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Communities of Pottery Production and Consumption on the Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia, 200 BC-300 AD


This dissertation examines Late Formative Period (200 BC-300 AD) communities of potting practice at the three settlements of Kala Uyuni, Kumi Kipa and Sonaji on the Taraco Peninsula, of the Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia. Ceramics play a central role in defining the social boundaries of prehistoric communities in the region. However our current narratives are stymied for the Late Formative Period, which precedes the appearance of the urban center of Tiwanaku (AD 400- 950). This is partly due to a reliance on ceramic design style. This study develops a practice-oriented approach to define Taraco Peninsula technological styles, refine the local ceramic chronology and evaluate the relationship between Late Formative communities and pottery. A "communities of practice" approach (Lave and Wenger 1991), which stresses the social entanglements between learning and identity, drives the analysis of the subtle changes in production sequences and their related consumption practices.

Pottery production and consumption at Kala Uyuni, Kumi Kipa and Sonaji were analyzed through attribute analysis, petrography, x-ray fluorescence and x-ray diffraction. Shifts in learned bodily practice, such as surface finishing techniques, and a suite of new technological choices, including paste preparation, define both the transition to the Late Formative Period and internal sub-phases. These technological choices were likely linked to a larger symbolic landscape and embedded in a greater productive taskscape. The spatial context of production tools suggests that pottery was manufacture in all three settlements. A survey of the local hills found that potters likely used local clays, while petrography showed that tempers were added and may have been collected further afield. The similarity in operational sequences and paste recipes indicates that Taraco potters were a single learning community and part of their identities were likely constituted through their skillful potting practice. Consumption patterns changed slightly through the Middle and Late Formative, with an increased use of deep bowl forms. Large-scale political feasting, essential to the urban experience at Tiwanaku, was not a central social practice. Rather particular forms had multi-purpose functions, framing special events. This research contributes to social archaeologies of community, research on craft production and archaeological theories of practice.

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