Petrographic Analysis of Ceramics and Clay from Angamuco, Michoacán

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

Publication Date



Elsevier BV



First Page


Last Page



A key goal in the study of ancient artifacts is determining their provenance. Such information can provide insight into the production and consumption of artifacts, but may also inform discussions about local political economies. This study uses optical petrography to evaluate the tempers in ceramic samples and raw clays from Angamuco, located in the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, Michoacán. Angamuco was occupied before and throughout the development of the Purépecha Empire (1350–1530 CE) and is thus an important case study for understanding the impacts of political change on urban landscapes and ceramic production and manufacture. We identify seven ceramic temper groups and four clay groups. The ceramic samples almost exclusively match local clays. Angamuco appears to have been relatively self-sufficient in pottery production throughout the occupation sequence. While we did identify some temporal and spatial variation in ceramic production and consumption, pottery technologies and techniques of manufacture appear to have remained relatively stable over long periods of time. Our data point to multiple small-scale producers, who focused on local clays and tempers, generating numerous, complex paste recipes. The results of this analysis contribute to our understanding of ceramic production processes at Angamuco and may be compared to provenance studies in Western Mexico and elsewhere.