ZAPOTEC KILN USED 1,000 YEARS AGO DISCOVERED IN OAXACA
*** The ancient ceramic firing structure was found under a platform at Atzompa Archaeological Site, in Oaxaca, which will open to public in 2012
*** Researchers suppose that the kiln dates from the first occupation years at the Pre-Columbian city (650 - 900 AD), more than 1,000 years ago
A kiln used by Zapotec ancestors to create ceramic pieces more than 1,300 years ago, confirms the long tradition of pottery in Oaxaca. The Prehispanic kiln was recently discovered at Atzompa Archaeological Site, to be open to public this year.
This kiln presents a good conservation state, better than those found at Monte Alban, being the best conserved found to present. The kiln allows linking Prehispanic pottery tradition to the current handicraft activity at Santa Maria Atzompa community, acknowledging identification of contemporary society with the ancestors.
This was announced by the archaeologist Jaime Vera, from the National Institute of Anthropology (INAH-Conaculta), responsible of excavations at the site, who mentioned that the kiln was buried under a stucco floor of the platform known as Casa de los Altares (House of the Altars).
“Preliminarily, it was assumed that it might date from the first occupation years of the site, between 650 and 900 of the Common Era, more than 1,300 years ago, parting from associated ceramic found and the depth -2.2 meters- where it was found, well below the stucco floor that covered it, which corresponds to that age, but further studies would confirm”.
First signs of the kiln were detected during the 4th exploration season, in August 2010, after liberating the façade of a small monticule located to the north of Casa de los Altares, where a hollow under broken stucco was found. A probing well of one meter depth revealed the adobe walls, and it was during the following excavation phase (March-December 2011) when the ancient structure was completely unearthed: a cylindrical adobe wall and the stacking ports.
On the same Casa de los Altares platform, near the oven, were found associated 9 grey-ceramic fragmented pots, which dimensions vary: 1.2 meters height and diameters near 90 centimeters. Three of them present incrustations at the neck that look like spines.
“The kiln –continued archaeologist Vera- is integrated by a 2.1 meters-high circular adobe wall, parting from the stacking ports placed from the center to the edge, and an inferior flue of 20 centimeters approximately; although contemporary kilns are not identical in dimension or disposition of the stacking ports, they conserve constitutive elements and the function as ceramic firing space”.
The INAH researcher detailed that the kiln was temporarily covered with soil to protect it, with the intention of consolidating it during the next exploration season. A light-weighed roof will be installed to shelter it, and the aim is to exhibit it when the archaeological site is open in the second half of 2012.
Jaime Vera also announced that a banquette of the East Patio at Casa de los Altares platform was found, which presents 2 drafts that represent the probable distribution of the cross-figured structure, with the staircase represented to the front.
Atzompa Archaeological Zone functioned as a satellite city of Monte Alban during the Late Classic period (650-900 AD) as a consequence of the expansion of Monte Alban and its uncontrolled demographic growth.
Specialists consider that the elite –of Monte Alban most likely- dwelled in Atzompa, based on urban design elements such as architectural load, constructive volume and location, as well as the delicate finishing of ceramics and their ritual decorative motives.
Experts consider Atzompa a constitutive site of Monte Alban due to the similarity of architectural features in both cities, such as the combination of stone and stucco, the open terraces, cornices and fine stone work.
“Located 4 kilometers away from Monte Alban, Atzompa has 40 monuments registered to present; from them, 15 have been liberated, corresponding to the 30% of the nuclear area of the archaeological zone.
“The site is located on a hill and consists of 4 terraces where small monticules are distributed, as well as great format buildings, temples, an administrative unit, a shrine and 3 game courts, one of them considered the biggest found to present in the Zapotec area”, mentioned Jaime Vera.
The expert indicated that throughout 5 excavations and research seasons conducted since 2007, ceramic pieces similar to those from Monte Alban have been found, although their forms are more diverse; 13 fragmented pots, included 9 associated to the kiln, as well as allochtonous (in a different place from where they are from) material that prove there was a relation with Teotihuacan, as well as from Sierra las Navajas, Hidalgo, and from Guatemala.
Works to give infrastructure to Atzompa Archaeological Zone will continue, since it is one of the Prehispanic sites to be open in 2012.