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Ceramic Analysis of Temple B, Río Bec, Quintana Roo, México
Stan Freer

Analysis of Rims by Ceramic period


It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Pakluum, the earliest period of development at Río Bec, represents the third largest sample of identifiable rims placing it closely behind Late Pakluum /Chacsik, which is actually a continuation of this period. Sierra Red, with its distinctive "soapy feel" is the most dominant ceramic type in this period. This type has a wide distribution throughout the Maya area, especially during the Late Preclassic (Ball 1974a:43).

Other slipped wares include Escobal Red on Buff, Flor Cream, and Polvero Black in that order of frequency. Striated ceramics appear popular during the Pakluum with Sapote Striated appearing in three different varieties. Rastro Variety is the most common of the three and the second most popular pottery style for the period. These utilitarian wares display the distinctive striated surface with the tecomate form distinguishing it from the Sapote Variety. Distribution of Sapote occurs throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Olla water jugs are the most common ceramic form during Pakluum. Trickle ware, also, first appears at this time represented by Zapatista Trickle on Brown. Trickle ware is a common form of pottery throughout the Puuk region, to the northwest, during the Late Classic. See Chart 1 for Pakluum ceramic breakdown.

Late Pakluum and Chacsik

This transitional period of time is dominated by Trickle ware and striated vessels. If Sierra Red is considered only a terminal facet of Pakluum it can also be included among these potteries. Chart 2 for ceramic breakdown for this period.

Late Chacsik

Triunfo Striated: Aliso Variety continues to increase in number during this part of the Chacsik period, greatly out-numbering the only other ceramics identifiable to this time, known as Dos Arroyos Orange Polychrome: Opuesto Variety. This later ware is common throughout much of the Maya area. Late Chacsik lasts for only about a 50 year period, thus explaining the short list of ceramics for this period. See Chart 3.


During Sabucan, Triunfo Striated: Acahual Variety dominates the ceramic scene. This type is a variation of the previous Aliso Variety differing principally in rim mode. Langostino Red: Langostino Variety and Falcon Tawny Brown: Falcon Variety, both Yucatán Gloss wares, are the next most frequent ceramic. Only a small number of polychromes are present during Sabucan. Paradero Fluted represents the other sophisticated ware. This type of pottery is considered uncommon, but found at Waxaktun (Uaxactún) during Tzakol 3 and at Altar de Sacrificios and Barton Ramie (Ball 1974a:199). Interestingly, Paradero takes the form of a tripod cylindrical vessel, a Horizon Marker of Teotihuacán. Another tripod vessel with apron lid, called Baxbachan Plano-relief: Baxbachan Variety, discovered at Becán, contains Mexican figurines as part of the cache (see Ball 1974b, 2-9). This is the time period that one would expect to find such vessels as it is the height of the Early Middle Classic when Teotihuacán made the greatest extension of its empire. Tripod cylindrical vessels with apron lids are considered a Teotihuacán Horizon Marker (see Lee A. Parsons 1969; Freer 1976, 1986). Sabucan ceramics are represented in Chart 4.


This period represents the greatest production period not only in ceramics but also building construction at Río Bec. This is the beginning of the Late Classic/ Late Middle Classic and considered a time of consolidation and local expansion and building within the Maya area (Parson 1969:164). Becanchén Brown: Becanchén Variety is the most dominant ceramic at Río Bec at this time representing about 2.05% of the total identifiable rims. Molino Black: Buitre Variety is next in frequency representing .63% of the total identifiable rims. The striated form is represented by Encanto Striated: Alambre Variety, however striated vessels decreased significantly from .31% during Sabucan to .03% in Bejuco. Emphasis during Bejuco was on Becanchén Brown: Becanchén Variety. Corona Red: Corona Variety of the Petén Gloss Wares also makes it presence at Río Bec, although not in as great a quantity. See Chart 5 for listing of Bejuco ceramics.

Bejuco - Chintok

During this transition the most significant ceramic present is the Blanquillo Unslipped: Blanquillo Variety which is thought to be used as an architectural element in the stucco of the roof combs both in Chintok and Bejuco at Becán (Ball 1974a:25). Temple B has a very elaborate roof facade that once ran over the doorway across the front of the structure. The middle portion of this facade was found collapsed at the time of the reconstruction in 1976 (see Photo 1 and Photo 2). This ceramic transition is represented in Chart 6.


Two ceramic types dominate the Chintok period with the introduction of a third also present in the northwestern Puuk Region. These are Encanto Striated: Pepino Variety, Traino Brown: Traino Variety, and Tancachacal Slate: Tancachacal Variety (see Chart 7). Encanto demonstrates that the striated vessel once more is a dominant ware during Chintok. The vessel form in this type is the jar. This pottery type is also found at Waxaktun and Altar de Sacrificios, both major sites in the Petén. Traino Brown: Traino Variety, which is abundant, seem to be restricted to the Río Bec region (Ball 1974a:51). Diagnostic is the bolstered rim. The Tancachacal Slate is a member of the Puuk Slate Wares to the north. Slates wares are the dominant ceramic in the Puuk region, especially during the Copo Sphere (Ball 1974a:78). Present, also from the Puuk area, is the use of colonnettes along the base of Temple B (see Photo 2).

Chintok - Early Xcocom

Río Bec continues to be influenced by the northwestern Yucatán represented by Encanto Striated: Yokat Variety, a ceramics that is associated with Uxmal of the Puuk Region (Smith 1971:34). It is the most common ceramic at this time at Río Bec. Another type at this time - Pixtun Trickle on Gray: Pixtun Variety - appears to be an imitation of Puuk Slate ware as well. Achote Black: Achote Variety is the second most common. It is considered a common ceramic at Becán (Ball 1974a:76). It is also found at Waxaktun and Altar de Sacrificios (Smith 1955:fig. 50a16). Cedro Gadrooned: Cedro Variety, a common Fine Orange Ware is also relatively frequent at Río Bec being slightly less present. Fine Orange is associated with Seibal in the Petén (Sabloff 1970:fig. 57a-e). Remains of other unidentified Fine Orange wares represent .29872% of the total ceramics at Río Bec. Balancán Orange: Variety Unspecified, although rare throughout the region is present at Río Bec during the Xcocom. Two other ceramic styles, but in lesser quantity, are Pasterlaria Composite: Pasterlaria Variety and Carro Modeled: Carro Variety. Both are common throughout the area. The later has the same paste and slip as Achote Black with unique modeled faces. The Carro Modeled present at Río Bec consists of the more simpler coffee bean types and is the least frequent of the identifiable ceramics for this period. These ceramic types are represented in Chart 8.


Xcocom marks the end of significant occupation and construction at Río Bec. After this time the population at Río Bec takes a significant drop in numbers. Interestingly, there is an increase to ten (almost doubling) ceramic types from Chintok, although the quantity is not greater (Compare Chart 7 and Chart 9). Bowls and cylindrical vases constituted the majority of shapes. Most popular are Jalapeno Scored: Jalapeno Variety which represents about 0.16% of the total ceramic present at Temple B.  The only other place this form is found is at Becán and Chicanná (Ball 1974a:182). Scored vessels are often used to grind chiles. Slate wares continue in the Xcocom represented by Ticul Thin Slate and Xul Incised indicating that Puuk influence continues. Fine Orange was represented by Balancán Orange: Variety Unspecified which is very rare in this region (Ball 1974a:90). It is identified with Mayapán (Smith 1971:19) and Seibal (Sabloff 1970:383-4). Torro Gouged Incised: Torro Variety is common at Becán and represents about .02 percent of the ceramics at Río Bec. This ware is found in the Temple B burial of Río Bec, discussed next.

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