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Submitted by mccaffer on Sun, 03/14/2010 - 5:21pm

By Geoffrey McCafferty (2010) 


The chronology of Pacific Nicaragua conforms to that of the Greater Nicoya region, although far more attentiion has been paid to Costa Rica due to the more extensive range of archaeological projects conducted in the south.  A ceramic conference in the early 1990s resulted in a revised ceramic sequence and chronology:

 Greater Nicoya Chronology

[Chart created by Larry Steinbrenner]


Table 1. Radiocarbon dates from Nicaragua

Sample #                   Conventional       1-Sigma Range       2-Sigma Range

Ayala (Gr-2)

The Ayala site is located near the base of the Mombacho volcano in the Department of Granada.  It was identified by Silvia Salgado during her regional survey, and was subsequently excavated revealing Bagaces and Sapoa period occupations (Salgado 1996:437)

Beta-66956               840+60 BP           AD 1070-1080          AD 1030-1270

Beta-66957                810+60 BP          AD 1160-1280          AD 1040-1300                


 El Rayo (Gr-39)

El Rayo is located on the Asese peninsula into Lake Nicaragua, in the Department of Granada.  Excavations encountered Bagaces and Sapoa period deposits. 

Beta-265450             1230+40 BP        AD710-870               AD 680-890

Beta-265451             1220+60 BP        AD 690-890              AD 660-970

Beta-265453             1030+50 BP        AD 980-1030           AD 900-1140

Beta-265454             1430+40 BP        AD 600-650             AD 560-660

Beta-265459             960+40 BP           AD 1020-1150       AD 1010-1170

Beta-265462             1360+40 BP        AD 650-670            AD 620-690

Beta-265463             1220+40 BP        AD 720-880            AD 680-890

Material culture associated with these dates, especially ceramics, indicate that the transition between the Bagaces and Sapoa period did occur about 800 AD.  The material culture between the two periods changed dramatically, suggesting population replacement, or at least signficant culture change.  Fragments of imported polychrome pottery from the late Bagaces levels suggest possible influences from the Ulua Valley of eastern Honduras. 


Las Delicias

Located within the city of Managua, near the shore of Lake Managua, Las Delicias was excavated as a rescue project by archaeologists from the Patrimony office and Mi Museo (Moroney 2009; Pavon 2009).  Although much of the site was destroyed during construction, numerous burials were rescued along with associated grave goods suggesting a late Tempisque/early Bagaces date. 

Beta-257989             1800+50 BP                                         AD 120-380

Beta-357990             1790+50 BP                                         AD 1280-280


San Francisco

Located in Granada (Wyckoff 1976)

WSU-?                       747+135               AD 1150-1400       AD 1020-1440


San Lazaro

Located on Ometepe Island (Haberland 1978:405)

Hv-2692                    505+30 BP            AD 1410-1440      AD 1330-1450


Santa Isabel  (Ri-44)

Santa Isabel is site on the shore of Lake Nicaragua, in the Department of Rivas.  Santa Isabel was first excavated by Willey and Norweb in the late 1950s/early 1960s (Healy 1980), and in the 1990s was surveyed by Niemel, who also conducted small scale excavations (Niemel 2003). The most extensive excavations were carried out by the University of Calgary between 2000-2005 (McCafferty 2008; McCafferty and Steinbrenner 2005).

Beta-140586             1030-+90 BP      AD 955-1040         AD 780-1220

Beta-196654             920±50 BP          AD1030-1180       AD 1010-1230

Beta-196655             870±60 BP          AD 1050-1100      AD 1020-1270

Beta-196656             980±50 BP          AD 1010-1050      AD 980-1180

Beta-217127             1010+40 BP       AD 1000-1030       AD 980-1050

Beta 217128             1090+60 BP       AD 890-1010         AD 790-1030

Beta 217129             860+70 BP         AD 1050-1100       AD 1020-1280

Beta 217130             1180+70 BP       AD 770-960          AD 680-1000

Beta-196657             900±60 BP         AD 1030-1210     AD 1010-1260

Beta-196658             820±50 BP         AD 1180-1270     AD 1060-1080

Beta-196659             970±60 BP         AD 1010-1160     AD 980-1200

Beta-196660            1010±70 BP        AD 980-1040       AD 890-1180

Beta-196661            930±60 BP          AD 1020-1180     AD 1000-1240

Beta-196662            940±80 BP          AD 1010-1190     AD 970-1260

Beta-196663            990±60 BP          AD 1000-1050     AD 960-1180

Beta-196664            860±60 BP          AD 1060-1080     AD 1030-1280

Beta-196665            1020±70 BP        AD 980-1040       AD 890-1180   

Beta 217131            910+50 BP          AD 1030-1190     AD 1020-1240


Tepetate (Gr-10)

Tepetate is located on the north side of modern Granada, where it has been severely impacted by modern development and looting.  It has been known for over 100 years, and 19th and early 20th century scholars described it as having large mounds with facades of flat stones.  It was investigated by Salgado (1996) as part of her survey.  Excavations by the University of Calgary project ocurred in 2008, with exploration of one of the last remaining mounds and two small clusters of urn burials. 

Beta-257985          810+40 BP                                           AD 1160-1270

Beta-257988          920+40                                                 AD 1020-1210

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