3. COMMENTS 343 warn readers that investigations carried out in the three large shell midden complexes of northwest- ern Guyana during the past decade and more do not support Roosevelt's interpretations of data from Guyana. Our chronology of the Alaka phase', defined in Evans and Meggers (1960), is now based on 37 radiocarbon dates obtained from samples of shell, bone, and peat assayed by Beta Laboratories as well as by the Smithsonian Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory. They derive from 14 of the 30 shell middens on the Western Guiana Littoral. I judge the resulting cultural sequence reliable by virtue of its compatibility with independent evidence for (1) differential tectonic subsidence in the area, (2) two well-defined marine incursions contemporary with a palynologically evidenced arid episode in Amazonia at ca. 4000 B.P., (3) culmination of the eustatic sea level rise around 6000 B.P. and its topographic consequences in swamps lying at about mean sea level, and, (4) pollen and diatom analyses that permit correlating cultural behavior with changes in local vegetation and ambient salinities. Barabina Hill Radiocarbon dates cited by Roosevelt are from Barabina, Hosororo Creek, Kabakaburi, and Seba Creek. The first three are shell middens, but of these only Hosororo Creek contains early pottery. Barabina and Kabakaburi are preceramic. Seba Creek is not an archaeological site. Excavator's notes accompanying submission of peat samples from Seba to the Smithsonian Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, and examined by Anna Roosevelt, read: Peat deposit believed to have been formed duringlaterstage of sea level rise which termi- natedca. 6000 B.P. Importanceof datingthe sample: Reconstructionof ecological conditionsper- taining to growthof the Barabinashell midden by supplyingdates for stages in a pollen profile and column sample of diatoms being analyzed by the Hugo de VriesLaboratorium,University of Amsterdam, under Prof. Th. van der Hammen;and correlationof these results with dates alreadyobtainedforthe middleandupper levels of the Barabinashell midden.Also con- tributeto a better understandingof the Holo- cene sea level rise on this partof the coast of SouthAmerica. I tS t;l~~~ .41. Alaka VENEZP L4j Mb 2.PedraPktada ~.GY 3.Taperinha . 4. 3. Figure 1. Sites of the Alaka phase in the lower Aruka Basin. These shell middens were all excavated previ- ous to my investigations: Barabina by Osgood (1946) and Verrill (1918), Hosororo Creek by Evans and Meggers (1960), and Kabakaburi by Brett (1868:434) and im Thum (1883:413). Contrary to Roosevelt's assertions (1995:121), all three Barabina excavations were taken to the base of the cultural deposit, which is reached at a depth of 1.4 m. Verrill (1918:13) reports that Excavations were carriedon in the form of deep pits penetrating the shell deposits and reachingthe subsoil beneath, and also by long trenches carriedto the depth of the shells and extending completely across the mound. Near the surface many fragments of plain and poorly-madepotterywere foundandthese con- tinuedto the bottomof the shell deposits. In the matter of sherd distributions within the shell deposit, the information provided by Verrillis incorrect. The shell midden is overlain by a layer of dark brown humus (Zone i), 5 to 16 cm thick and
  4. 4. 344 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 62, No. 2, 1997] containing refuse of the horticulturist Koriabo and Apostaderan phases. This fact is recorded in my preliminary report, which was cited by Roosevelt (Williams 1981:16, 18, Figure 10). Roosevelt asserts (1995:120), "According to Williams' article and the Smithsonian submission forms, the dated material came from layers and features that con- tained the plain sherds of sand-tempered Alaka pottery."Here, I'm afraid, Roosevelt is thoroughly confused. Barring the "few plain sherds" men- tioned by the late Clifford Evans on my submission forms, there is no pottery of any description in the shell deposit on Barabina Hill (Williams 1981:Figure 10, Zone ii). These plain (Koriabo and Apostadero) sherds had intruded from the overly- ing humus layer (Zone i) by mechanical mixing, a fact that had not yet been published and of which Evans was therefore unaware in writing his cover- ing memo to the laboratory in 1980. The article nowhere mentions "sand-temperedAlaka pottery." Sand-tempered pottery was first manufactured anywhere on the WesternGuiana Littoralonly with the occupation of Hosororo Creek around 3975 B.P. (Williams 1992:243). Roosevelt is discussing a time span between 6885 and 4115 B.P. for the preceramic Barabina midden, some 4 km distant. The relatively late date for Hosororo Creek and the uniqueness of the refuse, Caribbean oyster, Crassostrea rhizophorae (Guild), accompanying initial manufacture of sand-tempered pottery there suggest that the area had already been abandoned by its traditional shellfishers, whose refuse had comprised predominantly the zebra nerite (Puperita pupa), the common blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), and some estuanrnecatfish, e.g., gilbacker (Silurus sciadeichthys) and cuirass (Arius spixi), these latterassociated with numerous line-sinkers on amphibole schist, the prevailing rock material of the Aruka Hills. On the issue of potsherds in the Barabina shell midden, Osgood (1946:49), an incomparably more reliable observer than Verrill, noted: Excavationwascarriedon intwenty-fivecen- timeter depths. No sherds were found below twenty-fivecentimeters.Below seventy-fivecen- timeters,the trenchwas narrowedto one meter andthencarrieddown to a depthof two meters. Betweenone andone andone quartermetersthe compositionwas almostpureshell .... Below one andone half meters. .. we struckpurered- dish yellow clay. In lightof my own andOsgood'sreports,both cited by Roosevelt, her assertion(1995:120) that "[b]othVerrilland Williamsfound potteryin all levels" of the Barabinaexcavationscould not be further from the truth. While acknowledging Osgood'sestimateof theBarabinamiddenas pre- ceramic,Roosevelt (1995:121) cautions:"Hedid not use screens when excavating."On the other hand,in ourfive yearsof excavationof this mid- den, the recoveryof around100 burialsenforced the use of 5- and 10-mmscreens throughoutfor smallbones,teeth,etc.As regardsceramicdistrib- utions within the mound, our results were the sameas Osgood's. In these very extensive excavations, which involvedtrenchingthe middenon its long diame- ter supportedby 11 radialchannelstakento the featheredge of the deposit(Williams1981:Figure 2), thebaseof theshellwasencounteredata depth of 1.4 m, thoughthe manyburialsin the residual clay of the hilltopenforcedexcavationto a depth of 2.0 m throughoutthe grid. Like Osgood, I observedpotsherdsonly in the uppermost35 cm of the deposit (Williams 1981:31). Barabinais unquestionably preceramic, with horticulturist pottery confined to the overlying humus. The inceptionof the moundhas been datedat 6,885? 85 B.P. (SI 5075) and its abandonmentshortly after4115 ? 50 B.P.(SI 4332). Hosororo Creek HosororoCreekis abiculturaldeposit65 cm thick containing potsherds throughout.Very simple, shell- andsand-temperedpottery(as well as a few clay, charcoal,and cariape-temperedspecimens) occursin the lowerhalf,overlying 15 cm of shell sand.Thisshellsandrepresentsa marineincursion duringa periodof sustainedreducedprecipitation and a lowered watertable. Its depositionappar- ently was associatedwith the arid intervalevi- dencedelsewhereinAmazonia,forexampleSeba Creek,around4000 B.P. (Absy 1982, 1985; van derHammen1974;Williams1992)(Figure2). Because of difficultiesinherentin the use of shell as a nonplasticadditivein ceramicmanufac- ture(Budak1991;Goodyear1971;Shepard1976; Rye 1981),theearliestpotteryatHosororoCreek, which was temperedwith crushedshells of the zebraneritesalvagedfromfoodrefuse(Figure3a), was extremelyinefficient.Porousand tendingto
  5. 5. COMMENTS 345 cm 0 I20 go 60 =___=-- 1 o 0 1.01 4!CU2 E-A 0Z^X000Y000R g ~~~~~~~~x4890.?55B.P. 1 [ 1-20- ^20 -- G20 c.ol I r MASARUMA~ ~ ~ ~~~~~ : U (EAC.)MSRUA AT RIL 190~~~~tnslTl 1N 50tsr Gr1Zy--1&1111 ,11B11solSl wttrot Finewatewaorogray-blocksoad )83400 cmI coatalaigwaerwornpebbles Diatom "Mvr_100-12u cm Commnutedmarinsshell 6 Diolomsample 100128 12 6bCkwoodroot Rock Finegraysilt fmmthick. 30cm beeath seashell laye CoaswIFn Wworn gray-black sand containingwaterwrn pebble Figure 2. Stratigraphic profile of Seba Creek. meltwhenwashed,thispotteryfissuredalongcoil junctionsorverticallythroughbodywallswithdry- ing (Figure 3b). Remedial measures included reducingthe grain size of the crushedshell and thus increasingthe volume of temperin a given paste, scoring the interior and exterior of the leather-hardvessel walls (Figure 3c), and using slips (Figure 3d). Therecalcitranceof shellas a temperingmater- ialwasthecauseof continualexperimentationwith alternative clays and tempering materials at HosororoCreek.Verysoona sand-temperedpaste, referred to as Sand Creek Plain (to which Roosevelt mistakenly refers in discussing the Barabinamidden) was developed. However, as withthemica-temperedspecimenshowninFigure 3e, resultscontinuedto varyuntilthe adventof a new ceramictechnologyandthe abruptintroduc- tionof sophisticatedBarrancoidpotteryassociated with a wide arrayof new vessel shapes.Evidence of the new technologywas theapparentdeliberate crushingand sifting of selectedrock materialsto serveas nonplasticadditivesin ceramicmanufac- ture,includingdecayed graniteexfoliationsfrom the upperWaini River and nodules of decayed steatitefroma remotemine on the upperBarama River.Both sites being highly inaccessibleacross the swamps,even to its traditionalinhabitants,the incorporationof thesetemperingmaterialsin their diagnosticpotteryimpliesthevoluntaryabsorption of the migrantsinto the age-oldtradenetworkof theswamps.Theenhancedelasticityaccruingfrom the new steatite-temperedpaste permitted the incorporationof large,modeleddecorativemotifs inceramicdesign,andthistraitwouldcharacterize the furtherdevelopmentof Barrancoidpotteryon thelowerOrinocoRiver(see Lathrap1966:564)as well as onthelowerArukaRiver.Steatitehasbeen documentedas a nonplasticadditive in ceramic industrieson the lower Orinoco River from the timeof its firstdateduse atBarrancas,around590 B.C. on to thedemiseof theCoporitosubphaseof the Barrancoidtradition,which has been placed (Sanoja0. 1979:193)atA.D. 1345. On Lathrap's (1966) evidence fromthe Saladerosite, initiation of theimpliedtradein thisrockmaterialmayhave predatedthesixthcenturyB.C. The inceptionof theFormativeBarrancoidtra- ditionatHosororoCreekpredated3,550 ? 65 B.P. (Beta 20007). The congruenceof this date with
  6. 6. 346 AMERICANANTIQUITY lVol. 62, No. 2, 19971 a b c1 | | F.u;,g ,. . . _ _ --gEw '--.;:.:.; S . !| | li _ t s .W.s. ,.^ *.t .. v. E I li| 2':A- :-_ __,'''i''__ I _s, . _' w_ _;. I __g _. . _{:. ' s___as _. s .- . . I__ _.: . Se ......................................................................_ t' 1N_ .. l . _ _. I I _1N ;_. _ . _ gfi. _V' i I _w _ I 10 E _-.*so.Xurs . S . l __lJIlS3>;9-t'ss'x'- _1 l _st$sx^,>X". !: _ lliSt'-B_W il 1 S | _-RP_ ,'l_*.;3_X..'t'' - tfg__.. l ! __>:Ss' t_- i SS11 S8 | | !,, . l!!! - 3 - I 111 1 ?1 ? _Tl 1' - >' * * ' '@ 5ts;Wq '.; B*V3 XtVleS vSst Mi}&,%^%HeXc a _v .t.t-.0<sagsB-i 9< ?e 1 S -W3FE""04 '; :'" ' ' s e * - '' ; io l i _aefWxt$e/. . ? . . * ' ' vs * - <' - f t w1X?,, ., vs, . : w=^1? ,, | Ns'.*e. <@XSii v; o. -. he-@2; e. 3 ; > 't ", 4{ e 4 .. * 1__S_S;__ * - - - | <t 0 I-|---a S | , Xa i J__;a_ >-- | gr. . t . . 11, '1". z i ? . - . . _ _ d e.w __r B Figure3. Earlypotteryat HosororoCreekshowingNeriteshelltemper(a), fissuringwhendry (b),interior/exterior scoringas a measureto counterporosity(c), use of slips,anothermeasureto counterporosity(d), andfissuringin a sandtemrodehfird 'a'F_ _ a _ > ,. Roosevelt's Formativehorizonat the Cavema da Pedra Pintada on the left bank of the lower Amazon suggests that the two events may have relatedto the onset of fresheningconditionsanda graduallyamelioratingenvironmentmarkingthe end of the indicatedaridinterval.On theevidence fromHosororoCreek,it wasatimeof fallingsalin- ity levels in thecoastalzone, indicatinga returnto normal river regimes. The brackish or marine shellfishspecies thathadconstitutedthe dominant proteinresourceslocally duringthe arid interval now disappearedabruptly.Inthis situationof envi- ronmentalstress,the suddenintrusionof horticul- turistson the lowerArukais probablyattributable to a dispersaldowntheOrinocoof Proto-Northern MaipuranArawaksout of a hearthsomewhereon the upperRio Negro duringthe immediatelypre- cedingcenturies.Barrancoidpotteryexhibitingthe distinctivetraitof crushedgranitetemper,occur- ring soon afterwardsat KurupukariFalls on the upperEssequiboRiver,2910 ? 80 B.P.,Cal B.C. 1315-890 (Beta76246), mayrepresentthedisper- sal of Proto-EastemMaipuranArawaksdown the Amazon(Rouse 1985). KabakaburiHill The Kabakaburimidden,locatedbeside Hospital Creek on the upper Pomeroon River, was first excavated by Brett, who reported (1868:439), "Fragmentsof Indianpotterywere found among the layers of shells aboutfour feet from the sur- face." Kabakaburiwas again investigatedby im Thurn(1883:413)who didnotrecordits contents. These referenceswere both includedin the sub- mission forms accompanyingcharcoal samples assayed by the SmithsonianRadiocarbonDating Laboratoryand examined by Roosevelt, who, while citing the dates(4890 ? 75 B.P.and4215 ? 70 B.P.), does not acknowledge this record of apparentearlypottery,so appositeto herconcern with "pottery-age shell middens" in coastal Guyana(Roosevelt 1995:116).
  7. 7. COMMENTS 347 *. :^' :.. .; i, -;,414 si /? _A*.-S ... l,ft _' '. ,?. .. ;'. i.>.S _i - SX S i _ i s _ .. '.'.,' ,,'fl, l fl . _ *, .,, I _ _ t i- W . iH; Hi ...... ... a s _ .. _ ... - s'tt' -_ ': . E __v_P Figure 4. Excavation of the Waramuri shell midden. My own excavations at Kabakaburi,the first since im Thum's, revealed Brett to have dug, unaware,into a horticulturistrefusepit, around1 m deepand 1.5 m wide. Therefore,the "smalland few" sherdshe encounteredthere,along with two silver trinkets, were intrusive. Like Barabina, Kabakaburiis unquestionablypreceramic, and, like Barabina,its excavationwas takento sterile soil. Thetworadiocarbondatescitedby Roosevelt derived from 90 cm and 80-100 cm depths, respectively.The site was first occupied around 5340 ? 100 B.P.(Beta32188) basedon a charcoal sampletakenat 140-cm depth.A dateof 7,230 ? 90 B.P.,basedon a charcoalsampletakenat 130- cm depth (Beta 27055) from the nearbyPiraka shell middenrepresentsthe earliestknownseden- tary occupation of the WesternGuiana Littoral. Kabakaburiyieldeda wealthof stonetools associ- ated with the rise of the dugout canoe industry. This profoundly important cultural advance resultedfrom drasticchanges in waterlevel and water quality as run-off cumulativelyovercame the marineinfluence in the southeasternswamp basin in the centuriesimmediatelyfollowing on the peakof the eustaticsea level rise. Soon after- ward,partsof theAntilleswerecolonized.Levisa, on Cuba,datesat5140 ? 170 B.P.(GD 356). Seba Creek Threedatesassignedto theBarabinashell midden (Roosevelt 1995:Figure 10.1) are unassociated with any culturalmaterials.They derivedfrom a nonculturaldepositof peatat Seba Creek,around 5 km distant.As shown in the above quotation fromthesubmissionforms,samplingthispeatwas directed to reconstructingecological conditions pertainingto thegrowthof theBarabinashellmid- den by providingdates for the associatedpollen diagram.Forlaboratorypurposes,theseSebasam- ples wereidentifiedby thename"Barabina."This
  8. 8. 348 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 62, No. 2, 1997] was not indicatedon the submissionforms; all borethe samecoordinates. Mina Phase on the Western Guiana Littoral Apartfrom the HosororoCreekdeposit,none of the 14 shell middens excavated so far on the WesternGuiana Littoralcan by any means be describedaspottery-ageshellmiddens.All butone are preceramic.All but the midden at Koriabo PointontheBarimaRiver,life threateninglyunsta- ble below 4.0 m due to cascadingNerite shells, were taken to sterile soil. Figure 4 shows the Waramuriprofile.Inallcases,refusederivingfrom thesubsistenceroundwasrelatedtoenvironmental change in a highly unstablecoastal zone. Seven culturallyimportantoscillations in the swamps commencinga thousandyearsbeforetheculmina- tion of the sea level rise and ending with recent indicationsof salinizationof thegroundwaterhave beenidentifiedanddated.OurAlakachronologyis tiedto theseenvironmentaloscillations. Culturallyandchronologically,middensof the Alaka phase appearto relateto preceramicshell middencomplexeslocatedalongtheoldlittoralline of northernSouth America, commencing with Piraka and proceeding via Banwari Trace on Trinidadwith progressivelydiminishingantiquity northwestwardalongtheVenezuelancoastas faras El Heneal(Harris1976:37-40;HoffmanandLynch 1990:166;Wilson1991:149).Ontheotherhand,the characteristicsof the potteryfromthe lateArchaic midden at HosororoCreek unequivocallyattest affiliationtotheArchaicMinaphaseatthemouthof the Amazon,where identicalpotterywas already beingmadeatleastby 3000B.C.(Simoes 1981). The southto northtime gradientsuggestedby the relationshipbetween the potteryof the Mina phase and the technologicallyand typologically similar pottery of Hosororo Creek obviously wouldhavea bearingon thequestionof theorigin anddisseminationof tropicalforestculturein the lowlands(Steward1949:762;MeggersandEvans 1957:604), if it could be establishedby excava- tions at a few intermediatesites. In the persistent absenceof such supportingevidence,particularly along the Essequibo corridor,the recency and aberrancyof Hosororo Creek on the Western Guiana Littoralneed to be kept in mind when attempting to evaluate Roosevelt's claim (1995:120) thatdatesof "theAlakapotteryphase ... overlapsubstantiallywith the Minadatesbut extend back about 400 years earlier."In fact, Roosevelt's "Alaka pottery phase" is unrepre- sentedat any site on theWesternGuianaLittoral. Further,by virtueof its latedateanddemonstrable affiliationto the Mina phase, HosororoCreek's placein theAlakaphasemustnow be questioned. That the prehistoryof the Western Guiana Littoralis of significanttime depthhas long been known from the recoverythere of certainlarge, stemmedprojectilepointsthoughtto representthe early Andean hunting-collecting tradition, i.e., around7000 B.C. (Willey 1971:60;see alsoEvans andMeggers1960:21;Roth 1924:170,Plate36a). Ourcontinuingexcavationshave recovereddated evidenceof sedentaryoccupationthere(theprece- ramic Piraka shell mound) around 5000 B.C. Notwithstandingthese long, sedentary occupa- tions, the earliestpotteryto appearanywhereon the GuyanaCoast dates only around2000 B.C. There, this potteryis known from but a single site-Hosororo Creek-and at this site the diag- nosticshelltemperingrepresentsonlyone(theear- liest) of severalkindsof clay body experimented with by shellfishersover a periodof perhaps200 years. Following this, first farmers from the OrinocoRiverintrudedatthisuniquesiteandthere introducedtheincisedandmodeledceramicsof the Barrancoidtradition.Theceramicinventoryof the newcomersincludedthemaniocgriddle.Atadepth of 20 cm below the surfaceof the ground,their refusehasbeendatedat 1600B.C. (Beta20007). Peacefulintegrationof theseOrinocanhorticul- turistswiththeArchaicshellfishersis indicatedby theimmediateaccessof theformerto thestrategic resourcesof the swampbasin,notablycertaindis- tantandvaluabletraditionalclays and tempering materials.Inthestressedenvironment,thebenefits of maniochorticulturewouldappearto havebeen anadequateeconomicreturnon accessto theage- old tradenetworkof the swamps.In the ensuing mergingof ceramictechnologies,Amazonianand Orinocan,thevariousexperimentalclaybodiesof theArchaicshellfisherswereadoptedby thehorti- culturistnewcomersin the productionof the dis- tinctivepotteryof theFormativeMabarumaphase. Seven of the eight ceramictypes thathave been characterizedas constitutingtheMabarumaphase (EvansandMeggers1960)derivedfromthismar- riageof convenienceon thelowerArukaRiver.
  9. 9. COMMENTS 349 Table 1. HosororoCreek(Crassostrea rhizophorae/level). Level (cm) n Mean (mm) Range (mm) 70-80 36 35.5 15-82 80-90 70 41.4 16-82 90-100 140 37.3 17-87 100-110 141 36.0 11-82 110-120 66 29.7 10-65 Roosevelt(1995:120)statesthat"manyarchae- ologists arenot awareof the characteristicsof the Mina and Alaka phases or of their radiocarbon dates"andgoes ontoexplain:"partof theproblem hasbeen thatthenatureof thecomplexeswas not presentedclearlyandaccuratelyin thewritingsof those familiar with the sites, collections and dates."But as Evans and Meggers point out in theirreporton theAlakaphase,manyof thefacts simply were not yet known. Of Alaka-phase ceramics,EvansandMeggers(1960:59)write:"It should be emphasized . .. that the evidence is not sufficientlystrongor clear-cutfor the interpreta- tions suggestedhere to be consideredfinal"and insisted that the "severalinterestingtendencies" revealedby thedatawerepresented"asa basisfor futureinvestigation."It was thereforemanyyears before the aberrantnature of Hosororo Creek withintheAlakaphaseandthepivotalroleplayed by its experimentalceramicpastes in the emer- gence of the FormativeMabarumaphasecame to be realized. Thus,presentlyavailablefactson thenatureand datesof shell-temperedpotteryfromHosororoCreek shouldshedsomelightonthesupposedrelationship between the Mina and the Alaka phase already pointedto by MeggersandEvans(1978:551)and Simoes (1981). Ourevidencenow shows thatthe relationshipbetweenMinapotteryandpotteryonthe WesternGuianaLittoraldoesnotextendtoanysite of the Alakaphase, all of which are preceramic. The perceivedsimilaritiesare confinedstrictlyto one of thetwo dominantpotterytypesatHosororo Creek-shell-tempered WanainaPlain.As Evans andMeggers(1960:53)noteof thistype:"Pottery withthistemperwas notfoundin anyothersitein the whole of British Guiana."When contrasted withthepreceramicculturallevel of allothershell- fishing sites on the WesternGuianaLittoral,this very similarityof WanainaPlainto the potteryof the Minaphase would appearto constituteunas- sailably good groundsfor eliminatingHosororo Creek from any future characterizationof the Alakaphase. Apartfrom the unique similarityof Wanaina Plain to the ceramics of the Mina phase, the HosororoCreek midden is also aberranton the WesternGuianaLittoralby virtueof itsdenseaccu- mulation of shells of the mangrove oyster, as againstthemyriadshellsof thezebranerite,crabs, andfishthatconstitutealltheknownmiddensof the Alaka phase. The sole deposit of oyster shells known anywhereoutside the home base of the HosororoCreekgroup occurs on WahanaIsland about170kmto the southeast,on theupperWaini River.This is the site N-9, in the terminologyof Evans and Meggers, who note of it (1960:31): "Whereastheothershellmiddenscontainedseveral species,thissiteproducedonlytwo:Neritinazebra BrugiereandCrassostrearhizophoraeGuilding." The suddenabundanceof C. rhizophoraeon the lower ArukaRiver around4000 B.P. was a functionof thesalinizationof theriversduringthe indicatedaridinterval.In phasewith risingsalin- ity levels locally, maximum diametersof these oysters increasedprogressively with decreasing depthfromthe surfaceof the deposit.The largest specimensoccurredjust before depositionof the uppermostlevel (Table1). On theirextendedtradingjourneysto Wahana Island,the group from HosororoCreek traveled with an adequate supply of these oysters. At Wahana Island (N-9), pebbles and cobbles of amphiboleschist, the prevailingrock materialof the ArukaHills, were tradedagainstsandfor the distinctive Sand Creek Plain of the shellfishers. These strategicrockmaterialswererelayedto the upperPomerooncomplexto be percussionflaked into preformsof the adzes and axes requiredin canoe manufacturethere. These preforms were then returnedto the unique granite outcrops at WahanaIslandfor grinding. Significantly,theselong-distancetradevisits to WahanaIslandby theHosororoCreekgroupnever led to the adoptionof ceramictechnologyby the hosts,whosematerialculturecontinuedto showno evidence of ceramic use over the centuries. Meanwhile,thediagnosticoystershellsof thevis- itorsaccumulatedin a discreteheapon theedge of the camp site separatefrom the almostpurecrab refuse of their hosts. Their diagnosticpotsherds were depositedon the floor of the cave to which
  10. 10. 350 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 62, No. 2, 1997] they were assigned, some distance from the settle- ment on the hilltop. This segregation of the domes- tic activities of the visitors from those of theirhosts implies the social marginalization of the former within the Alaka community on the Waini River. Thus, notwithstanding its location in the heart of Alaka territory, Hosororo Creek was an intrusive culture on the Aruka River, demonstrably affiliated to the Mina phase at the mouth of the Amazon and not to the Alaka phase of northwestern Guyana. Had this aberrancy of Hosororo Creek on the Western Guiana Littoral been realized earlier, it may have saved Roosevelt (1995:120) the futility inherent in drawing conclusions from the supposed link between the Mina and Alaka phases. There simply was never any connection between the two. Consequently, there can be no "missing chronolog- ical information" in the Smithsonian archives with regard to the Alaka phase (Roosevelt 1995:12 1). The perceived link was solely with the small group at Hosororo Creek. It was relatively recent. It occurred long after the then-hypersaline lower Aruka River had been deserted by the traditional Alaka-phase group at nearby Barabina Hill. It never therefore overlapped with or, of course, pre- dated early Mina. Roosevelt (1995:119) claims that "the early shell mounds in Guyana had produced sand-tem- pered plain pottery and shell-tempered plain pot- tery with simple shapes." Although the shell- and sand-tempered pottery cited here originated only at Hosororo Creek, representative sherds are reported at three sites of the upper Waini complex (N-8, N-9, N- 10), as well as at the nearby Akawabi shell mound (N- 16) on the Koriabo River, a tribu- tary of the Aruka River. As stated by their excava- tors (Evans and Meggers 1960:53): All the potteryfragmenitsfromAlaka Phase sites were found eitheron the surfaceor in the upper levels of the refuse middens. Although there are few sherds, distinctive features of paste, temper, etc., set them apart from pottery types of other archaeological phases in the Northwest District and therefore they have been classified and described as separatepot- tery types [emphasisadded]. Evans and Meggers's tabulation (1960:Table A) of sherd frequencies/level of these "few" sherds, characterized by "distinctive features of paste, temper etc.," clearly shows them to have been intrusive at the preceramic sites. This near-recognitionof the uniqueness of HosororoCreekceramicson the WesternGuiana Littoralwas vitiatedonly by the authors'ambiva- lence regardingthe significance of the temporal prioritytheyhadperceivedforthe"crudelymade" shell-temperedWanainaPlain as against sand- temperedSand CreekPlain, consideredby them (1960:59) as "byno meansexperimental."To the authors,WanainaPlainappearedto exhibit"slow, experimental"beginningsatWahanaIsland(N-9) and Akawabi Creek (N-16) before "its great increaseinfrequencyatHosororoCreek(N- I1).It is now evident that the reverse is what took place the experimentalbeginningswere in fact at HosororoCreek.This is the reason that pot- sherdsin the upperWainicomplex (N-8, N-9, N- 10), as well as at AkawabiCreek (N-16), were found either on the surfaceor in the uppermost levels. Unfortunately,Roosevelt's statementcited immediately above regarding "the early shell moundsin Guyana"is unreferenced. Sample Submission Data and Archaeological Fact Concerning the 18 radiocarbondates deriving from the four Guyanasites to which she refers, Roosevelt (1995:Table10) states:"All the dated samplesin this list were recordedas havingbeen excavatedfromsoil layerswith potterysherdsor frompeatlayersthattheexcavatorassociatedwith theearlypottery-bearinglayers."As shownabove, this is totally incorrect.BarringHosororoCreek, the middens that Roosevelt indicates (Barabina, Kabakaburi)are both demonstrablypreceramic, and the Seba peat deposit is noncultural. Notwithstandingthe assertiveness of her argu- ment,Roosevelt is obviously unawareof exactly whatthesamplesubmissionformsshe is referring to areactuallydating.Andthis relatesnot only to ceramics ("plainsherdsof sand-temperedAlaka pottery"on BarabinaHill), but to archaeological sitesas well (nonculturalSebaCreekas a pottery- age shell midden)and even to theirstratigraphic levels;forexample,theHosororoCreekdepositis overlainbythegravel-and-sandsurfaceof arecent dirttrack40 cm deep,whichmeanssubtracting40 cm in order to extract the archaeologicalfacts from the stratigraphic "depths" derived by Roosevelt(I995:Table10.1)fromtheradiocarbon samplesubmissionforms.
  11. 11. COMMENTS 351 SHELLMOUNDS. THEWESTERNGUIANA LITTORAL EASTERNSUBZONE WESTERNSUBZONE (B3.P.) A B C D E F 3550?65 (Bta 20007) 3975-45 (SI 6638) 4115 +1-50 (SI 4332) 4890-75 (SI 7019) 53 40? 100 6520-160 6885-8 5 (Beta 27055) A. PIRAKA D. KORIABO B. KABAKABURI E. AKAWABI C. BARABINA F. HOSORORO Figure 5. Chronology of some shell middens on the Western Guiana Littoral. Of the 18 dates from Guyana claimed by Roosevelt(1995:120)to havebeenleftunaccount- ablyunpublishedsincetheearly 1980s,eighthave in fact been published since then (Williams 1982:86, 1992:240, 244) (Figure5). Contraryto Roosevelt's assertions, delay in publication of otherearlydatesfromtheWesternGuianaLittoral (andotherpartsof theGuianas)is notbasedonide- ological considerations.In every case, the results of samples I submittedwere transmittedto me withoutcommentby my Smithsoniancolleagues. Those remainingunpublishedreflect my concern to conductsufficientfieldworkto permittheireval- uation within the larger context of the Guiana region as a whole, still definitely a pioneering researcharea.The potentiallymisleadingconse- quences of basing interpretationson unevaluated radiocarbondates,and,worse,of derivingartifact- orsite-provenanceandevenstratificationdatafrom radiocarbonsamplesubmissionforms,areclearly demonstratedby Roosevelt's article. Far from bridgingthewide gapbetweendatesproferredfor the Taperinhashell moundon the lowerAmazon (Rooseveltet al. 1991) and those for the earliest pottery from Ecuadorand Colombia, the dates from the WesternGuianaLittoralleave that gap entirelyunmodified.Towardtheendof Roosevelt's article (1995:130) occurs a caution against self- delusionthatis worthcommittingto memory:"We need the grand theories they are our way of thinkingaboutthecausesof things buttheirrou- tineinaccuracyandultimateobsolescencewarnus tobecarefulto letthearchaeologicalrecordinform us even whenit does notfit ourtheories."
  12. 12. 352 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 62, No. 2, 1997] References Cited Absy,M. L. 1982 QuaternaryPalynological Studies in the Amazon Basin. In Biological Diversification in the Tropics, edited by G. T. Prance,pp. 67-73. ColumbiaUniversityPress, New York. 1985 Palynologyof Amazonia:The Historyof the Forests as Revealedby the PalynologicalRecord.InAmaZonia, edited by G. T. Pranceand T. E. Lovejoy, pp. 72-82. PergamonPress,Oxford. Brett,W.H. 1868 The Indian Tribes of Guiana: Their Condition and Habits.2nded. Bell andDaldy,New York. Budak,M. 1991 The Function of Shell Temper in Pottery. The Minnesota Archaeologist 50(2):53-59. Evans,C., andB. J. Meggers 1960 Archaeological Investigations in British Guiana. United StatesGovernmentPrintingOffice, Washington, D.C. Goodyear,F.H. 1971 Archaeological Site Science. Heinemann Educational Books, London. Harris,P.O'B. 1976 ThePreceramicPeriodinTrinidad.Proceedingsof'the First Puerto Rican Symposium on Archaeology:33-64. FundacionArqueologica,Anthropologica,e Historicade PuertoRico, SanJuan. Hoffman,C. H., andT. F.Lynch. 1990 CurrentResearch.AmericanAntiquity55:168. im Thurn,E. 1967 [1883] Among the Indians of Guiana. Dover Publications,New York. Lathrap,D. 1966 TheMabarumaPhase:A Returnto theMoreProbable Interpretation. American Antiquity 31:558-566. Meggers,B. J., andC. Evans 1957 Archaeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon. United States Government Printing Office, Washington,D.C. 1978 LowlandSouthAmericaandthe Antilles. InAncient Native Americans, pp. 543-591. W. H. Freeman,San Francisco. Osgood,C. 1946 British Guiana Archaeology, to 1945. Yale University Press,New Haven,Connecticut. Roosevelt,A. C. 1995 Early Pottery in the Amazon: Twenty Years of Scholarly Obscurity. In The Emergence of Pottery: Technology and Innovation in Ancient Societies, edited by W. K. Barnett and J. W. Hoopes, pp. 115-131. SmithsonianInstitutionPress,Washington,D.C. Roosevelt, A. C., R. A. Houseley, M. Imazio da Silviera, S. Maranca,R. Johnson 1991 Eighth MillenniumPotteryfrom a PrehistoricShell MiddenintheBrazilianAmazon.Science254:1621-1624. Roth,W.E. 1924 An Introductory Study of the Arts, Crafts and Customs of the Guiana Indians. United States Government PrintingOffice, Washington,D.C. Rouse, I. B. 1985 Arawakan Phylogeny, CaribbeanChronology, and Their Implications for the Study of Population Movement.Antropologica63/64:9-21. Rye, 0. 1981 Potterv Technology: Principles anid Reconstruction. AustralianNationalUniversity,ManualsonArchaeology No. 4. Taraxacum,Washington,D.C. SanojaO., M. 1979 Las Culturas Formativos del Oriente de Venezuela: La Tradicion Barrancas del Bajo Orinoco. Academia Nacionalde la Historia,Caracas,Venezuela. Shepard,A. 0. 1976 Ceramics for the Archaeologist. Carnegie Institution, New York. Simoes, M. 1981 Coletores-Pescadores Ceramistas do Litoral do Salgado (Para). Boletim do Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi.No. 78:1-32. Steward,J. 1949 SouthAmericaCultures:An InterpretiveSummary.In Handbook of South American Indians, vol. 5, edited by J. Steward, pp. 669-772. United States Government PrintingOffice, Washington,D.C. vanderHammen,T. 1974 The Pleistocene Changesof Vegetationand Climate in Tropical South America. Journal of Biogeography 1:3-36. Verrill,A. H. 1918 PrehistoricMounds and Relics of the North West Districtof BritishGuiana.Timehri5 (3rdSeries):11-20. Willey,G. R. 1971 An Introduction to American Archaeology. South America.Vol. 2. PrenticeHall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Williams,D. 1981 Excavationof the BarabinaShell MoundNorthWest District: An Interim Report. Archaeology and Anthropology 2(2): 125-140. 1982 Some SubsistenceImplicationsof Holocene Climate Change in Northwestern Guyana. Archaeology and Anthropology 5(2):83-93. 1992 ElArcaicoenel Noroestede Guyanay los Comienzos de la Horticultura. Prehistoria Sudamericana, edited by B. J. Meggers, pp. 233-251. Taraxacum,Washington, D.C. 1994 Iwokrama: The Commonwealth and Government of Guyana Rain Forest Programme. Guyana Natural ResourcesAgency,Georgetown. Wilson,S. 1991 CurrentResearch.AmericanAntiquity56:149. Note 1. The Alaka phase comprises three extensive preceramic shellfishing complexes scattered across 3,600 km2 of swamps on the Western Guiana Littoral and representing around3,000 years of sedentary living. These shellfishers were adaptedto contrastingniches locatedon theedge of the swamps on the lower Aruka, upper Waini, and upper Pomeroon rivers. Commencing around 3300 B.C., the mutual complementarityof their resources permittedtheir integrationin a vast, kin-based trade network,centered on the manufactureof the dugoutcanoe, which moved strategic rockmaterialsandexpertiseacrossthe swampbasinandper- hapsas faraway as BanwariTraceon Trinidad. Received March 8, 1996; accepted May 28, 1996; revised July75, 1996.