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Shifting patterns of obsidian exchange in postclassic Oaxaca, Mexico

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Article of journalLevine, Marc N.; Joyce, Arthur A.; Glascock, Michael D. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Department of Anthropology, Estados Unidos; University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Anthropology, Estados Unidos; University of Missouri, Research Reactor Center, Estados Unidos). Shifting patterns of obsidian exchange in postclassic Oaxaca, Mexico.  / Patrones de cambio en el intercambio de obsidiana en el postclásico de Oaxaca, México Ancient Mesoamerica, 2011 vol. 22 no. 1 p. 123-133. Keywords:
Archaeology | History
Cultura mesoamericana / intercambio comercial / obsidiana
Pre-hispanic period


In this paper, we present a diachronic analysis of obsidian procurement patterns during the Postclassic period in the Lower Río Verde region of Oaxaca. The study is based on x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and visual analysis of obsidian artifacts from excavated household contexts at Early Postclassic (a.d. 800–1100) Río Viejo and Late Postclassic (a.d. 1100–1522) Tututepec (Yucu Dzaa). We report the presence of at least six sources of obsidian imported to the lower Río Verde region in the Early Postclassic, whereas during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of the Late Postclassic, the local assemblage was dominated by obsidian from Pico de Orizaba and Pachuca. Changes in obsidian procurement patterns in the lower Río Verde region through time are interpreted in light of sociopolitical change at the local, regional, and macroregional scales. The study represents the most detailed analysis of Postclassic period obsidian exchange yet reported from Oaxaca.

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