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Review Anales de Literatura Hispanoamericana

Ancient Mesoamerica

Review Anuario Brasileño de Estudios Hispánicos

Year: 2014 vol. 25 n. 2

Wendt, Carl J.; Bernard, Henri Noel; Delsescaux, Jeffery. A Middle Formative Artifact Excavated at Arroyo Pesquero, Veracruz. p. 309-316 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

During a recent underwater archaeological survey of the Arroyo Pesquero, members of the Proyecto Arqueológico Arroyo Pesquero discovered an extraordinary and unusual archaeological specimen made of mottled brown and white jadeite. This artifact, most likely dating to the Middle Formative period (900–400 b.c.), is significant for two reasons. Firstly, because this object is the first find discovered at the site during a systematic archaeological investigation and thus has archaeological provenience and, secondly, because of the iconographic elements it possesses and its one-of-a-kind form. This article begins with a short background on the Arroyo Pesquero site, including its discovery, history of looting, and archaeological investigations. We then briefly describe the present investigation and the discovery of the artifact itself. This is followed by a description of the artifact—its form, iconography, and its possible functions. We conclude with some comments on the specimen within the framework of Middle Formative Olmec iconography.

Sharpe, Ashley E. A Reexamination of the Birds in the Central Mexican Codices. p. 317-336 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Eduard Seler's 1909 analysis of the various birds and their associated symbolism in the Mexican codices is one of the most thorough undertakings of its kind; however, although numerous revelations have been made in the realm of codex research over the past century, no comprehensive attempt has been undergone to revise Seler's initial identifications. The present study reviews the major bird species from Seler's original essay. Seven codices from the Borgia and Aztec Groups are assessed, so as to compare species traits and symbolic representations between both regions. The study incorporates recent research on the central Mexican codices, symbolism, myths, and ethnohistoric accounts, in addition to discoveries made over the last century in the fields of ornithology and zooarchaeology, in order to revise the identifications made in Seler's original work and to create a more comprehensive review of the roles each of these birds played in ancient Mexican mythology.

Ebert, Claire E.; Prufer, Keith M.; Macri, Martha J.; Winterhalder, Bruce; Kennett, Douglas J. Terminal Long Count Dates and the Disintegration of Classic Period Maya Polities. p. 337-356 Centroamérica
México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Analyses of terminal long count dates from stone monuments in the Maya lowlands have played a central role in characterizing the rise and “collapse” of polities during the Late and Terminal Classic periods (a.d. 730–910). Previous studies propose a directional abandonment of large political centers from west-to-east. We retest the west-to-east hypothesis, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial statistics to analyze an updated dataset of 89 terminal dates from the Maya Hieroglyphic Database (MHD). Our results do not support a directional collapse, but instead suggest a contraction of Terminal Classic polities around seven core areas in the Maya lowlands. Three regions demonstrate distinct subregional abandonments of monument carving over a period of 24 to 127 years, consistent with independent archaeological data for each region. Advances in GIS, spatial statistics, and related methods applied to an increasingly detailed and comprehensive epigraphic and archaeological database provide a foundation for examining long-term sociopolitical dynamics in the Maya lowlands.

Law, Danny; Robertson, John; Houston, Stephen; Zender, Marc; Stuart, David. Areal Shifts in Classic Mayan Phonology. p. 357-366 Centroamérica
México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Advances in hieroglyphic decipherment and in language contact typology provide new data and theories with which to investigate and reassess prior interpretations of Mayan linguistic history. The present study considers the shift from proto-Mayan *k and *k' to /ch/ and /ch'/, a sound change that affected several Mayan languages in different phonological contexts. This sound change, with a very particular set of conditions, has been highlighted as a defining feature of the Cholan-Tseltalan branch of the Mayan language family. New evidence suggests that this sound change was shared as a result of contact around the time of the Classic period, rather than reflecting an inherited sound change that would have taken place at a much earlier stage of the language family. Hieroglyphic data provide further evidence that this sound change was adopted in the hieroglyphic language in a word-by-word fashion, rather than applying to all similar phonological contexts at the same time.

Robin, Cynthia; Kosakowsky, Laura; Keller, Angela; Meierhoff, James. Leaders, Farmers, and Crafters: The Relationship between Leading Households and Households across the Chan CommunityIn  Households Make History in Ancient Mesoamerica p. 371-387 Centroamérica
Belice
Época prehispánica

Summary

Households, communities, and society exist in a mutually constituting relationship, shaping and being shaped by one another. Daily life within households can have political dimensions and affect societal organization. Research at the Maya farming community of Chan in Belize demonstrates how households shaped their lives, history, and politics for 2,000 years (800 b.c.–a.d. 1200). We examine the households of Chan's leaders and the social, economic, political, and religious relationships between leading households and other households across the community to show how novel forms of political practice arose through household interaction. Community leaders and households across the community developed community-focused ritual practices and group-oriented social, economic, ideological, and political strategies that were critical in the development of their community, were distinctive from normative individual-focused political practices of the Classic Maya kings, and may have influenced the later development of more diverse political strategies in the Maya area in the Postclassic period.

Joyce, Arthur A.; Levine, Marc N.; King, Stacie M.; Balkin, Jessica Hedgepeth; Barber, Sarah B. Political Transformations and the Everyday in Postclassic OaxacaIn  Households Make History in Ancient Mesoamerica p. 389-410 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

We use excavations of low-status houses to explore Postclassic political and economic transformations in the lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca. Following the collapse of Classic period political institutions, commoners experienced greater economic and political autonomy. Residential excavations at Río Viejo indicate that commoners took advantage of the absence of regional authority to gain greater control over surplus craft products, especially cotton thread, as well as access to social valuables and long distance trade. By the Late Postclassic period, the region was once again dominated by powerful rulers. Yet household excavations at Tututepec show that Late Postclassic commoners continued to control some surplus craft production and had access to social valuables like copper and polychrome pottery via market exchange. We argue that Late Postclassic political relations were a product of negotiations among elites and commoners that in part reflect the greater economic autonomy and political power that Early Postclassic people had acquired.

Joyce, Rosemary A.; Hendon, Julia A.; Lopiparo, Jeanne. Working with ClayIn  Households Make History in Ancient Mesoamerica p. 411-420 Centroamérica
Honduras
Época prehispánica

Summary

Evidence from sites in the lower Ulua valley of north-central Honduras, occupied between a.d. 500 and 1000, provides new insight into the connections between households, craft production, and the role of objects in maintaining social relations within and across households. Production of pottery vessels, figurines, and other items in a household context has been documented at several sites in the valley, including Cerro Palenque, Travesía, Campo Dos, and Campo Pineda. Differences in raw materials, in what was made, and in the size and design of firing facilities allow us to explore how crafting with clay created communities of practice made up of people with varying levels of knowledge, experience, and skill. We argue that focusing on the specific features of a particular craft and the crafter's perspective gives us insight into the ways that crafting contributed to the reproduction of social identities, local histories, and connections among members of communities of practice who comprised multicrafting households.

Hutson, Scott R.; Welch, Jacob A. Sacred Landscapes and Building Practices at Uci, Kancab, and Ucanha, Yucatan, MexicoIn  Households Make History in Ancient Mesoamerica p. 421-439 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

During the emergence of regional hierarchy around the site of Uci in northwest Yucatan, Mexico, ordinary people affected power relations in at least two ways. First, in the Late Preclassic and Early Classic periods, Uci had the largest ceremonial center and the largest population within a 20 km radius. Uci also physically linked itself to smaller settlements, such as Kancab and Ucanha, by means of a broad stone causeway. Yet Kancab and Ucanha's quadripartite placement of causeways and central plaza suggests that its households created a sacred landscape that gave them a degree of ritual autonomy. Ordinary people impacted power relations a second way by participating in the development of the megalithic architectural style, which was used in the region's most authoritative buildings. The use of this style in domestic platforms illustrates the ability of modest households to make their own decisions and to act in ways that constituted society at large.

De Lucia, Kristin; Overholtzer, Lisa. Everyday Action and the Rise and Decline of Ancient Polities: Household Strategy and Political Change in Postclassic Xaltocan, MexicoIn  Households Make History in Ancient Mesoamerica p. 441-458 México
Época prehispánica

Summary

Household archaeology conducted at the site of Xaltocan, an important regional center in the northern Basin of Mexico, illustrates how the everyday actions of ordinary people contribute to the rise and decline of ancient polities. Through a study of long-term change and variation from multiple household contexts, this article reconstructs how the economic and political activities of ordinary households were central to the construction and reproduction of political institutions, social structures, and regional systems of exchange from the period of Xaltocan's founding around a.d. 900 through its conquest in a.d. 1395. Along with the other contributors to this volume we emphasize that households are not simply influenced by broader processes of change and development in a trickle-down fashion, but rather that micro- and macro-structures are mutually constituted, with household decisions and actions having both intended and unintended consequences at the macroscale.

Carballo, David M.; Carballo, Jennifer; Lesure, Richard G. Houses of Style: Consumption, Adornment, and Identity in Formative Tlaxcalan HouseholdsIn  Households Make History in Ancient Mesoamerica p. 459-476 México

Summary

The households of Formative period central Mexico represent critical loci for understanding major social transformations during a millennium (900 b.c.– a.d. 100) that witnessed the expansion and contraction of several macro-regional stylistic and economic networks, formalization of enduring political and religious institutions, and initial urbanization and state formation. Households and their constituent members used style to articulate important elements of their identity through practices of group consumption and personal adornment. In this study we consider style within the context of ceramic serving vessels and portable adornments primarily from sites in the state of Tlaxcala. We evaluate the manner in which dimensions of stylistic expression in these material goods contributed to shifting conceptualizations of household and individual identity and their articulation with community and supra-community social networks, noting the generally collective or affinitive manipulation of styles with means of socially differentiating age, status, and other dimensions of identity.

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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