Pottery Production in a Prehispanic Philippine Polity: An Archaeological/Geochemical Study


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Dissertation Fellowships (North America)




Recent archaeological research in the Philippines suggests that the rise of large-scale, politically dominant polities in the archipelago was accompanied by changes in the political economy, including greater centralization and specialization of craft production. This project examines the organization of earthenware production and craft specialization in the prehispanic Philippine trade center of Tanjay (AD 500 to 1600) and includes a rich dataset, incorporating archaeological ceramics, clay samples, ethnoarchaeological observations, ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources, and museum collections. A relatively new and promising geochemical method for analyzing archaeological material (laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) is used to determine the elemental make-up of pottery and clay samples from several prehispanic sites in the Tanjay region and to investigate temporal and geographic variations in raw materials used for pottery production. This project contributes to knowledge of pre-Hispanic Philippine societies and, more generally, to research on economic systems in non-state societies.