Matching Items (9)

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Grinding Stones at Postclassic Sites in Morelos and the Toluca Valley

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This thesis examines the grinding stone fragments found at the archaeological sites of Calixtlahuaca, Yautepec, Cuexcomate and Capilco; the first in the Toluca Valley, and the latter three from the

This thesis examines the grinding stone fragments found at the archaeological sites of Calixtlahuaca, Yautepec, Cuexcomate and Capilco; the first in the Toluca Valley, and the latter three from the state of Morelos, all in Mexico. General patterns in grinding stone distribution within and between the sites are explored and an analysis comparing the porosity of stones to imported ceramics (as a wealth index) is attempted. Within the grinding stone assemblage, there is some suggestion that the Aztec conquest may have impacted artifact morphology and distribution, likely as a result of increasing resource obligations due to tribute or growing populations.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Creating community: ancient Maya mortuary practice at mid-level sites in the Belize River Valley, Belize

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This research focuses upon the intersection of social complexity and leadership among commoners in complex societies as expressed through mortuary ritual. I study how ideology, materialized through treatment of the

This research focuses upon the intersection of social complexity and leadership among commoners in complex societies as expressed through mortuary ritual. I study how ideology, materialized through treatment of the deceased body, was a potential source of power among commoners in ancient Maya society and how this materialization changed through time. Mortuary data are drawn from mid-level settlements of the Belize River Valley, located in western Belize within the eastern Maya lowlands. The primary research question addresses whether mid-level leaders in the Belize River Valley targeted certain human bodies for ancestral veneration through tomb re-entry and ritual interaction with skeletal remains. The ritual-political strategy of mid-level leaders is measured using archaeothanatology, an analysis of grave taphonomy based on forensic data, to reconstruct cultural beliefs about death based on treatment of deceased bodies, radiogenic strontium isotope analysis to reconstruct residential history, and analysis of dental metrics to assess biological kinship. While preservation of osseous material was poor, results indicate that the frequency of disarticulated and secondary burials was higher in eastern structures than in other locales, although eastern structures were not the only loci of these types of deposits. Overall, it does not seem like secondary burials were regularly and purposefully created for use as ritual objects or display. Radiogenic strontium isotope data enrich this analysis by showing that eastern structures were not a burial locale exclusive to individuals who spent their childhood in the Belize Valley. Data from upper-level eastern structures also suggests that within that part of society local birth did not guarantee interment in a local manner; perhaps the social network created during one's life shaped treatment in death more than residential origin. Biological distance analyses were inconclusive due to missing data. Comparison of mortuary practices to nearby regions shows distinct mortuary patterning across space and time. This is consistent with reconstructions of ancient Maya sociopolitical organization as regionally diverse and moderately integrated.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Ritual Violence and the Perception of Social Difference: Migration and Human Sacrifice in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico

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Archaeologists have long contended that large-scale human migrations played an essential role in the cultural development of pre-Hispanic central Mexico. During the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), migration is implicated in

Archaeologists have long contended that large-scale human migrations played an essential role in the cultural development of pre-Hispanic central Mexico. During the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), migration is implicated in the appearance of new forms of material culture, sociopolitical disruptions, and the emergence of new regional polities. Sweeping social changes accompanied these developments, including demographic reorganization and increased levels of violence. Research across the social sciences finds that violence directed at individuals perceived as categorically distinct also typically increases during such periods of socio-political upheaval. This dissertation investigates identity-based violence in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico to consider how diverse social identities contributed to the selection of victims of ritual violence.

This research examines the skeletal remains from a sacrificial deposit at the Epiclassic shrine site of Non-Grid 4 in the Basin of Mexico, where a minimum of 180 human crania were interred as ritual offerings. The project reconstructs patterns of paleomobility and biological relatedness to determine whether individuals with distinct categorical social identities were more likely to become victims of human sacrifice. It answers the questions: (1) Were the sacrificed individuals predominantly locals who lived in the Basin of Mexico throughout their lives?; (2) Were the sacrificed individuals comprised of a single kin-group biologically continuous with pre-extant populations in the Basin of Mexico?; and (3) If victims were migrants biologically discontinuous with antecedent populations, from where in ancient Mesoamerica did they originate?

Results indicate that a majority of sacrificial victims were immigrants originating north and south of the Basin of Mexico. Biogeochemical analyses of sacrificed individuals find that 80% are non-local migrants into the Basin, suggesting that they were likely targeted for violence based on their divergent residential histories. Multi-scalar biodistance analyses of Non-Grid 4 sacrificial victims demonstrate that they represent two biologically distinct groups. There was evidence, however, for both biological continuity among victims and pre-extant central Mexican populations, as well as for migration from northern and southern Mexico. This project therefore not only improves knowledge of migration during the central Mexican Epiclassic, but also contributes to broader anthropological understandings of the social context of violence.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Dietary practices, socioeconomic status, and social mobility at Teotihuacan, Mexico

Description

This project investigates social mobility in premodern states through a contextualized program of isotopic research at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Due to the lack of a concrete methodology

This project investigates social mobility in premodern states through a contextualized program of isotopic research at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Due to the lack of a concrete methodology that can be used to recover information concerning rates of social mobility from archaeological remains, many traditional archaeological models either ignore social mobility or assume that boundaries between socioeconomic strata within archaic states were largely impermeable. In this research, I develop a new methodological approach to the identification of socially mobile individuals in the archaeological record based on changes in the diet across the lifecourse that can be detected through isotopic paleodietary indicators. Drawing upon cross-cultural research surrounding the relationship between diet and socioeconomic status and established methodologies in the biogeochemical analysis of human remains, this methodological approach provides a basis for broader comparative studies evaluating the nature of social mobility within archaic states.

I then test the practical application of this methodology by applying it to a mortuary sample including individuals from distinctive socioeconomic groups from the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan, Mexico. The study recovers and uses the dietary isotope ratios within bone and tooth samples from 81 individuals buried throughout the city 1) to define the dietary correlates of wealth and status at Teotihuacan and 2) to identify individuals displaying lifetime dietary changes consistent with changes in socioeconomic status. In addition to supplementing our current understanding of Teotihuacan foodways and processes of geographic migration into the city, I identify an adult male individual from the La Ventilla B apartment compound who displays dietary changes throughout his life that are consistent with downward socioeconomic mobility from a high status socioeconomic group in early adolescence to an intermediate status group later in adulthood. I conclude by identifying ways to move forward with the comparative archaeology of socioeconomic mobility in premodern contexts and highlight the applicability of archaeological information to our understanding of present-day processes of social mobility.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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The effects of Aztec conquest on provincial commoner households at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico

Description

This archaeological study analyses households at the Postclassic site of Calixtlahuaca (State of Mexico, Mexico), to evaluate the directness and collectiveness of local and imperial Aztec rule based on their

This archaeological study analyses households at the Postclassic site of Calixtlahuaca (State of Mexico, Mexico), to evaluate the directness and collectiveness of local and imperial Aztec rule based on their effects on the commoner population. Scholars are divided as to whether Aztec rule was generally positive (due to opportunities for economic and cultural interaction) or negative (due to taxation and loss of autonomy). Contexts at Calixtlahuaca date to three periods, the Dongu (AD 1130-1370), Ninupi (1370-1450), and Yata (1450-1530) phases. The first two phases show the pre-Aztec trajectory, which is compared to the final period under Aztec rule to disentangle general trends toward regional integration from Aztec effects. Each phase includes six excavated households.

I assess economic changes on three dimensions: foreign trade, local craft production, and household wealth. Trade is evaluated for obsidian and ceramics (INAA, petrography, type classification) and local crafting is evaluated for ceramic, lithic, textile, and molded ceramic items. Wealth is measured using all excavated artifacts, with the relative values of artifact classes based on Colonial Nahuatl wills. Prior to Aztec rule, trade was increasing and diversifying, but craft production was low. Under Aztec rule, trade reoriented toward the Basin of Mexico, craft production remained low, and household wealth stabilized. Pre-Aztec inter-household variation for all dimensions is low, before increasing during the Yata phase.

Cultural changes are evaluated for ritual activities and foodways. I evaluate the degree of interhousehold variability, the overall similarity to other parts of Central Mexico, the degree of change under Aztec rule, and immigration versus emulation as potential explanations for that change. Evaluation is based on the distinction between high and low visibility objects and practices. The Dongu and Ninupi phase households at Calixtlahuaca were culturally homogeneous and regionally distinctive. During the Yata phase, the site became moderately more Aztec, but this change was unevenly distributed among households.

Together, the economic and cultural patterns at Calixtlahuaca indicate that the pre-Aztec local organization of power was relatively collective, but that this was partially overlaid by relatively indirect and non-collective Aztec imperial rule, with mildly negative effects.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Neighborhood socio-spatial organization at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico

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This dissertation research examines neighborhood socio-spatial organization at Calixtlahuaca, a Postclassic (1100-1520 AD) urban center in highland Mesoamerica. Neighborhoods are small spatial units where residents interact at a face to

This dissertation research examines neighborhood socio-spatial organization at Calixtlahuaca, a Postclassic (1100-1520 AD) urban center in highland Mesoamerica. Neighborhoods are small spatial units where residents interact at a face to face level in the process of daily activities. How were Calixtlahuaca's neighborhoods organized socio-spatially? Were they homogenous or did each neighborhood contain a mixture of different social and economic groups? Calixtlahuaca was a large Aztec-period city-state located in the frontier region between the Tarascan and Triple Alliance empires. As the capital of the Maltazinco polity, administrative, ritual, and economic activities were located here. Four languages, Matlazinca, Mazahua, Otomi, and Nahua, were spoken by the city's inhabitants. The combination of political geography and an unusual urban center provides an opportunity for examining complex neighborhood socio-spatial organization in a Mesoamerican setting. The evidence presented in this dissertation shows that Calixtlahuaca's neighborhoods were socially heterogeneous spaces were residents from multiple social groups and classes coexisted. This further suggests that the cross-cutting ties between neighborhood residents had more impact on influencing certain economic choices than close proximity in residential location. Market areas were the one way that the city was clearly divided spatially into two regions but consumer preferences within the confines of economic resources were similar in both regions. This research employs artifact collections recovered during the Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project surface survey. The consumption practices of the residents of Calixtlahuaca are used to define membership into several social groups in order to determine the socio-spatial pattern of the city. Economic aspects of city life are examined through the identification of separate market areas that relate to neighborhood patterns. Excavation data was also examined as an alternate line of evidence for each case. The project contributes to the sparse literature on preindustrial urban neighborhoods. Research into social segregation or social clustering in modern cities is plentiful, but few studies examine the patterns of social clustering in the past. Most research in Mesoamerica focuses on the clustering of social class.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Regional interaction and world-system incorporation during the Classic Period in the western Sierra de los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico

Description

This archaeological study applies a world-systems-based approach in evaluating regional economic interaction among independent polities. It focuses specifically on interaction between local polities and Teotihuacan-affiliated populations in the Western Tuxtlas

This archaeological study applies a world-systems-based approach in evaluating regional economic interaction among independent polities. It focuses specifically on interaction between local polities and Teotihuacan-affiliated populations in the Western Tuxtlas Region of the Gulf Coast of Veracruz, Mexico during the Early Classic and Middle Classic periods (A.D. 300-650). Changes in regional economics followed the founding of the Teotihuacan-linked center of Matacapan in the Catemaco River Valley. To assess these changes, this research characterizes the consumption of Matacapan-produced imports in two independent neighboring polities to reconstruct regional distribution networks and assess Matacapan’s impact on the region.

The Central Highland capital of Teotihuacan had variable influence throughout Mesoamerica. One pronounced occurrence of this influence has been identified at Matacapan, which displays strong material culture and architectural connections to Teotihuacan. This research therefore employs a modified world-systems framework which removes the assumption of hierarchy and instead focuses on regional interaction within the periphery. It views the establishment of regional distribution networks centered at Matacapan that articulate with the two neighboring polities as a form of incorporation, the process wherein external groups are brought into a system.

To assess incorporation, four potential Matacapan-centered networks are analyzed. These networks consist of the distribution of two ceramic types and obsidian blades produced from two sources. Artifacts from survey, surface collection, and excavation were subjected to ceramic analysis, lithic analysis, petrography, neutron activation analysis, and X-ray fluorescence analysis to identify source, form, and production technology. These data aid in determining network participation in each polity. By assessing importation in these local polities, the form and degree of their incorporation will be identified.

Incorporation of indigenous polities into regional networks was not uniform within the Western Tuxtlas Region. Two Matacapan-centered networks were identified, and they differ in form and extent. One indigenous polity, Teotepec, participated in both networks while the other, Totocapan, participated in one. I argue that Teotepec’s incorporation into a second network was strategic in that it was mutually beneficial to both involved parties. Additionally, indigenous Tuxtlas’ polities were able to negotiate interaction with their Teotihuacan-affiliated neighbor for desired goods without forfeiting political or cultural autonomy.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Social Identification and the Capacity for Collective Action at La Quemada, Zacatecas, Mexico (600-800 CE)

Description

Unlike traditional frontier studies that treat the frontier as monolithic and focus on core-periphery interactions involving colonialism and acculturation, this dissertation seeks to characterize the internal social dynamics of frontier

Unlike traditional frontier studies that treat the frontier as monolithic and focus on core-periphery interactions involving colonialism and acculturation, this dissertation seeks to characterize the internal social dynamics of frontier regions using the collective social identification framework. Concentrating on the intraregional and intrasite scales makes it possible to directly evaluate the bottom-up processes involved in the formation of collective social identities within frontier zones (i.e., sociopolitical development divorced from core-centric actions). Derived from social science research aimed at understanding the development of modern nation-states and social movements, the theoretical framework implemented in this research centers on the idea that sustained collective action depends on the degree to which groups of individuals share networks of social interaction (i.e., relational identification) and recognize membership in the same social categories (i.e. categorical identification). Applying this model to the site of La Quemada, Zacatecas, Mexico, provides a methodology for assessing the potential for collective action through time and across spatial scales based on the degree of categorical commonality or the strength of relational connections among the site’s inhabitants.

Dating to the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), La Quemada was founded during the cultural florescence of the northern frontier of Mesoamerica, but the site was abandoned ca. 800-900 CE while other polities persisted. Therefore, it is hypothesized that a change in how the occupants of La Quemada identified with one another decreased the potential for collective action over time and contributed to site abandonment. Material proxies in the form of ceramic-style categories (i.e., shared styles expressing categorical affiliation) and fabric classes (i.e., shared pastes indicative of relational networks) are used to assess the temporal and spatial consistency of social identification at multiple socio-spatial scales within the site of La Quemada. The results of this research, however, find that despite fluctuations in the expression of categorical identification among La Quemada residents it was the strength of their relational ties that gave them the capacity to recover. Furthermore, the capacity for collective action was high preceding site abandonment, suggesting that a disruption in the social fabric of La Quemada did not contribute to its decline and abandonment.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Craft production and socio-economic marginality: living on the periphery of urban Teotihuacan

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This dissertation investigates socio-economic strategies adopted by a small craftworking community situated on the edge of one of the earliest, largest and most complex cities in Mesoamerica. The focus of

This dissertation investigates socio-economic strategies adopted by a small craftworking community situated on the edge of one of the earliest, largest and most complex cities in Mesoamerica. The focus of investigation is San Jose 520, a hamlet located on the southeastern margin of Teotihuacan and occupied primarily during the Tlamimilolpa and Xolalpan phases (ca. A.D. 200-500). Its inhabitants were potters of low socio-economic status living in small, architecturally simple residential structures. The investigation complements much more numerous studies of higher-status groups residing in Teotihuacan's famous apartment compounds, much larger and architecturally more formal structures clustered primarily within built-up parts of the city. The founding residents of San Jose 520 might have initially been immigrants, arriving at Teotihuacan after most of the city was already filled in and occupied, and therefore settling in a spatially marginal area with limited potential for farming. Archaeological field and lab investigations demonstrate that they adopted ceramic production as a strategy of economic survival in a competitive urban system. They specialized in the manufacture of the outcurving bowl--a vessel widely used at Teotihuacan for food service and certain ritual activities. At smaller scales of production, these potters also made other types of serving and ritual vessels and figurines. Evidence relating to mortuary and domestic rituals indicates participation in a number of the rituals typical of other sectors of Teotihuacan society, but not all. The most general goal of this investigation is to improve understanding of how socially and spatially marginal peoples possessing low economic status developed and exploited viable economic niches in pre-industrial urban systems. The San Jose 520 potters appear dynamic in their economic adjustment--in part by enhancing their production system over time through the adoption of various specialized pot-making tools (some as yet undocumented for Teotihuacan), and to some extent by modifying their product line, they survived for many generations. Nevertheless, they never succeeded in significantly raising their economic status; at the time of their apparent disappearance sometime in the Xolalpan phase, these potters and their households continued to constitute a case study of urban poverty in a massive pre-industrial city.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011