Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 131-154 (1996). Copyright 1996. Used by permission.


A cache of hermetically sealed ceramic jars found in the Lower Colorado Desert was examined using chronometric dating, pollen and macrofossil extraction, design analysis, and water retention experimentation. The cache apparently dates to the protohistoric fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. Findings from these studies contribute to knowledge in four problem areas: (1) ceramic jar function and use-history; (2) storage technology and caching behavior; (3) ceramic dating and chronology; and (4) symbolic iconography. Biotic remains from inside the jars document their use for transporting a variety of riverine and desert plants, before they were finally filled with flowers and seeds, and placed in a small cave in the Trigo Mountains. A stylized bird painted on one of the jars implies that iconography imbued the cache with ritual meaning.

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