Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

The Royal Academy of Spanish Language dictionary defines ceramic as the art of making vessels and other objects in clay, crockery, and porcelain; also as the scientific knowledge about the same objects from the archaeological point of view. Thus, it is the art and science of modeling objects with materials of earth, and with the aide of heat. (Ferrero, 1987:396).

"When clay is dry, it loses the majority of water it contains, but it can absorb it again if it gets wet. When clay is fired, all its water disappears from its molecules when reaching a temperature of 400 degrees Farenheit, and it cannot absorb it again, at which moment it is said that clay has transformed into ceramic." (Bray & Trump, 1970:53). Ceramic is the most common archaeological find, and one of the clearest indicators of cultural differences, affinities, and development. (Bray & Trump, 1970:53).

The Department of Anthropology and History handles two  large and detailed databases on Costa Rican pre-Hispanic ceramic. One of them refers to complete ceramic artifacts, and the other to fragmented ceramic, or sherds. These ceramic materials have been recovered in archaeological context due to research conducted by national and foreign scientists. In Costa Rica, the archaeological registry indicates that the use of ceramic to make objects goes back to approximately 2000 BC

Translation courtesy of Silvia Piza-Tandlich /