Matching Items (18)

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Exploration and exploitation in the macrohistory of the pre-Hispanic Pueblo Southwest

Description

Cycles of demographic and organizational change are well documented in Neolithic societies, but the social and ecological processes underlying them are debated. Such periodicities are implicit in the “Pecos classification,”

Cycles of demographic and organizational change are well documented in Neolithic societies, but the social and ecological processes underlying them are debated. Such periodicities are implicit in the “Pecos classification,” a chronology for the pre-Hispanic U.S. Southwest introduced in Science in 1927 which is still widely used. To understand these periodicities, we analyzed 29,311 archaeological tree-ring dates from A.D. 500 to 1400 in the context of a novel high spatial resolution, annual reconstruction of the maize dry-farming niche for this same period. We argue that each of the Pecos periods initially incorporates an “exploration” phase, followed by a phase of “exploitation” of niches that are simultaneously ecological, cultural, and organizational. Exploitation phases characterized by demographic expansion and aggregation ended with climatically driven downturns in agricultural favorability, undermining important bases for social consensus. Exploration phases were times of socio-ecological niche discovery and development.

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  • 2016-04-01

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Resisting Diversity: a Long-Term Archaeological Study

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The value of “diversity” in social and ecological systems is frequently asserted in academic and policy literature. Diversity is thought to enhance the resilience of social-ecological systems to varied and

The value of “diversity” in social and ecological systems is frequently asserted in academic and policy literature. Diversity is thought to enhance the resilience of social-ecological systems to varied and potentially uncertain future conditions. Yet there are trade-offs; diversity in ecological and social domains has costs as well as benefits. In this paper, we examine social diversity, specifically its costs and benefits in terms of decision making in middle range or tribal societies, using archaeological evidence spanning seven centuries from four regions of the U.S. Southwest. In these nonstate societies, social diversity may detract from the capacity for collective action. We ask whether as population density increases, making collective action increasingly difficult, social diversity declines. Further, we trace the cases of low diversity and high population density across our long-temporal sequences to see how they associate with the most dramatic transformations. This latter analysis is inspired by the claim in resilience literature that reduction of diversity may contribute to reduction in resilience to varied conditions. Using archaeological data, we examine social diversity and conformity through the material culture (pottery styles) of past societies. Our research contributes to an enhanced understanding of how population density may limit social diversity and suggests the role that this association may play in some contexts of dramatic social transformation.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Social Diversity and Public Interaction Space in the Classic and Postclassic Mimbres

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This paper studies the change in social diversity and interaction space from the Classic to Postclassic periods in the Mimbres Valley and East Mimbres Area. Between the Classic and Postclassic

This paper studies the change in social diversity and interaction space from the Classic to Postclassic periods in the Mimbres Valley and East Mimbres Area. Between the Classic and Postclassic periods the Mimbres region of the American Southwest exhibits an increase in diversity of ceramic wares. Previous research suggests that increased diversity of ceramics indicates a more diverse community, which could pose challenges to local social interaction (Nelson et al. 2011). I am interested in whether the architecture of plazas, focal points of communities' social structures, change in response to the growing social diversity. To examine this, I quantify the diversity of painted ceramics at Classic and Postclassic villages as well as the extent of the enclosure of plazas. I find that there is a definite shift towards greater plaza enclosure between the Classic and Postclassic periods. I conclude this paper with a discussion of possible interpretations of this trend regarding the social reactions of Mimbres communities to the changes which reshaped the region between the Classic and Postclassic periods.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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RITUAL EQUIVALENCY OF MACAWS AND COPPER BELLS IN MESOAMERICA AND THE SOUTHWESTERN UNITED STATES

Description

This paper contributes to an understanding of the connections among indigenous societies in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and the Southwest of the United States by investigating the depositional contexts of two items

This paper contributes to an understanding of the connections among indigenous societies in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and the Southwest of the United States by investigating the depositional contexts of two items of Mesoamerican origin, copper bells and macaws. The analysis shows that Southwestern peoples possibly emulated Mesoamerican ritual practices imperfectly; macaw iconography and the use of copper bells are similar in both regions, but the ritual burial of sacrificed macaws is a solely Southwestern practice.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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The form, aspect, and definition of Anglo-Saxon identity: a study of medieval British words, deeds, and things

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In this dissertation I argue that medieval peoples used a different style of identity from those applied to them by later scholarship and question the relevance of applying modern terms

In this dissertation I argue that medieval peoples used a different style of identity from those applied to them by later scholarship and question the relevance of applying modern terms for identity groups (e.g., ethnicity or nationality) to the description of medieval social units. I propose we think of identity as a social construct comprised of three articulating facets, which I call: form, aspect, and definition. The form of identity is its manifestation in behavior and symbolic markers; its aspect is the perception of these forms by people; and its definition is the combination of these perceptions into a social category. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, I examine each facet individually before synthesizing the results. I study the form of identity through an analysis of styles in material culture using a consensus analysis to determine how well objects decorated with the same motif do communicating a shared idea to members of a social group. I explore the aspect of identity through a whole-corpus linguistics approach to Old English, in which I study the co-occurrence of words for "a people" and other semantic fields to refine our understanding of Old English perceptions of social identity. Finally, I investigate the definition of identity by comparing narrations of identity in Old English verse and prose in order to see how authors were able to use vocabulary and imagery to describe the identity of their subjects. In my conclusion I demonstrate that the people of Medieval England had a concept of identity based on the metaphor of a village meeting or a feast, in which smaller, innate groups were thought to aggregate into new heterogeneous wholes. The nature and scale of these groups changed over the course of the Anglo-Saxon period but some of the names used to refer to these units remained constant. Thus, I suggest scholars need to apply a culturally relevant concept of identity when describing the people who lived in Medieval Britain, one that might not match contemporary models, and be cognizant of the fact that medieval groups were not the same as their modern descendants.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Innovation in context: the process of stylistic change among Hohokam potters in the Phoenix Basin, A.D. 800-1300

Description

The causes and consequences of stylistic change have been a concern of archaeologists over the past several decades. The actual process of stylistic innovation, however, has received less attention. This

The causes and consequences of stylistic change have been a concern of archaeologists over the past several decades. The actual process of stylistic innovation, however, has received less attention. This project explores the relationship between the process of stylistic innovation on decorated pottery and the social context in which it occurred in the Hohokam area of south-central Arizona between A.D. 800 and 1300. This interval was punctuated by three episodes of reorganization, each of which was characterized to varying degrees by significant shifts in ideology, economics, and politics. Each reorganization episode was also accompanied by a rapid profusion of stylistic innovation on buff ware pottery. The goal of this study was to build a framework to understand the variation in the process of innovation as a response to different incentives and opportunities perceived in the changing social environment. By bringing stylistic analyses and provenance data together for the first time in Hohokam red-on-buff studies, I investigated how the process of innovation was variously influenced by social reorganizations at three different periods of time: the 9th, 11th, and 12th centuries A.D. Four variables were used to evaluate the process of innovation at each temporal period: 1) The origin of a stylistic invention, 2) the rate of its adoption, 3) the pattern of its adoption, and 4) the uniformity of its adoption among all buff ware potting communities. To accomplish the task, stylistic innovations and provenance were recorded on over 3,700 red-on-buff sherds were analyzed from 20 sites in the Phoenix Basin. The innovation process was found to vary with each reorganization episode, but often in different ways than expected. The results revealed the complexity and unpredictability of the process of stylistic innovation among the Hohokam. They also challenged some assumptions archaeologists have made regarding the scale and extent of the changes associated with some of the reorganization episodes. The variables utilized to measure the innovation process were found to be effective at providing a composite picture of that process, and thus warrant broader application to other archaeological contexts.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Traveling monastic paths : mobility and religion in medieval Ireland at five early and late medieval Irish monasteries

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Mobility is an important aspect of the lives of religious individuals described by medieval texts in early and late medieval Ireland, and biogeochemical methods can be used to detect mobility

Mobility is an important aspect of the lives of religious individuals described by medieval texts in early and late medieval Ireland, and biogeochemical methods can be used to detect mobility in archaeological populations. Stories are recorded of monks and nuns traveling and founding monasteries across Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, and other areas of Europe. However, these texts rarely address the quotidian lives of average monks and nuns who lived in monastic communities. This dissertation seeks to understand if travel was a typical part of the experiences of religious and lay people in early and late medieval Ireland. It also aims to increase understanding of how monastic communities related to the local lay communities, including addressing if the monastery was populated by those who grew up in the local area. Another methodological aim of this dissertation is to advance the field of archaeological biogeochemistry by (1) adding to the bioavailable strontium baseline in Ireland and (2) quantifying the contribution of ocean-derived strontium to coastal environments. These topics are explored through the biogeochemical analysis of 88 individuals buried at 5 early and late medieval monasteries in Ireland and the analysis of a total of 85 plant samples from four counties in Ireland. The three papers in this dissertation present: (1) a summary of the mobility of religious and lay people buried at the monasteries (Chapter 2), (2) a case study presenting evidence for fosterage of a local child at the early medieval monastery of Illaunloughan, Co. Kerry (Chapter 3), and (3) a study designed to quantify the impact of sea spray on bioavailable strontium in coastal environments (Chapter 4). The majority of lay and religious individuals studied were estimated to be local, indicating that medieval Irish Christianity was strongly rooted in the local community. The study of ocean-derived strontium in a coastal environment indicates that sea spray has a non-uniform impact on bioavailable strontium in coastal regions. These findings shed new light on medieval monastic and lay life in Ireland through the application of biogeochemical methods, contributing to the growth of the field of archaeological chemistry in Ireland.

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Date Created
  • 2018

Toward a Theory of Social Stability: Investigating Relationships Among the Valencian Bronze Age Peoples of Mediterranean Iberia

Description

What causes social systems to resist change? Studies of the emergence of social complexity in archaeology have focused primarily on drivers of change with much less emphasis on drivers of

What causes social systems to resist change? Studies of the emergence of social complexity in archaeology have focused primarily on drivers of change with much less emphasis on drivers of stability. Social stability, or the persistence of social systems, is an essential feature without which human society is not possible. By combining quantitative modeling (Exponential Random Graph Modeling) and the comparative archaeological record where the social system is represented by networks of relations between settlements, this research tests several hypotheses about social and geographic drivers of social stability with an explicit focus on a better understanding of contexts and processes that resist change. The Valencian Bronze Age in eastern Spain along the Mediterranean, where prior research appears to indicate little, regional social change for 700 years, serves as a case study.

The results suggest that social stability depends on a society’s ability to integrate change and promote interdependency. In part, this ability is constrained or promoted by social structure and the different, relationship dependencies among individuals that lead to a particular social structure. Four elements are important to constraining or promoting social stability—structural cohesion, transitivity and social dependency, geographic isolation, and types of exchange. Through the framework provided in this research, an archaeologist can recognize patterns in the archaeological data that reflect and promote social stability, or lead to collapse.

Results based on comparisons between the social networks of the Northern and Southern regions of the Valencian Bronze Age show that the Southern Region’s social structure was less stable through time. The Southern Region’s social structure consisted of competing cores of exchange. This type of competition often leads to power imbalances, conflict, and instability. Strong dependencies on the neighboring Argaric during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages and contributed to the Southern Region’s inability to maintain social stability after the Argaric collapsed. Furthermore, the Southern Region participated in the exchange of more complex technology—bronze. Complex technologies produce networks with hub and spoke structures highly vulnerable to collapse after the destruction of a hub. The Northern Region’s social structure remained structurally cohesive through time, promoting social stability.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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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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Identity and social transformation in the prehispanic Cibola world: A.D. 1150-1325

Description

This dissertation explores the interrelationships between periods of rapid social change and regional-scale social identities. Using archaeological data from the Cibola region of the U.S. Southwest, I examine changes in

This dissertation explores the interrelationships between periods of rapid social change and regional-scale social identities. Using archaeological data from the Cibola region of the U.S. Southwest, I examine changes in the nature and scale of social identification across a period of demographic and social upheaval (A.D. 1150-1325) marked by a shift from dispersed hamlets, to clustered villages, and eventually, to a small number of large nucleated towns. This transformation in settlement organization entailed a fundamental reconfiguration of the relationships among households and communities across an area of over 45,000 km2. This study draws on contemporary social theory focused on political mobilization and social movements to investigate how changes in the process of social identification can influence the potential for such widespread and rapid transformations. This framework suggests that social identification can be divided into two primary modes; relational identification based on networks of interaction among individuals, and categorical identification based on active expressions of affiliation with social roles or groups to which one can belong. Importantly, trajectories of social transformations are closely tied to the interrelationships between these two modes of identification. This study has three components: Social transformation, indicated by rapid demographic and settlement transitions, is documented through settlement studies drawing on a massive, regional database including over 1,500 sites. Relational identities, indicated by networks of interaction, are documented through ceramic compositional analyses of over 2,100 potsherds, technological characterizations of over 2,000 utilitarian ceramic vessels, and the distributions of different types of domestic architectural features across the region. Categorical identities are documented through stylistic comparisons of a large sample of polychrome ceramic vessels and characterizations of public architectural spaces. Contrary to assumptions underlying traditional approaches to social identity in archaeology, this study demonstrates that relational and categorical identities are not necessarily coterminous. Importantly, however, the strongest patterns of relational connections prior to the period of social transformation in the Cibola region largely predict the scale and structure of changes associated with that transformation. This suggests that the social transformation in the Cibola region, despite occurring in a non-state setting, was governed by similar dynamics to well-documented contemporary examples.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011