San Jacinto, on the Caribbean mainland of Colombia, is an important early archaeological site. Its location places it at the crossroads between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Its date, ca. 5,200 to 5,700 years B.P., puts it in the Archaic, a poorly understood period of cultural and ecological transition between the Ice Age hunter-gatherers and the agricultural societies of the modern climate period. During this period, ancient people in the Americas made many innovations that were integrated in the complex societies of later prehistory. In Archaic cultures, these innovations — permanent settlements, zoomorphic art, pottery, food crops, and ground-stone tools, tend to appear disparately. The ancient people of San Jacinto 1 were subtropical foragers who made earthenware ritual pottery. Although not the earliest pottery in the Americas, this certainly is the earliest highly decorated pottery yet known in the Western...

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