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Worked Sherds

Submitted by mccaffer on Fri, 03/07/2008 - 2:03pm

Another artifact class that is often mentioned briefly in excavation reports but seldom studied in detail is worked sherds. These were potsherds that were ground smooth along the edges. They are usually round or oval in shape, but occasionally had squared edges.

The function of these artifacts is not assured, and it is likely that they served more than one purpose. Rounded sherds were found covering storage vessels at the site of Ceren, El Salvador (Sheets 1991). Ethnographic studies in Veracruz have found worked sherds used for burnishing pottery during manufacture. They might also have been used for polishing plaster walls or floors. These functional interpretations require substantiation, however, and a research objective of this analysis was to identify the archaeological context for worked sherds at UA-1.

The distribution of worked sherds is presented in Figure 160. In the upper levels of the site, there was a low concentration in the area of Structure 1 and the Trash Midden, but with the greatest concentration near the compound wall. In the occupation levels, the relative frequency of worked sherds was higher than in the upper levels. The highest concentration was in the Trash Midden, and there was no distinction between inside or outside of the structure, with the exception of the northwest corner of Room 4, where 6 worked sherds were found.

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