INTER-SECTION Volume II - Page 32

| Marie M . Kolbenstetter |
tween 550 CE and the contact period . I will finally present three case studies from which procurement and redistribution models will be drawn . Those will in return be linked to different ecological surroundings . I will subsequently address diachronic changes observed in salt production and mollusc foraging in the region .
Background to the Research
Geographical and Environmental Setting The Gulf of Fonseca is situated on the Pacific Coast of Central America ( fig . 2 ). This body of water is shared between three nations : El Salvador to the north , Honduras to the east and Nicaragua to the south . The Gulf is environmentally diverse . Aside from the numerous volcanic islands in the waterway , the Gulf ’ s littoral consists of two ecologically distinct zones . At the bottom of the mountains in El Salvador , an alluvial plain is traversed by several rivers . This plain then transitions into mangrove forests , home to a complex network of estuaries ( Baudez 1973 , 509 ). On the Nicaraguan side , the plain is dominated by a volcano , the Cosiguina . This diverse environment certainly offered advantages to dwellers ; the naturally saline waters are rich in molluscs , and the volcanic activity produced fertile soils . The Gulf itself offers a natural harbour , and the numerous estuaries and rivers provide an inland connection .
Chronology The chronology for the Gulf was established in 1966 by Claude Baudez and will be utilized within this paper ( fig . 1 ). It is based on Baudez ’ survey , test pitting and excavation of 20 different sites in the Honduran portion of the Gulf , from which he was able to establish a ceramic sequence . Through the comparison of this sequence to other existant sequences in Honduras , along with carbon dating , this chronology was established . This is the only chronological framework available for the region of the Gulf of Fonseca .
Cultural Landscape It has proven difficult for scholars to establish with certainty the date of arrival of individual groups in the Gulf of Fonseca , as in much of Lower Central America little research has been conducted and the obtained results are inconclusive to prove such migrations . Nonetheless , there is evidence of linguistic diversity at the time of conquest in the Gulf of Fonseca region ( Brown 2013 , 15 ; Gomez 2010 , 13 ; Healy 1984 , 116 ).
Figure 1 . Chronology of the Gulf of Fonseca compared to Mesoamerican Chronology ( after Baudez 1970 , 221 )
At time of contact , the presence of Lenca and Matagalpan speakers was recorded around eastern El Salvador and southern Honduras ( Healy 1984:116 ), as reported by colonial sources . While Nahua speakers were also documented in the region at time of conquest , it is not possible with the available data to assert that their presence was due to a large migration .
There has been a long and still ongoing debate concerning the existence of migrations into the region during the Fonseca Phase . Based on tentative ethnolinguistic and archaeological evidence , it is believed that Oto-Manguean groups replaced the influence of the Lenca people around the Gulf in the as early as 800 CE ( Chapman 1960 ; Martinez 1979 ; Healy 1980 : 335-37 and 1984:116 ). It has also been proposed that Nahua speakers entered the region during a later migration wave from Central Mexico . The existence and date for this migration is also frequently contested , as the changes identified in the archaeological record cannot be linked with certainty to the arrival of new groups in the region ( i . e . Constenla 1991 , 1994 ; Lothrop 1926 ; Haberland 1986 ; Healy 1980 , 20-21 ; Salgado 1996 , 21 ; Niemel 2003 , 16 ; Steinbrenner 2010 , 80 ). They are believed to have coexisted alongside the Chorotega people in the Early Postclassic within the territory surrounding the Gulf of Fonseca .