Pre-Columbian Conical Clay Pot from Panama

Item PL05 

This Item was Sold on 8 November 2012 for $59

Similar artifacts for sale are often found on the Lithic Artifacts web page. 

Historical Pricing information for this item and similar artifacts can be found at: Historical Artifact Prices.

This Pre-Columbian artifact from the Neolithic period was found on Navy Island in Gatun Lake just south of the Gatun Locks Lake Entrance in the former Panama Canal Zone. As a teenager, I lived in Gatun and I fished along the coast of Navy Island often. In 1966 I discovered an area on the south east shore of Navy Island that used to be a hilltop overlooking the Chagres River before the Panama Canal was constructed. Waves from the pilot boats and ships eroded the red clay shore and exposed Neolithic artifacts that could be picked up on the beach as surface finds. I used to walk up and down this shoreline and collect celts, arrowheads, scrapers and other lithic artifacts whenever I was fishing in this area. This small clay pot is not a lithic artifact, but I am listing it with the lithic artifacts in my catalog because it is the only clay artifact that found out of more than 100 artifacts that were collected over a period of 3 years.

This clay pot is small and it is very heavy. It is filled with mud or stone or something else that I cannot see beneath the dried surface material. I did not want to disturb whatever was inside by removing material. The major diameter is about 6 cm. The shape is conical and the opening has a diameter of approximately 2 cm. The sides are decorated with pre-Columbian art similar to that found on Kuna Indian molas. There are two holes near the top, possibly for suspension with a cord or metal wire handle. Originally, the base had four legs with a rocking chair style of structural support. Three of the legs were damaged before I found it (see photos), but it is still in remarkably good condition for an old artifact. The construction is much more primitive than that of the premium pre-Columbian pots that you find in museums. I think that this is much older than most of the pots that you find in Panama and it is the only pot I have seen from the Atlantic coast.

I brought several of the artifacts that I collected to U.C. Berkeley in 1969 for identification. A professor in the Dept. of Anthropology said that my artifacts resembled similar artifacts in the U.C. Berkeley collection that were dated between 500 B.C. and 1,000 A.D.

Diameter = 63 mm ; Height = 60 mm ; Weight = 112 gm

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