Ceramic stamp. AD 1150–1528. Huexotla, Valley of Mexico, Mexico. Latin American Archaeology, Winter Collection. UMMAA 56311.

Ceramic stamps have a long history in pre-Columbian Mexico. They first appeared in Early Formative villages (1800–1200 BC) and continued through the Late Aztec period (16th century AD). This broken stamp comes from the site of Huexotla, the center of a city-state in the Valley of Mexico that was incorporated into the Aztec empire in the early 15th century AD. Stamps were used to decorate clothing, ceramic vessels, and even human bodies. Repeating geometric motifs are common; stamps depicting monkeys, birds, and other animals are also found. This stamp was probably a surface find, but stamps are often found in burial contexts, suggesting they were valued objects. 

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In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.