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Polity and Ecology in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca

Edited by Arthur Joyce

Publication Year: 2013

Encapsulating two decades of research, Polity and Ecology in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca is the first major treatment of the lower Río Verde region of Oaxaca, investigating its social, political, and ecological history. Tracing Formative period developments from the earliest known evidence of human presence to the collapse of lower Río Viejo (the region’s first centralized polity), the volume synthesizes the archaeological and paleoecological evidence from the valley.

This period saw the earliest agricultural settlements in the region as well as the origins of sedentism and early village life, witnessed major changes in the lower Río Verde’s floodplain and in environments along the coast that expanded the productivity of subsistence resources, and experience the emergence of social complexity. The book addresses theoretically significant questions of broad relevance such as the origins and spread of agriculture, the social negotiation of complex political formations, the effects of long-distance trade and interaction, the macroregional effects of landscape change, and prehispanic ideology and political power.

Focusing on questions of interregional interaction, environmental change, and political centralization, Polity and Ecology in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca provides a comprehensive understanding of the Formative period archaeology of this important and long neglected region of Oaxaca.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

In the early 1960s Richard MacNeish designed a groundbreaking regional archaeological study focused on Mexico’s Tehuacán Valley. Enlisting the collaboration of specialists in paleobotany, zoology, geology, geography, hydrology, lithic technology, ethnography, and ethnohistory, MacNeish and his...

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1. Polity and Ecology in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca: An Introduction

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pp. 1-41

The archaeology of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca (Figure 1.1) is best known for research on the prehispanic culture of the Valley of Oaxaca, especially the ancient city of Monte Albán (Blanton 1978; Caso et al. 1967; Joyce 2010; Joyce and Winter 1996; Kowalewski et al. 1989; Marcus and Flannery...

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2. Paleoecological Evidence for Early Agriculture and Forest Clearance in Coastal Oaxaca

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pp. 43-64

The intensive paleoecological analysis of lake and wetland sediments in Mesoamerica has provided important evidence of the origins and development of agriculture and the manipulation of the landscape by prehistoric groups (e.g., Deevey 1978; Jones and Voorhies 2004). This evidence not...

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3. Anthropogenic Landscape Change and the Human Ecology of the Lower Río Verde Valley

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pp. 65-96

Environmental degradation caused by human land use is often viewed as a problem of the modern industrial age. Recent research in Europe, the Near East, and Mesoamerica, however, has yielded evidence for anthropogenic landscape change dating back thousands of years (Redman 1999). In Mesoamerica...

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4. Formative Period Burial Practices and Cemeteries

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pp. 97-133

The lower Verde has an extensive, well-studied sample of human remains that spans the Late to Terminal Formative periods (400 BC–AD 250). The 156 individuals securely dated to the Late/Terminal Formative periods have been excavated or identified at six sites (Figure 4.1; see Barber 2005, 2009...

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5. Place-Making and Power in the Terminal Formative: Excavations on Río Viejo’s Acropolis

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pp. 135-163

Archaeological research in the lower Río Verde Valley shows that a centralized polity first developed in the region during the Terminal Formative period (150 BC–AD 250). The region experienced significant population growth at this time with the area occupied in the regional survey zone increasing from...

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6. Defining Community and Status at Outlying Sites during the Terminal Formative Period

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pp. 165-192

The development of a regional polity in the Terminal Formative period (150 BC–AD 250) was inevitably a process that involved people throughout the lower Río Verde Valley (Figure 1.2). For those living in the many midsize and small sites that dotted the valley, the development and maintenance...

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7. Coastal/Highland Interaction in Oaxaca, Mexico: The Perspective from San Francisco de Arriba

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pp. 193-226

At first glance, interaction between ancient polities of unequal sociopolitical complexities suggests a situation of dominance. Yet, as archaeologists continue to broaden their focus from major centers to peripheral regions, such an assumption becomes less tenable (Stein 1999). It is increasingly apparent...

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8. Examining Ceramic Evidence for the Zapotec Imperialism Hypothesis in the Lower Río Verde Region of Oaxaca, Mexico

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pp. 227-263

Monte Albán emerged as one of Mesoamerica’s first urban societies and a regional center in Oaxaca during the Late/Terminal Formative periods (Blanton 1978; Blanton et al. 1999; Flannery and Marcus 1983; Joyce 2000; Joyce and Winter 1996; Marcus and Flannery 1996; Winter 1989). Scholars have proposed...

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9. From Flesh to Clay: Formative Period Iconography from Oaxaca’s Lower Río Verde Valley

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pp. 265-299

This chapter presents our analysis of 256 Formative period (1600 BC–AD 250) ceramic figurines, musical instruments, and iconographic vessel appliqués from the lower Río Verde Valley of coastal Oaxaca, Mexico (Barber 2005; Barber and Hepp 2012; Fernández Pardo 1993; Hepp 2007, 2009; Hepp and Hepp...

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10. Coastal Oaxaca and Formative Developments in Mesoamerica

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pp. 301-339

Over the past two decades, archaeologists have focused increasingly on how individuals and groups use material, social, and ideological resources to acquire and maintain power (e.g., Baines and Yoffee 1998; Blanton et al. 1996; Clark and Blake 1994; Demarest and Conrad 1992; Demarrais et al. 1996; Earle...


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pp. 341-363


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pp. 343-350

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322122
E-ISBN-10: 1607322129
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607322023
Print-ISBN-10: 1607322021

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 22 B&W photos, 51 line illustrations, 11 maps, 28 tables
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 827944924
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Polity and Ecology in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca

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Subject Headings

  • Indians of Mexico -- Mexico -- Oaxaca (State) -- Antiquities.
  • Indians of Mexico -- Mexico -- Verde River Valley (San Luis Potosí) -- Antiquities.
  • Indians of Mexico -- Mexico -- Oaxaca (State) -- Politics and government.
  • Indians of Mexico -- Mexico -- Verde River Valley (San Luis Potosí) -- Politics and government.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Ecology -- Mexico -- Oaxaca (State).
  • Indigenous peoples -- Ecology -- Mexico -- Verde River Valley (San Luis Potosí).
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Mexico -- Oaxaca (State).
  • Excavations (Archaoelogy) -- Mexico -- Verde River Valley (San Luis Potosí).
  • Oaxaca (Mexico : State) -- Antiquities.
  • Verde River Valley (San Luis Potosí, Mexico) -- Antiquities.
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