Browse Exhibits (1 total)

Chupicuaro: Ceramics of West Mexico

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Chupícuaro is an archaeological culture best known for its beautiful polychrome (multi-colored) ceramics. Chupícuaro’s main archaeological site is located in the north-central Mexican state of Guanajuato. It sits on the hills above the River Lerma and its tributary Coroneo or Tiger River, about seven miles from the city Acámbaro. The site dates from approximately 500 BC to AD 1 in the Late Pre-Classic or Formative period.

Excavation of Chupícuaro’s main site was conducted in 1946 in response to the danger of flooding of the area due to the construction of the Solís Dam on the River Lerma. Nearly 400 burials were excavated, in which were found offerings of ceramics, figurines, jewelry, weapons, musical instruments, and other valuable items.

The ceramics of Chupícuaro are vessels and figurines with striking geometric designs in red, black, brown, and buff (the natural brown/tan color of the clay). They also sometimes include anthropomorphic (human) and zoomorphic (animal) effigy forms. The vessels appear in a variety of forms, including the characteristic “spider-leg” tripod. The forms and decorations of these vessels, in addition to data describing the contexts and locations where they were found, are useful to understand the chronology (relative dating), ideology (religious and folk beliefs), and economics (trade relations between areas of ancient Mexico) of ancient Chupícuaro.


The exhibit is divided into four main sections. Navigate directly to:

Chupícuaro Excavation History – Discusses the excavation of Chupícuaro’s main site, the artifacts that were found there, artifacts recovered through looting, scholarly and popular discussion of the artifacts, and the further archaeological work needed to better understand the people of Chupícuaro.

Chupícuaro Society – Discusses the environment, history, and daily life (diet, homes, beliefs, politics, and economics) of the Chupícuaro people.

Chupícuaro Ceramics – Examines Chupícuaro ceramics in terms of their form, color, decoration, meaning, chronology, and influence of the ceramics of surrounding regions.

Gallery – Displays Chupícuaro ceramic artifacts from the Miami University Department of Anthropology collection with individual descriptions, 3D models, and full-color photographs.

Or click on Introduction in the side bar to view the entire exhibit from the beginning. 


Read on to discover more about Chupícuaro art, history, and archaeology!


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