Given, borrowed, bought, stolen: exchange and economic organization in postclassic Sauce and its hinterland in Veracruz, Mexico
This study analyzed archaeological residential inventories from the center of Sauce and its hinterlands to address the possible appearance of markets and the structure of exchange during the Middle Postclassic period (A.D. 1200-1350) in south-central Veracruz, Mexico. Economic development is rarely the result of a coherent strategy either on the part of managing or consuming elites or on the part of the average consumer. Instead, a combination of strategies and overlapping exchange systems provided the context, rather than any one explanation, for how commercial market exchange develops. Identifying the context is challenging because economies have multiple exchange mechanisms, which require clearly defined expectations that separate spatial and network (distributional) data. This separation is vital because different exchange mechanisms such as centralized redistribution versus central-place marketing produce similar spatial patterns. Recent innovations in identifying exchange mechanisms use network (distributional) instead of spatial expectations. Based on this new body of knowledge, new quantitative methods were developed to distinguish between exchange through social networks versus market exchange for individual items based on comparisons of household inventories, later combining this information with spatial and contextual analyses. First, a Bayesian-inspired Monte Carlo computer simulation was designed to identify exchange mechanisms, using all household items including cooking utensils, serving dishes, chipped stone tools, etc., from 65 residential units from Sauce and its hinterland. Next, the socioeconomic rank of households, GIS spatial analyses, and quality assessments of pottery and other items were used to evaluate social and political aspects of exchange and consumption. The results of this study indicated that most products were unrestricted in access, and spatial analyses showed they were acquired in a market near Sauce. Few restrictions on most of the polychromes, chipped stone, and assorted household items (e.g., spindle whorls) lend strong support to commoner household prominence in developing markets. However, there were exceptions. Dull Buff Polychrome was associated with the Sauce center; analyses showed that its access was restricted through social networks. "Cookie-cutter" style figurines and incense burners also showed restriction. Restricted items found in Sauce and wealthier residences indicate enduring political and social inequalities within market development. For Sauce, a combination of elite and commoner household interests was crucial in supporting the growth of commercial exchange rather than a top-down directive.