Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2007:
Anthony A. Vega

Early and Middle Formative: San Lorenzo, Veracruz, México
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Figure 1. Olmec Archaeological Sites in Southeastern Veracruz, and Western Tabasco, México (After Grove 1997).

Research Year:  2001
Culture:  Olmec
Chronology:  Pre-Classic
Location:  Veracruz, México
Site:  San Lorenzo

Table of Contents

Ceramic Analysis
Ceramic Frequencies
Figurine Analysis
Preliminary Conclusions
List of Figures
List of Tables
Sources Cited


The rich alluvial floodplains surrounding the Olmec center of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, Veracruz, México are dotted with mound sites that are contemporaneous with that center (Lunagómez 1995; Symonds 1995). Over one hundred, perhaps 150, unassuming mound sites are located on the floodplain north and northwest of the Olmec center (Vega 1999). The Río Tatagapa and Río Chiquito define the west, north and east limits of this research area (Figure 1, shown above). In 1998, FAMSI-sponsored archaeological excavations were carried out on 15 of the mound sites located in the north and northwest alluvial floodplain (Vega 1998, 1999). Those excavations were carried out under the auspices of the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán Archaeological Project (SLTAP). The SLTAP also provided funding for the floodplain excavations. The 1998 excavations discovered structural (e.g., house floors) and non-structural (e.g., fire-pits) evidence of pre-Olmec and Olmec habitation (Vega 1998, 1999). These mounds, thus, may represent Early Formative period households located in a landscape that inundates during the wet season. The occurrence of pre-Olmec and Olmec cultural materials within the mounds provides an opportunity to study further the ceramic sequence and chronology of San Lorenzo.

Michael Coe and Richard Diehl (1980) of Yale University developed the first ceramic typology for the Olmec archaeological site of San Lorenzo based on their 1966 to 1968 excavations. They separated the San Lorenzo ceramics into eight individual phases (1980:137-159). Coe and Diehl's chronology for San Lorenzo remains unchanged although recent excavations have been carried out at San Lorenzo. Ann Cyphers of the Universidad National Autónoma de México carried out excavations at San Lorenzo from 1989 to 1996.  Cyphers' project incorporated extensive local (e.g., Lunagómez 1995) and regional (e.g., Symonds 1995) surface surveys in the surrounding areas of San Lorenzo. Based on that archaeological research, Symonds, Cyphers, and Lunagómez (2003) have published part of an independent ceramic typology for San Lorenzo. During the 1998 excavations, I used Coe and Diehl's (1980) ceramic typology to date stratigraphic layers and floors/surfaces that were uncovered. This preliminary report describes the method used in the analysis of the materials recovered from the floodplain excavations.

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Early and Middle Formative: San Lorenzo, Veracruz, México  (1.0 MB)

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Submitted 01/02/2007 by:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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