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Review Anales de Literatura Hispanoamericana

Ancient Mesoamerica

Review Anuario Brasileño de Estudios Hispánicos

Year: 2013 vol. 24 n. 1

Canuto, Marcello A.; Bell, Ellen E. Archaeological investigations in the El Paraíso valley: the role of secondary centers in the multiethnic landscape of classic period Copan.  / Investigaciones arqueológicas en el valle de El Paraíso: el papel de los centros secundarios en el paisaje multiétnico del período clásico de Copan p. 1-24 Honduras
Época prehispánica

Summary

Investigations of Classic period (a.d. 400–900) settlement in the El Paraíso Valley, western Honduras, have identified a pattern of paired centers that suggests a previously unrecognized model of political organization in the Maya area. In the El Paraíso Valley, the largely contemporary, equally-sized, and proximate centers of El Cafetal and El Paraíso differ radically from one another in their spatial organization, construction techniques, architectural embellishment, use of open space, and portable material culture. Analysis of these differences suggests that El Cafetal was inhabited by an autochthonous population while El Paraíso was founded under the auspices of the Copan dynasty as an administrative outpost. We suggest that the juxtaposition of these two sites results from a regional strategy of sociopolitical integration implemented by Copan rulers that was adapted to the ethnically diverse regions along the edge of the Copan kingdom.

González, Tatiana Loya; Stanton, Travis W. Impacts of politics on material culture: evaluating the yaxuna-coba Sacbe.  / Impactos de la política sobre la cultura material: evaluaciín de la Sacbe yaxuna-coba p. 25-42 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Over the past thirty years, Mayanists have increasingly discussed the relationships between large polities. Advances in our understanding of epigraphy have largely driven this increased focus. Yet in areas where the epigraphic record is less understood, as is the case with the northern Maya lowlands, archaeologists have turned to other data to piece together political relationships. These data often consist of architectural and ceramic styles. Models based on such data generally assume that styles of material culture will cluster among social groups that are more closely knit than others (familial or political ties) or will occur in an area after it has been subordinated by a particular polity. One case where such a model has been applied is the site of Yaxuna, which was connected to the metropolis of Coba by a 100 km-long causeway during the Late Classic period. The difference between this case and others is that not only do the two sites share some aspects of material culture during this period, but we can also physically see that the sites were integrated by an actual road. In most cases where stylistic models have been applied, the possible routes connecting sites do not preserve, making the correlation between styles and social interaction more speculative. In this paper, we reevaluate the Yaxuna-Coba case using a modal analysis of the Arena ceramic group shared by Yaxuna and Coba during that time. Our data suggest that one particularly important type (Arena Red) was produced in Yaxuna and exported in a limited range of forms down the causeway toward sites in Quintana Roo. Although several archaeologists have argued that the causeway represents the subordination of Yaxuna by an expanding Late Classic Coba polity, our data suggest that the resulting impact on material culture may be more complex than current models imply. Ceramic economies operating in a very limited fashion within or outside of spheres of political action may have been common among the Maya, although the idea that trade follows flag certainly appears to have existed in this case.

Nichols, Deborah L.; Neff, Hector; Cowgill, George L. Cerro Portezuelo: states and hinterlands in the pre-hispanic basin of Mexico.  / Cerro Portezuelo: estados y zonas de influencia en la prehispánica Cuenca de México  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 47-71 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

George Brainerd directed excavations at Cerro Portezuelo in the mid-1950s to understand the Classic to Postclassic transition and the questions he asked are still salient. We have undertaken a reanalysis of the artifacts, survey, and excavation data from Brainerd's project to better understand the nature of relations between the Early Classic period city of Teotihuacan, its immediate hinterlands, and the change from the Teotihuacan state system to Postclassic period city-state organization. Because of Cerro Portezuelo's long occupation that began in the Late/Terminal Formative period and continued beyond the Spanish Conquest, it is a strategic site to investigate the dynamics of state formation and episodes of centralization and fragmentation over this long span. Here we review the history of research concerning Cerro Portezuelo, discuss the current research project reported in the articles that comprise this Special Section, and highlight some of the major findings.

Hicks, Frederic. The architectural features of cerro portezuelo.  / Las características arquitectónicas de Cerro Portezuelo  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 73-85 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Excavations at the site of Cerro Portezuelo, located on the lower slopes of a hill in Chimalhuacan, State of México, were begun by George Brainerd in 1954 and continued in 1955, but he died suddenly, before a projected third season could take place. With the exception of a few small structures higher on the hill, no signs of significant structures were visible on the surface. Architectural features revealed through excavation, however, included a platform with associated caches of the Middle Classic period, a platform and a burial area of the Epiclassic period, and a residential complex that appears to have spanned the Early and Late Postclassic periods. This complex included a sunken patio, a freestanding shrine, habitational rooms, and other features. Construction materials included stone, adobe brick, and tepetate.

Clayton, Sarah C. Measuring the long arm of the state: Teotihuacan's relations in the basin of Mexico.  / Midiendo el largo brazo del Estado: relaciones de Teotihuacán en la Cuenca de México  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 87-105 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

The city of Teotihuacan has long been viewed as a primate center, dominating surrounding settlements in the Basin of Mexico politically and economically, but its specific relationships with subordinate polities are not well understood. In this article I consider the diverse roles that two rural settlements played in the intraregional structure of the Teotihuacan state. Specifically, I investigate differences in architecture and ceramic assemblages at Axotlan, in the Cuauhtitlan region to the west, and Cerro Portezuelo, in the Texcoco region to the south. Results of this research demonstrate that Teotihuacan's relationships with smaller settlements in the Basin of Mexico differed considerably in intensity and changed through time. This variation reflects specific administrative and economic strategies crafted by the state as well as varying degrees of political and economic autonomy among rural settlements.

Crider, Destiny L. Shifting alliances: epiclassic and early postclassic interactions at Cerro Portezuelo.  / Alianzas cambiantes: Interacciones del periodo epiclásico y posclásico temprano en Cerro Portezuelo  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 107-130 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

This analysis takes a diachronic view of Epiclassic and Early Postclassic period production and consumption patterns of diagnostic pottery complexes at Cerro Portezuelo. Stylistic and chemical characterization studies indicate a dramatic shift in the directionality and participation in pottery complexes through time throughout the Basin of Mexico. In the Epiclassic period, Cerro Portezuelo was a participant in a southern basin cultural complex. Early Postclassic pottery at Cerro Portezuelo indicates full participation in the Mazapan/Tollan pottery complex extending from Tula, through Teotihuacan, and into the southern Texcoco region. This study expands upon a previous compositional study of Cerro Portezuelo materials that indicate that Epiclassic and Early Postclassic pottery consumption was predominantly from local sources in the southeastern basin. The current study further identifies stylistic affiliations in decorated pottery types with neighboring areas within the basin and significantly increases the sample size for Epiclassic and Early Postclassic compositional data at Cerro Portezuelo.

Cowgill, George L. Possible migrations and shifting identities in the central Mexican epiclassic.  / Posibles migraciones e identidades cambiantes en el periodo epiclásico en el centro de México  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 131-149 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

After a century or so of slow decline, major civic-ceremonial structures in the city of Teotihuacan were burned and desecrated, probably around a.d. 600/650, at least some residential structures were abandoned, and the Teotihuacan state collapsed. Few features of Teotihuacan material culture survive in the Basin of Mexico in the ensuing Epiclassic period, which lasted from approximately a.d. 600/650––800/850. Ceramic and other lines of evidence suggest a sizable in-migration of peoples from western Mexico. These newcomers may have arrived in time to add to internal stresses responsible for bringing about Teotihuacan's collapse, arrived later to take advantage of that collapse, or both. Whatever the case, interactions with Teotihuacan survivors were complex and still poorly understood. Descendants of Teotihuacanos probably soon adopted new cultural identities, making them untraceable in the archaeological record, except possibly by biological markers.

Garraty, Christopher P. Market development and pottery exchange under Aztec and Spanish rule in Cerro Portezuelo.  / Desarrollo del mercado e intercambio de cerámica bajo el dominio azteca y español en Cerro Portezuelo  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 151-176 México
Época colonial | Época prehispánica

Summary

Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) of Middle and Late Postclassic and Early Colonial period decorated and plain ware ceramic sherds from Brainerd's excavation collections at Cerro Portezuelo highlight diachronic changes in commercial pottery exchange prior to and during the Aztec empire and during the first century of Spanish colonial rule. The INAA results show that before the Aztec empire (Middle Postclassic period; a.d. 1150–1350), most pottery used at Cerro Portezuelo was made locally or imported from various sources in the southern Basin of Mexico. After the empire formed (Late Postclassic period; a.d. 1350–1521), local pottery exchange continued, but Tenochtitlan became the primary source of imported pottery in Cerro Portezuelo, despite its location within Texcoco's domain, which was likely attributable to Tenochtitlan merchants' successful exploitation of lake trafficking. After the Spanish Conquest (Early Colonial period; a.d. 1521–1625), Texcoco became the principal supplier of pottery in Cerro Portezuelo. Tenochtitlan persisted as a commercial exporter of pottery after the conquest but on a smaller scale, probably because of the degradation and infilling of the lakes, especially Lake Texcoco.

Parry, William J.; Glascock, Michael D. Obsidian blades from Cerro Portezuelo: sourcing artifacts from a long-duration site.  / Cuchillos de obsidiana de Cerro Portezuelo: artefactos fuente de un yacimiento de larga duración  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 177-184 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

This paper reports source identifications for a sample of obsidian prismatic blades from the site of Cerro Portezuelo, Mexico. Although the sample is highly biased and stratigraphically mixed, some interesting results were obtained. Compared to contemporary sites in the region, the frequency of green Pachuca obsidian was unusually low (65%), while obsidian from the distant Ucareo source was unusually abundant (14%). This pattern appears to hold for both the Classic and the Postclassic periods and differs from Classic Teotihuacan. This contrast implies that Cerro Portezuelo was not importing all of its obsidian directly from Teotihuacan during the Classic period but, rather, was obtaining some quantity of Ucareo obsidian from other sites, most likely located to the west. This trade pattern would eventually spread throughout the Basin of Mexico, after the fall of Teotihuacan, but it is foreshadowed during the Classic period at Cerro Portezuelo.

Spence, Michael W.; White, Christine D.; Longstaffe, Fred J. An archaeology of Cerro Portezuelo bioarchaeology: burial analysis and the (re)excavation of contexts from a 1950s project.  / Bioarqueología de Cerro Portezuelo: análisis de enterramientos y (re)excavación de contextos desde un proyecto de los años cincuenta  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 185-199 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Only about 19 of the 70 or so skeletons excavated at Cerro Portezuelo were brought back to UCLA, and adequate information is lacking for most of these. A detailed analysis of the excavation and curation records, as well as of the skeletons, was conducted in an attempt to identify their contexts and to evaluate their potential for contribution to our knowledge of the Cerro Portezuelo community. Although subadult dental health was good, adult levels of caries and antemortem loss were comparable to those of other Mesoamerican populations. Oxygen-isotope data suggest only limited long-distance immigration into the area. Further interpretation, however, is hampered by poor contextual data and the inability to assign most individuals to a specific period.

Teeter, Wendy Giddens. Cerro Portezuelo faunal remains and worked bone: what can be learned from early excavated collections.  / Restos faunísticos de Cerro Portezuelo y materiales óseos: qué se puede aprender de las colecciones de las primeras excavaciones  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 201-212 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Analyses of the faunal remains from Cerro Portezuelo indicate that the site's pre-Hispanic residents made use of both wild and domesticated animals commonly found near lakeshores and agricultural fields. Most of the faunal assemblage examined comes from a Postclassic period residential structure, providing information regarding the animal species utilized by the early inhabitants of the area and the types of household activities they engaged in using tools made from worked bone. Examination of the collections from another part of the site shows intriguing similarities to the animal selection practices previously identified in the Epiclassic period collections from Oztoyahualco, Teotihuacan.

Biskowski, Martin; Watson, Karen D. Changing approaches to maize preparation at Cerro Portezuelo.  / Aproximación al cambio en la preparación del maíz en Cerro Portezuelo  In  Special Section: Recent Research at Cerro Portezuelo p. 213-223 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Analyses of grinding tools at Cerro Portezuelo provide an unusual opportunity to study changing subsistence priorities. Evidence in the Teotihuacan and Mezquital Valley indicates that established patterns of dependence on maize may have been interrupted during the Epiclassic and Early Postclassic periods. Grinding tool collections in both locations contain unusually high frequencies of closed-surface grinding tools (trough metates and mortars), which are less efficient for intensive maize grinding than the open-surface tools commonly used during both the Classic and Late Postclassic periods. While analyzing the Cerro Portezuelo grinding tool collection presents many problems because of imprecise chronology, this collection also contains an unusually high frequency of closed-surface tools that can be attributed to its Epiclassic and Early Postclassic inhabitants. Thus, Cerro Portezuelo contributes to a growing picture of subsistence after the collapse of Teotihuacan in which maize was deemphasized and may have been replaced by amaranth and other foods.

Ancient Mesoamerica
Paper | Numerical version with subscription | Semestral | United Kingdom Print ISSN: 0956-5361
Online ISSN: 1469-1787
Year of creation: 1990

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Address: The Edinburgh Building; Shaftesbury Road
Cambridge CB2 8RU United Kingdom

Foro Internacional sobre metodología, teoría, análisis e interpretación de la arqueología, historia del arte y etnohistoria de Mesoamérica. La revista publica artículos principalmente interesados en la arqueología precolombina de la región mesoamericana, pero también incluye artículos de otras disciplinas incluyendo Etnohistoria, arqueología histórica y Etnoarqueología. Los temas incluyen los orígenes de la agricultura, la base económica de las ciudades-Estado e imperios, organización política a través de los períodos desde el formativo hasta el colonial temprano, el desarrollo y función de la escritura y el uso de la iconografía para reconstruir las prácticas y creencias religiosas antiguas.
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