Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2002:
Paula Turkon

Macrobotanical Study: Zacatecas, México
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Research Year:  1999
Culture:  Northwest México
Chronology:  Late Classic
Location:  Zacatecas, México
Site:  Malpaso Valley

Table of Contents

Project Summary
Sources Cited

Project Summary

Although the Malpaso Valley, Zacatecas, México was part of the Mesoamerican cultural tradition, it is unique in its removed geographical location, environmental marginality, and social organization. Monumental architecture and a settlement hierarchy suggest a complex social system, but other indicators of social complexity, such as elaborate burials and prestige items are absent. Consequently, I suggest that differential involvement in domestic activities is an alternative way to examine variation in social status. As remains of diet, fuel use, building materials, medicines, and specialized craft production, macrobotanical remains from household contexts of sites representing the three settlement tiers in the Malpaso Valley provide one of the most important data classes to address variation in domestic activities.

A Contingency Grant from FAMSI allowed me to take advantage of an opportunity to add a macrobotanical component to a third tier site excavation conducted by Dr. Charles Trombold of Washington University, in conjunction with the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas. This support complements my research objectives by expanding the botanical sample from third-tier sites, and also provides a rare case for Mesoamerican archaeology in which contexts representing a broad spectrum of social status are sampled. Funds were used to implement a sampling strategy, to conduct flotation of soil samples for macrobotanical remains, and to analyze samples. Funds were also used to visit the Ethnobotanical Laboratory at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in México City to verify seed identifications.

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Submitted 08/27/2000 by:

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