The Conundrum of Volcanic Ash temper in Ancient Maya Ceramics
Materials science of ceramics is the bailiwick of Charles Kolb, who we honor here. Our work with volcanic ash tempered pottery in the Maya area is well known to him. He would assume, as we did, that physicochemical analyses would uncover the origins of Maya ceramic composition. In our
case physicochemical analyses have opened up more questions that it has resolved. Each deeper and more resolute and detailed study of the volcanic ash temper has, like a matryoshka doll, revealed a more complex and problematic picture. Petrography, microprobe, laser ablation, and now zircon analyses present a conundrum. We will discuss our research process and our results in an effort to enjoin ideas from our colleagues.