Champotón 5 - The Late Classic B Period
The Champotón 5 complex represents a dramatic break in ceramic links between Champotón and the Peten and Chenes areas, continuing the process of regionalization that was initiated in the Champotón 4 complex. The most notable characteristics of Champotón 5 is a reorientation of ceramic influences from inland to coastal linkages, an increase in the prevalence of imported wares, increasing ceramic diversity, and disjunction between inland and coastal zones within the CRSS project study area. The spatiotemporal relationship between Champotón 5 and the Champotón 4 and 6 complexes is convoluted, with some degree of overlap noted in many sites in the CRSS project study area. The complex is best envisioned as a reflection of a coastal exchange network focused on the western and northwestern coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula. This network is indicated by the spread of the Canbalam ceramic sphere between AD 700-850. However, it is important to note that the Canbalam sphere is not a monolithic entity, but instead a set of tradewares that linked coastal centers between the Chontalpa region of Tabasco, coastal Campeche, and parts of the northern Yucatecan coast. Thus, the term ‘sphere’ is perhaps not entirely accurate since many of the shared ceramic wares and groups among a coastal network of sites are more likely a subassemblage of trade wares that were combined with local ceramics. Thus, the ‘Canbalam Pheonomon’ is perhaps best understood as a horizon or tradeware subassemblage.
The diagnostic types associated with the Champotón 5 complex (Figure 7.29) include ceramic groups characteristic of the coastal Canbalam ceramic sphere, which was first proposed by Joe Ball (1978:134) and refined considerably by Socorro Jiménez Álvarez and colleagues (Ancona Aragón, et al. 2009; Ancona Aragón, et al. 2006; Jiménez Álvarez 2009; Jiménez Álvarez 2013; Jiménez Álvarez 2002; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006a; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006b). This sphere has long been noted to be limited to the western and northwestern coasts of the Yucatán peninsula, extending approximately from the Laguna de Terminos north up the Peninsular Gulf Coast as far north as the to the Bocas de Dzilam and Isla Cerritos, Yucatán (see Figure 7.41, Ball 1978; Dahlin, et al. 1998; Jiménez Álvarez 2009; Jiménez Álvarez 2013; Jiménez Álvarez 2002; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006a; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006b; Robles Castellanos and Andrews 2000; Simmons 1982). Some of the most interesting aspects of this complex include a severance of links to the Petén, gradual replacement of polychrome and red glosswares with fine paste ceramics in the serving vessel subassemblage, and clear evidence for the distribution of large quantities of ceramic vessels via maritime trade networks.
Important components of the Champotón 5 complex include a mixture of locally produced wares and foreign imports, with clear evidence for exchange of large quantities of ceramics via coastal trade. Ceramic types likely produced in the region include later forms of Yakatzib Striated jars, Nimun Brown, and Baca Red. The most conspicuous aspect of Champotón 5 complex is the introduction of a diversity of fine paste wares imported from Tabasco and Veracruz. These include temperless wares such as Altar/Balancan Fine Orange, early forms of Chablekal/Tres Naciones Fine Grey, Isla Fina/Dzitbalche Fine Buff, Tsicul/Yalkox Fine Black, Huimanguillo Fine Brown, Calatraba Fine Cream, Comalcalco Fine Grey, and Paraiso Fine Orange. All of these type were produced from temperless clays only available in the deltas of large rivers of Tabasco and the Lower Usumacinta, and have been traced to those regions based on chemical compositional analyses of pastes (Ancona Aragón and Jiménez Álvarez 2005; Ancona Aragón, et al. 2009; Ancona Aragón, et al. 2006; Armijo Torres, et al. 2005; Bishop 2003; Bishop, et al. 2008; Bishop, et al. 2006; Bishop and Rands 1982; Gallegos and Armijo Torres 2006; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006a; Rands, et al. 1982; Sabloff, et al. 1982). The quantity and variability in fine paste wares entering the Champotón region indicates a fundamental change in ceramic production and distribution spheres, with relatively few impediments to the movement of imported ceramics via Gulf Coast trade networks.
The Champotón 5 ceramic complex includes diagnostic types associated with the Canbalam ceramic sphere, a ceramic tradition that was shared among coastal sites along the western edge of the Yucatan Peninsula (Figure 7.41). The Canbalam sphere was first proposed by Joe Ball (1978:134) and refined considerably by Socorro Jiménez and colleagues (Jiménez Álvarez 2002; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006a; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006b). This sphere has long been noted to be limited to the western and northwestern coasts of the Yucatán peninsula, extending approximately from Sabancuy, Campeche in the south to the Bocas de Dzilam, Yucatán in the north (Ball 1978; Jiménez Álvarez 2002; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006a; Jiménez Álvarez, et al. 2006b; Robles Castellanos and Andrews 2000). Other sites incorporated into the Canbalam sphere include coastal centers such as Villa Madero (Jiménez Álvarez 2002:301-303), Jaina (Benavides Castillo 2011; Piña Chan 1968; Ruz Lhullier 1969), Uaymil (Benavides Castillo 2011; Piña Chan 1968; Ruz Lhullier 1969), Canbalam, Dzibalchaltun (Simmons 1982), and several sites on the northwestern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula (Robles Castellanos and Andrews 2000:22; Robles Castellanos and Ceballos Gallareta 2002).
The coastal distribution of Canbalam sphere materials within the local region is well evidenced within the Río Champotón drainage (Table 7.15). Sites with substantial quantities of Champotón 5 materials include Champotón, Rancho Potrero Grande, and Niop. The overall distribution of Champotón 5 ceramics suggest an increase in population in coastal zones, with re-occupation of many Formative Period mounds at Niop, Rancho Potrero Grande, Moquel, and Champotón. This pattern is consistent with regional reconnaissance data (Ek and Rosado Ramírez 2004), mirroring the rise of coastal centers such as Villa Madero and Chuncan, and a large-scale reorientation of settlement patterns along coastal zones and a large-scale reorientation of settlement patterns along coastal zones (see also Ball 1978; Benavides Castillo 2003; Benavides Castillo 2011; Forsyth 2013; Jiménez Álvarez 2013; Zapata 1997). Canbalam sphere ceramics are relatively rare at inland sites such as Ulumal, and almost entirely absent at San Dimas (Table 7.15), reflecting a sharp decline in participation in the Canbalam sphere with distance from the coast. The disjunction between coastal and inland ceramic assemblages noted at Champotón has also been identified in regional settlement pattern studies by the Costa Maya Project, which documented discontinuities in ceramic sphere affiliation between coastal and inland centers in Northwestern Yucatan (Robles Castellanos and Andrews 2000:22). As at Champotón, sites that participated in the Canbalam sphere within the Proyecto Costa Maya study area were limited to the coastal margin.
In general, Champotón 5 represents a reorientation to the coast in terms of demography, direction of influence in norms of ceramic production, and in trade links. Ceramic links between Edzná and other centers in inland Campeche are dramatically reduced, evidenced particularly in the rarity of Cehpech sphere ceramics common in eastern Campeche, the Puuc Hills, and the Northern Plains of Yucatán. Trade wares become a major component of ceramic assemblages for the first time during this period, a pattern that would continue into the Postclassic Period. Fine paste wares produced in the lower Usumacinta, Tabasco, and as far as southern Veracruz appear in notable frequencies and a wide range of contexts, indicating increasing long-distance exchange of ceramics. Likewise, there is strong evidence of economic, political, and social links with other centers along the Campeche Coast and northwestern Yucatán. These imported fine-paste ceramics replace the glosswares and polychromes of the Champotón 4 complex as the primary vessels in the serving ware subassemblage relatively quickly. The political and economic implications of this tradition are examined in great detail below. Once established, this coastal network would persist through the turbulent transitional period between the Classic and Postclassic periods.