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After Monte Albán

Transformation and Negotiation in Oaxaca, Mexico

Edited by Jeffrey P. Blomster

Publication Year: 2008

"After Monte Albán truly fills a void in current archaeological perspectives on the development of late Pre-Hispanic Oaxacan civilizations, placing them at the forefront of a new synthesis and at the same time highlighting a frontier of exciting research avenues for the future." —Marilyn Masson, University at Albany (SUNY)

After Monte Albán reveals the richness and interregional relevance of Postclassic transformations in the area now known as Oaxaca, which lies between Central Mexico and the Maya area and, as contributors to this volume demonstrate, achieved cultural centrality in pan-Mesoamerican networks. Large nucleated states throughout Oaxaca collapsed after 700 C.E., including the great Zapotec state centered in the Valley of Oaxaca, Monte Albán. Elite culture changed in fundamental ways as small city-states proliferated in Oaxaca, each with a new ruling dynasty required to devise novel strategies of legitimization. The vast majority of the population, though, sustained continuity in lifestyle, religion, and cosmology. Contributors synthesize these regional transformations and continuities in the lower Rio Verde Valley, the Valley of Oaxaca, and the Mixteca Alta. They provide data from material culture, architecture, codices, ethnohistoric documents, and ceramics, including a revised ceramic chronology from the Late Classic to the end of the Postclassic that will be crucial to future investigations. After Monte Albán establishes Postclassic Oaxaca's central place in the study of Mesoamerican antiquity.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Series: Mesoamerican Worlds Series


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pp. vii-ix

After Monte Albán: Transformation and Negotiation in Oaxaca, Mexico provides a welcome addition to the series Mesoamerican Worlds: From the Olmecs to the Danzantes. Indeed, After Monte Albán is a fresh contribution that extends some-what the boundaries implied by the series’ subtitle. The so-called Danzantes, famed carvings of human figures in an array of contorted poses, belong to the earliest era ...

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pp. xi-xvi

Upon their sixteenth-century arrival in the region now referred to as Oaxaca State, in southern Mexico, the Spanish invaders witnessed an amazing cultural florescence. Throughout Oaxaca, small city-states, or cacicazgos, each with its own sacred ruling dynasty, competed with each other. Alliances proved ephemeral, with marriages serving as a political strategy more frequently than military domination. Although ...

Part I. The Late Classic / Postclassic in Oaxaca—An Introduction

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1. Changing Cloud Formations: The Sociopolitics of Oaxaca in Late Classic / Postclassic Mesoamerica

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pp. 3-46

The origin and collapse of sociopolitical organizations remain topics of fundamental importance to anthropological archaeology. Sometime after 700 CE, both processes unfolded in various parts of modern Oaxaca State, a region in the southern highlands of Mexico (Figure 1.1) encompassing a mosaic of cultures and landscapes (Figure 1.2). One of the first states in the New World emerged after 200 BCE in ...

Part II. Chronology, Continuity, and Disjunction: Etic and Emic Perspectives

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2. Advances in Defining the Classic-Postclassic Portion of the Valley of Oaxaca Ceramic Chronology: Occurrence and Phyletic Seriation

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pp. 49-94

Few archaeologists would argue against the need for a well-defined chronology; without it, observations and inferences regarding the material record cannot be anchored in time. Yet, as Americanist archaeology broke free from an overwhelming concern with culture history in the 1960s to address what were seen as more stimulating issues, interest in chronology in Oaxaca generally lapsed. This is made ...

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3. The Postclassic Period in the Valley of Oaxaca: The Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Records

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pp. 95-118

The correlation of archaeological and ethnohistorical information should be one of the key methods in the determination of historical processes and events in the Valley of Oaxaca during the Postclassic period. The mere existence of alphabetical and pictorial historical documentation in a region that has received extensive archaeological investigations over the last half a century creates possibilities that ...

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4. Heirlooms and Ruins: High Culture, Mesoamerican Civilization, and the Postclassic Oaxacan Tradition

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pp. 119-168

On March 31, 2000, the name of Oaxacanist John Pohl was projected onto thou-sands of movie screens across the United States: he was listed as visual consultant in the credits to DreamWorks’ animated The Road to El Dorado. This film chronicled the adventures of Miguel and Tulio, two European castaways who stumble across the fabled Amerindian City of Gold. Although the story was set in the sixteenth ...

Part III. Continuity and Abandonment of Houses in the Valley of Oaxaca: Lambityeco and Macuilx

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5. The Classic to Postclassic at Lambityeco

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pp. 171-192

Archaeologists specialize in the study of culture change (Plog 1974). Traditional archaeological approaches to the study of culture change involve the use of strati-graphic test pit excavations, block excavations, and surface or settlement pattern surveys. Long continuous archaeological sequences are broken up into discrete blocks of time or phases on the basis of observed changes in artifact types found ...

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6. Ethnohistory, Oral History, and Archaeology at Macuilxóchitl: Perspectives on the Postclassic Period (800–1521 CE) in the Valley of Oaxaca

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pp. 193-215

The nature of community organization in the Valley of Oaxaca following the decline of Monte Albán at the end of the Classic period (800 CE) remains obscure, if not invisible, due to longstanding difficulties with the Early Postclassic (800–1200 CE) portion of the regional ceramic chronology (see Chapter 2). A case in point is the issue of how and precisely when the competitive, territorially compact kingdoms or ...

Part IV. Changing Power Relations and Interaction in the Lower R

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7. Domination, Negotiation, and Collapse: A History of Centralized Authority on the Oaxaca Coast before the Late Postclassic

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pp. 219-254

The nature of sociopolitical change during the Classic to Postclassic transition in Mesoamerica has been a source of great research interest and debate. Throughout most of Mesoamerica this period, lasting from about 600 to 1000 CE, was characterized by the fragmentation or collapse of the complex polities that dominated the Classic period (250–800 CE) political landscape. Archaeological, iconographic, ...

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8. Interregional Networks of the Oaxacan Early Postclassic: Connecting the Coast and the Highlands

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p. 255

Rulers of successful highland Mesoamerican cities, such as Teotihuacan and Monte Alb

Part V. Sacred History and Legitimization in the Mixteca Alta

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9. Legitimization, Negotiation, and Appropriation in Postclassic Oaxaca: Mixtec Stone Codices

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pp. 295-330

Postclassic politics of the Mixteca Alta epitomize the sociopolitical transformations that characterize Oaxaca and other parts of Mesoamerica after the decline of large Late Classic states. Although it is ill-advised to associate a specific ethnic group with a geographic area, especially during the Late Classic through Postclassic periods (see Chapter 1), here I focus on Mixtec city-states, or cacicazgos, in the Valley ...

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10. Tree Birth, the Solar Oracle, and Achiutla: Mixtec Sacred History and the Classic to Postclassic Transition

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pp. 331-364

The culture of the Mixtec people of Oaxaca, Mexico, during and after the transition between Classic and Postclassic periods in Mesoamerican history has engendered significant interest among archaeologists working in southern Mexico (see Spores 2001 for discussion). This work has been greatly aided by the complementary research of their allies in the ethnohistoric and epigraphic fields ( Jansen 1982, 1996, ...

Part VI. New Research Frontiers in Oaxaca and Eastern Guerrero

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11. Classic and Postclassic Archaeological Features of the Mixteca- Tlapaneca-Nahua Region of Guerrero: Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me the Classic Period Was Over?

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pp. 367-392

This chapter focuses on archaeological data from eastern Guerrero, an area along the western border of Oaxaca in the so-called La Monta

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12. Classic to Postclassic in Four Oaxaca Regions: The Mazateca, the Chinantla, the Mixe Region, and the Southern Isthmus

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pp. 393-426

In the early sixteenth century, at the time of the Spanish Conquest, an estimated 1.5 to 3 million people representing at least sixteen distinct ethnic and linguistic groups lived in what is now the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico (see Figure 1.2). Tracing the culture history of these groups has been a challenge to archaeologists. In theory, all sixteen groups and perhaps others, such as the now extinct Papabuco, are ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 427-428


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pp. 429-438

E-ISBN-13: 9780870819407
E-ISBN-10: 0870819402
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870818967
Print-ISBN-10: 0870818961

Page Count: 456
Illustrations: 19 b/w photos, 83 line drawings, 11 maps, 16 tbls
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Mesoamerican Worlds Series
Series Editor Byline: Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University, and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, El Colegio Nacional, Mexico, Series General Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 475581882
MUSE Marc Record: Download for After Monte Albán

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indians of Mexico -- Mexico -- Oaxaca Valley -- Antiquities.
  • Indians of Mexico -- Mexico -- Oaxaca Valley -- Historiography.
  • Ethnohistory -- Mexico -- Oaxaca Valley.
  • Monte Albán Site (Mexico).
  • Oaxaca Valley (Mexico) -- Antiquities.
  • Ethnoarchaeology -- Mexico -- Oaxaca Valley.
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