A FAMSI-SPONSORED CONFERENCE REPORT
West México and the Mesoamerican World: New Data and Future Directions
(El Occidente de México y el Mundo Mesoamericano: Nuevos Datos y Futuras Direcciones)
Guadalajara, Jalisco México, October 23-25, 2002
Vea este informe en Español.
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Research Year: 2002
Culture: West México
Chronology: Pre-Classic to Post Classic
Location: Conference in Guadalajara, México
For decades, most Mesoamerican scholars have considered West México to be a peripheral region of Mesoamerica. In general, that vast region has been thought of only in terms of its unique shaft tomb burial chambers and associated ceramic tomb offerings (uncovered by looters, not archaeologists). Because its archaeological remains did not closely replicate those of Central México or the Maya region, the attention of Mesoamerican researchers and research funding was directed to those latter areas, and West Méxicos prehistory was generally ignored. However, when what is known about West Mexican prehistory is carefully reanalyzed and evaluated on its own terms, that diverse region is seen to have had early precocious cultural developments rivaling those elsewhere in Mesoamerica, to have produced its own forms of socio-political complexity, and to have participated in significant interactions with Central México, the Southwestern U.S., and the Pacific coasts of Central America and South America. Today, as West Méxicos importance in Mesoamerica is becoming more widely recognized, the pace of archaeological research there is increasing, and exciting new data are emerging.
This conference, West México and the Mesoamerican World: New Data and Future Directions, was created for the purpose of presenting the newest archaeological data from West México, and then re-examining the prehistory of West México with "fresh eyes" in terms of the regions cultural developments and its interactions with other areas of Mesoamerica. The conference explored three major questions: What is being learned from the new research? What should the future directions of West Mexican archaeology be? And importantly, how does West México fit within the Mesoamerican world?
The conference was co-organized by Dr. David Grove (Univ. of Florida), Dr. Phil Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán), and Dr. Eduardo Williams (Colegio de Michoacán), and funded by a grant from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI). Logistical assistance for the conference was provided by INAH-Jalisco, the Museo Regional de Guadalajara, the Secretaría de Cultura del Estado de Jalisco, and the Colegio de Michoacán.
Over forty archaeologists from México and the U.S. participated actively in the conference, and twenty-two invited papers dealing with new research were presented. Institutions represented by the participating scholars included (in alphabetical order): Arizona State Univ., Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, Colegio de Michoacán, Denver Museum of Natural History, INAH-Colima, INAH-Jalisco, INAH-Michoacán, INAH-Querétaro, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán, Texas Wesleyan University, Tulane University, University of Colorado, University of Florida, University of Guadalajara, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and University of Paris.
The conference took place over a period of three days, each with two 4-hour sessions. The session topics were: (1) Cultural Processes in Ancient West México; (2) Analysis of Funerary Contexts; (3) Strategic resources and subsistence patterns; (4) no formal papers (conferees field trip to Teuchitlán site); (5) Architecture and settlement patterns; (6) Round Table discussion, and open general discussion of the major points of the conference. Sessions and papers were in Spanish. A summary of the sessions, and abstracts of the presentations are given below.
The conference sessions were open to all persons interested in West Mexican prehistory, and the conference was well publicized at universities in West México and in newspapers in Guadalajara. Daily attendance ranged from 70-100, and included many local university students.
The final session began with comments and a round table discussion by Dr. David C. Grove (Univ. de Florida), Dr. Dan Healan (Tulane Univ.), Dr. Arturo Oliveros (INAH-Michoacán), Prof. Otto Schondube (INAH), Dr. Phil C. Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán), and Dr. Eduardo Williams (Colegio de Michoacán). Commentaries primarily discussed the new research that was presented, and also West México as a part of Mesoamerica and its active participation in the Mesoamerican world system. The session then turned to open discussions and comments by professionals and students in the audience. Those primarily dealt with (1) the need for more basic archaeological research in West México; (2) the destruction of sites by looting, and possible solutions, including perhaps through educational programs at the village level; (3) an annoyance at the apparent marginalization of West Mexican prehistory by other Mesoamerican scholars, and thus a desire for greater recognition and respect of West Mexican archaeology by scholars and by the Mesoamerica curricula of local, national (Mexican), and international (U.S., and European) programs of higher education; and (4) along with that recognition, the need for a corresponding increase in the funding of archaeological research in West México. The overall discussion provided a lively and fruitful end to the conference.
It is planned that the conference presentations will be published in the near future as a book.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Conference Inauguration: Opening greetings and comments by L. Alberto López Wario of INAHs Coordinación Nacional de Arqueología, Lic. Salvador de Alva of the Secretaría de Cultura del Estado de Jalisco, and conference co-organizers Dr. David Grove (Univ. of Florida), Dr. Eduardo Williams (Colegio de Michoacán), and Dr. Phil C. Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán and Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán)
SESSION 1: Procesos culturales en el antiguo Occidente de México / Cultural Processes in ancient West México.
Session Moderator: Dr. Phil C. Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán)
- Chris Beekman (Univ. of Colorado - Denver)
Nuevos enfoques sobre la tradición Teuchitlán: Investigaciones actuales en Llano Grande y Navajas, Jalisco (New approaches of understanding Teuchitlans Tradition: Present research at Llano Grande and Navajas, Jalisco).
- Bruce Benz (Texas Wesleyan Univ.), Marcus Winter (INAH-Oaxaca), Susana Ramírez de Swartz (Univ. de Guadalajara) and Catherine Liot (Univ. de Guadalajara):
El Protoneolítico del Occidente de México (West Mexicos Protoneolithic).
- Véronique Darras (Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos) and Brigitte Faugere (Univ. of Paris):
Cronología de la cultura Chupícuaro: Estudios estratigráficos y fechamientos de radiocarbono (Chronology of the Chupícuaro culture: Stratigraphic studies and radiocarbon dating).
- Ana Ma. Jarquín (INAH-Colima):
La Campana, Colima: Recientes excavaciones y propuestas de relaciones con el centro de México (La Campana, Colima: Recent excavations and proposed relation with Central Mexico).
- Catherine Liot, Javier Reveles, Susana Ramírez de Swartz, Cinthya Cárdenas, Franca Mata R. Carmen Melgarejo, Leonardo Santoyo and Victoria Bojorquez:
La Peña, Cuenca de Sayula, Jalisco: un sitio de la transición entre el Epiclásico y Postclásico temprano. Temporadas 2000 y 2002 (La Peña, Sayula Basin, Jalisco: A transition site between the Epiclassic and Early Postclassic. Field seasons 2000 and 2002).
- Helen Pollard (Michigan State Univ.):
Erongarícuaro, Michoacán, y los estados Teotihuacano y Tarasco (Erongarícuaro, Michoacán and the Teotihuacán and Tarascan States).
SESSION 2: Análisis de contextos funerarios / Analysis of Funerary Contexts.
Session Moderator: Susana Ramírez de Swartz, Univ. de Guadalajara.
- Eric Cach (Colegio de Michoacán) and Sara Fernández (INAH):
Ceremonialismo funerario del Formativo Tardío en los Guachimontones de Teuchitlán (Late Formative Funerary Ceremonialism in the Guachimontones of Teuchitlán).
- Joseph Mountjoy (Univ. of North Carolina-Greensboro):
Hallazgos arqueológicos de la temporada 2002 en el panteón Formativo Medio de El Pantano, Jalisco (Archaeological findings from the 2002 field season in the Middle Formative cemetery of El Pantano, Jalisco).
- Grégory Pereira (Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos):
La Loma de Guadalupe: Costumbres funerarias del Clásico en la Cuenca de Zacapu, Michoacán (The Guadalupe Hill: Funerary customs of the Classic period in the Zacapu Basin, Michoacán).
- Robert B. Pickering (Denver Museum of Natural Science) and Ephraim Cuevas (Denver Museum of Natural Science):
Caracterización de manchas de manganeso en artefactos del Occidente (Characterization of manganese flecks in western artifacts).
Thursday, October 24, 2002
SESSION 3: Recursos estratégicos y patrones de subsistencia / Strategic resources and subsistence patterns.
Session Moderator: Ángeles Olay (INAH-Colima)
- Rodrigo Esparza López (Colegio de Michoacán) and Carla Ponce Ordaz (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán):
La obsidiana en el contexto arqueológico de los Guachimontones, Jalisco (The archaeological context of Guachimontones obsidian in Jalisco).
- Dorothy Hosler (Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
Producción de cobre en la tierra caliente y en la Sierra Madre del Sur, Guerrero (Copper production in the hot land and the southern Sierra Madre, Guerrero).
- Lorenza López Mestas (INAH-Jalisco):
Especialización artesanal y representación ideológica en los albores de la tradición Teuchitlán (Specialization in Craft production and ideological representation in the beginnings of the Teuchitlán tradition).
- Glenn Stuart (Arizona State Univ.):
Agricultura de las tierras húmedas en el núcleo de la tradición Teuchitlán (Wetlands agriculture at the heart of the Teuchitlán tradition).
- Eduardo Williams (Colegio de Michoacán):
Indicadores arqueológicos de actividades de producción salinera en Michoacán (Archaeological markers of salt mine production activities in Michoacán).
- Ricardo Leonel Cruz Jiménez (Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos):
Investigaciones recientes sobre la explotación de obsidiana en la Sierra de los Agustinos, Guanajuato (Recent research on the exploitation of obsidian at Sierra de los Agustinos, Guanajuato).
SESSION 4: Field trip for conferees to visit the excavations of the Guachimontones precinct, at the site of Teuchitlán.
Friday, October 25, 2002
SESSION 5: Arquitectura y patrones de asentamiento / Architecture and settlement patterns.
Session Moderator: Lorenza López Mestas (INAH-Jalisco):
- Sara Fernández Mendiola (INAH):
Restauración y análisis de los elementos constructivos de los Guachimontones, Jalisco (Restoration and analysis of building elements from Guachimontones, Jalisco).
- Ángeles Olay (INAH-Colima):
Las unidades habitacionales de el Chanal, Colima (Households at El Chanal, Colima).
- Sean M. Smith (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán) and Jorge Herrejón (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán):
Las unidades habitacionales del Epiclásico en el sitio arqueológico los Guachimontones (Epiclassic households at the Guachimontones archaeological site).
- Phil Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán) and Acelia García de Weigand (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán):
El juego de pelota monumental de los Guachimontones de Teuchitlán (The monumental ballcourt of the Guachimontones of Teuchitlán).
- Ana Ma. Crespo (INAH-Queretaro) and Jorge Ramos de la Vega (INAH-Queretaro):
Patrones Arquitectónicos: Diseño y Cambios en los Asentamientos del Centro-Norte y Occidente de Mesoamérica (Architectonic patterns: Changes and designs of Mesoamericas north-central and western settlements).
- Eugenia Fernández Villanueva (Colegio de Michoacán):
El proyecto arqueológico de la Mesa Acuitzio (Cerro de los Chichimecas), Michoacán (The Archaeological Project of the Acuitzio plateau, [Chichimecas Hill], Michoacán).
SESSION 6: Round Table discussion among all attending.
Commentators: Dr. David C. Grove (Univ. of Florida), Dr. Dan Healan (Tulane Univ.), Dr. Arturo Oliveros (INAH-Michoacán), Prof. Otto Schondube (INAH), Dr. Phil C. Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán), Dr. Eduardo Williams (Colegio de Michoacán).
ABSTRACTS OF PRESENTATIONS (Originally in Spanish, translation by Silvia Sullivan)
Chris Beekman (Univ. of Colorado - Denver)
New approaches of understanding Teuchitláns Tradition: Present research at Llano Grande and Navajas, Jalisco.
The investigations carried out in recent years by the Proyecto Arqueológico Regional del Valle de Tequila (Tequila Valley Regional Archaeological Project) have been focused on the activities of the elite during the early and late periods of Teuchitlans traditional cultural sequence. The project was originally guided by competitive models of agency and factionalism, supported by excavations at Llano Grande. Based on these excavations, it was proposed that descendent independent corporate units were associated with each of the surrounding structures at Guachimontones. But, the work done at Llano Grande has also contributed to a better understanding of the ritual we believe took place in these circles and this line of inquiry has led to more social roles attributed to the elites. We have also changed our theoretical interest towards architecture, and now we see it as an attempt to reconcile social divisions in the construction of a more extensive political system. This could have been the way to construct the segmentary State that has been proposed as a basic model for the Teuchitlán tradition.
Bruce Benz (Texas Wesleyan Univ.), Marcus Winter (INAH-Oaxaca), Susana Ramírez Urrea (Univ. de Guadalajara) and Catherine Liot (Univ. de Guadalajara)
West Mexicos Protoneolithic.
The Cultural period before the Formative period in Mesoamerica is named in different ways: Archaic (Flannery, McNeish, Mountjoy, Voorhies) and Protoneolithic (Mirambell, Lorenzo), among others. In general, this period is chronologically situated before 2500 B.C. Our knowledge about this phase of cultural development in Mesoamerica comes from archaeological surveys from the center of Oaxaca, Puebla and the Maya zone. Within the center of Mexico, the phases were named: El Riego, Coxcatlán and Abejas in the south of Puebla and Oaxaca and Chantuto B in the Pacific Coast of Chiapas. Outside the Mesoamerican area, what we know of this cultural development we have learned through excavations in Nayarit, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. In these areas the stages were called: Matanchen, Flacco and La Perra Zona D and B respectively. In all these cases, the subsistence pattern is characterized by the collection of local vegetables, the hunting of wild animals and the beginning of growing species that later became basic crops. The inhabitants made good use of local as well as non local resources for the exploitation of materials used for technological purposes including the polishing and flaking of stones. Our survey investigation at Sayula zone in Jalisco provides evidence that belongs to this period of time. Even though there is not much evidence, the work realized to date suggests that more evidence will be found to affirm our hypothesis that the Protoneolithic was well developed in West Mexico.
Eric Cach (Colegio de Michoacán) and Sara Fernández (INAH)
Late Formative Funerary Ceremonialism in the Guachimontones of Teuchitlán.
Even though human burials are not common in the period of El Arenal (Late Formative) and Ahualulco (Early Classic) in the Guachimontones precinct, rituals involved with human remains is very well presented. This is especially certain for Circle V, a small structure situated near Ballcourt 2 at the precincts west end. The excavations in this area revealed a structure which is considerably different from the main altar and pyramids of other parts of the precinct or of the general area.
These excavations revealed six mortuary offerings, four of them in the shape of a cross and two in the altars geometric center, one on top of the other. Only one skeleton is complete enough to be defined as primary burial; all the others are partial or secondary burials. Skulls were used as offerings, together with figurines, bowls, pots, shell bracelets, mano and grinding stones, ocher or cinnabar, burned maize and other objects. This altar shows the existence of mortuary ceremonies on a scale never before seen for the early cultural stages in this part of the West.
Ana Ma. Crespo (INAH-Queretaro) and Jorge Ramos de la Vega (INAH-Queretaro)
Architectonic patterns: Changes and Designs of Mesoamericas North-central and Western Settlements.
It is known that architecture is one of the most important material expressions for the study of early societies. Until now a series of surveys carried out in the north-central and western regions of Mesoamerica intended to record and classify the various architectural units that exists in the archaeological settlements. Based on this information, the present presentation intends to explain some aspects of the conception of these units, supported by the differentiation of use and function of some of them throughout time.
Ricardo Leonel Cruz Jiménez (Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos)
Recent research on the exploitation of obsidian at Sierra de los Agustinos, Guanajuato.
As part of the project "Dinámicas culturales en El Bajío, Guanajuato" (Cultural Dynamics at El Bajío, Gaunajuato) sponsored by CEMCA and with the purpose of better understanding the use of geological resources in the middle valley area of the Lerma river, surface surveys as well as geological samples of obsidian and other stones were carried out within the region of Sierra de los Agustinos. The main purpose was to locate and record all of the archaeological sites within the Sierra de los Agustinos and to take geological and archaeological samples of the various deposits of raw materials in the region. The emphasis of the study was on the obsidian for its subsequent chemical characterization analyzed using the technique called neutron activation.
Véronique Darras (Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos) and Brigitte Faugere (Univ. of Paris)
Chronology of the Chupícuaro culture: Stratigraphic studies and radiocarbon dating.
The archaeological surveys that have been carried out since 1999 in the Solís dam region (State of Guanajuato), have allowed for the updating of knowledge about Chupícuaros culture. The excavations at the JR 24 site in particular have revealed the accumulation of anthropic sediments that measure more than five meters thick. This stratigraphy establishes an unpublished reference for the preparation of a new chrono-ceramic sequence. The interpretation and the mutual correlations of the different stratigraphic units allow us to clearly understand the process of settlement formation, to identify the successive occupation stages, and to reconstruct the ways in which the location was reconditioned. The material analysis and the contribution of approximately fifteen radiochronometric datings place the occupation as being between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D. This presentation proposes to discuss the information obtained by the stratification and the results from the radiochronometric datings.
Rodrigo Esparza López (Colegio de Michoacán) and Carla Ponce Ordaz (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán)
The archaeological context of Guachimontones obsidian in Jalisco.
During the surveys carried out in the archaeological site Los Guachimontones, a large quantity of obsidian material was recovered. Among the materials recovered, most were blades or macroblades, prismatic blades, scrapers, and awls, among other artifacts. The location of these artifacts, in addition to their color, type, origin and other similar characteristics, have allowed us to further study the utilization of obsidian common in the region. In this survey we will see the results obtained to date from this analysis and comment on the possible relationships with other parts of Western Mexico.
Eugenia Fernández Villanueva (Colegio de Michoacán)
The Archaeological Project of the Acuitzio plateau, [Chichimecas Hill], Michoacán.
This presentation presents the preliminary results of the first season of fieldwork in El Cerro de los Chichimecas (The Hill of the Chichimecas), also known as Zaragoza, an archaeological site located in the municipality of La Piedad, Michoacán, on the border with the state of Guanajuato. This site covers a little more than fifty-nine hectares in which there are one hundred and twelve petroglyphs distributed and a large amount of artificial levelings in the terrain. Among the most relevant architectural elements is a ballcourt which is part of the main set of structures. The analysis of the settlement pattern and of the pottery (which has been classified in its totality) allows for speculations about the sites regional context.
In addition to the excavations carried out in this first field season, a map was also created that combines several survey techniques and constitutes a significant contribution to the archaeological work.
Sara Fernández Mendiola (INAH)
Restoration and analysis of building elements from Guachimontones, Jalisco.
The architecture in the archaeological zone of Los Guachimontones presents certain characteristics that make it unique to Mesoamerica. In addition to its well known circular shape, the use of other constructive aspects is worth noting; for example the use of adobe, burnt clay, flattened mud and clay are some of the building materials and surfaces that are still preserved. In this talk we discuss these cases as well as the restoration and consolidation work mainly done in the circles and ballgames, and their similarities with other parts of Mesoamerica.
Dorothy Hosler (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Copper production in the hot land and the southern Sierra Madre, Guerrero.
The 1998 archaeological survey carried out in southern Sierra Madre, in the State of Guerrero, identified five prehispanic sites of copper production. These are the first sites of metal production discovered to date in Mesoamerica and the most important of them is El Manchón, located in southern Sierra Madre. We have carried out two seasons of fieldwork at this site, which consisted of a major area of smelting with great quantities of slag and two distinct living and activity areas that included long and low rectangle mounds. This site has been tentatively dated to 1300 A.D., although this date, which is based on two radiocarbon samples and some ceramic fragments, could be modified. Although this investigation is still in its initial stage, it is somewhat surprising that the material remains from the structures as well as from the ceramics do not resemble the Tarascan or Aztec materials. This raises new questions to what has already been mentioned by many scholars, that the conflicts between the Tarascans and the Aztecs in this region were based on competition to access the copper deposits and other minerals.
Ana Ma. Jarquín (INAH-Colima)
La Campana, Colima: Recent excavations and proposed relations with Central Mexico.
The excavations within the ceremonial center of La Campanas archaeological zone, located in the northwest region of the city of Colima, have allowed for the defining of some features that show a relationship between some elements of the early settlement with one of the most important societies in Mesoamerica during the Classic period: Teotihuacán. In addition, certain findings that were interpreted from the mythology and Mesoamerican cosmological conceptions are evidence of the cultural unity of the area. In general, we intend to present an overview of the site and its relationships, seeking to make some contributions to the knowledge of the early societies that inhabited the territory of the current State of Colima.
Catherine Liot, Javier Reveles, Susana Ramírez de Swartz, Cinthya Cárdenas, Franca Mata R. Carmen Melgarejo, Leonardo Santoyo and Victoria Bojorquez
La Peña, Sayula Basin, Jalisco: A transition site between the Epiclassic and Early Postclassic. Field seasons 2000 and 2002.
In 1997 severe looting was reported in the La Peña archaeological site located in the eastern arm of the Sayula Basin, Jalisco. The archaeological salvage at the site revealed that it was an economic and political enclave of the Aztatlán Tradition known locally as the Cojumatlán Complex; this stage marks the transition between the Epiclassic and Early Postclassic periods in Western Mexico. Within the framework of the project entitled "Transformaciones Socioculturales y Tecnológicas entre el Epiclásico y el Postclásico Temprano en el Occidente de México: Arqueología de la Cuenca de Sayula" (Sociocultural and Technological Transformations between the Epiclassic and Early Postclassic in Western Mexico: Sayula Basin Archaeology), (INAH, Univ. de Guadalajara, CONACYT), two field seasons were carried out in 2000 and 2002 (Archaeological salvage). The new discoveries documented four constructive stages which apparently correspond to three chronological phases: Tizapán phase (1150-1300 A.D.), Cojumatlán phase (850-1150 A.D.) and an earlier one which probably corresponds to the Chapala phase. In addition, a layer that indicates an abandonment of the site was discovered, possibly between the Chapala phase and the other two phases. Within the excavated contexts we found habitational areas apparently related to the elites, as well as ritual type areas such as altars, plazas, and cemeteries. In addition, some hydraulic works for control and better use of the water were also identified.
Lorenza López Mestas (INAH-Jalisco)
Specialization in Craft production and ideological representation in the beginnings of the Teuchitlán tradition.
In this presentation the craft production specialization towards the beginnings of the Teuchitlán tradition (Arenal phase, 300 B.C. to 250 A.D.) is analyzed. A model of controlled craft production by an elite or dominant sector is proposed, and at the same time decorative motifs are emphasized as a vehicle for ideological representation and the ceramic styles are compared with other types of cultural material, as well as with the ceramics reported from neighboring regions.
Joseph Mountjoy (Univ. of North Carolina-Greensboro)
Archaeological findings from the 2002 field season in the Middle Formative cemetery of El Pantano, Jalisco.
This is a summary of the findings from the excavations of the 2002 field season at the Middle Formative cemetery (ca. 800 B.C.) of El Pantano, Jalisco. A description of the offering pieces found accompanying the remains of approximately twenty-five people discovered in nine cist burials is included. Among the offerings we found approximately twenty-six ceramic vessels, three clay figurines, a stone figurine, several stone manual tools, and some jadeite and iron pyrite ornaments. Special emphasis is placed on the relations with the Capacha culture of Colima and along the Pacific Coast up to the northern region of Perú.
Ángeles Olay (INAH-Colima)
Households at El Chanal, Colima.
The archaeological site of El Chanal, situated in the Colima Valley, has an approximate extension of 192 hectares. Due to the problems associated with the surge of looting that shook various parts of west Mexico between 1940 and 1970, the population growth in the urban areas, and the successive "rock removing" programs to encourage certain types of crop farming, a large part of the settlement has been destroyed or modified. In this paper we present the results obtained through various archaeological salvages performed in the vicinity of the ceremonial areas of the site, which give indications with respect to the form in which the domestic spaces were organized. The recovery of this information is important, because it can be contrasted with the residential complexes explored within the settlement itself.
Grégory Pereira (Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos)
The Guadalupe Hill: Funerary customs of the Classic period in the Zacapu Basin, Michoacán.
The Guadalupe site is located in Las Lomas de Zacapu area, Michoacán, and has received little attention from scholars studying west Mexican cultures. This is one of the pre-Tarascan settlements that has been widely excavated over the last few years. Besides fully contributing to the definition of the Jarácuaro, Lupe and Palacio complexes from the sequence of the Zacapu Basin, the tasks carried out in the framework of CEMCAs archaeological projects have allowed us to obtain new and abundant data about the funerary customs and the antropo-physical features of the populations which inhabited the zone between 500 and 950 C.E.
Here we will present a summary of the results obtained, focusing more specifically on the mortuary practices and their implications on the ideologies of the society that preceded the rise of the Postclassic Tarascan State.
Robert B. Pickering (Denver Museum of Natural Science) and Ephraim Cuevas (Denver Museum of Natural Science)
Characterization of manganese flecks in western artifacts.
There are in private collections and museums throughout the world great amounts of figurines from West Mexico; virtually all of the genuine ones come from looting. However, looting has not been able to fulfill the demand in the market, therefore the manufacture of copies of ancient figurines has a long history. This has been documented at last since Batres (1910) innovative study. Many people who manufacture these modern ceramics are not just accomplished potters, but also refer to the archaeological literature. After many years of looting and falsification, using figurines for serious research has become risky.
It is important to develop methods to determine the authenticity of Prehispanic figurines, so as to be able to interpret them correctly. The analyses of changes in the figurines after their burial in tombs, specifically the apparition of manganese stains and of insect pupae, have appeared as objective and non-destructive methods to determine the authenticity of the shaft-tomb figures from West Mexico.
Helen Pollard (Michigan State Univ.)
Erongarícuaro, Michoacán and the Teotihuacán and Tarascan States.
In the recent fieldwork at Erongarícuaro, Michoacán, we carried out survey of the site and mapping and as well as obtained surface samples. This research has not only provided the first systematic data on this Tarascan administrative center, but also the best evidence of a Loma Alta occupancy in the Pátzcuaro basin. Three cornfields were excavated, the first two are located within an area of artificial platforms and ramps that were probably part of the Late Postclassic administrative-ritual center as evidenced from the collections of tarascan polychrome, pipes, large quantities of prismatic blades, obsidian cores and scrapers. In the third cornfield a block of 16m2 was excavated in the sites main area, on a low rising. Additionally, a pit of 4m2 was excavated near the eastern limit of the site. These deposits include a series of floors, fire pits, walls, remains of wood and burials that belong to Loma Alta 2 and 3 phases.
This presentation will discuss the results of the analysis obtained to date, an analysis which increases our understanding about the local and regional economic networks of the Tarascan State. Moreover, this analysis clarifies the nature of Loma Alta society and their relations inside Michoacán as well as with the contemporary State of Teotihuacán.
Sean M. Smith (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán) and Jorge Herrejón (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán)
Epiclassic households at the Guachimontones archaeological site.
During the 2001-2002 field season, under the supervision of Dr. Phil Weigand, excavations were carried out in the households known as Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 located in the protected zone of the Los Guachimontones archaeological site, about 400m south of the monumental zone. While exploring the area of Workshop 1, a platform from the Epiclassic period (900-1250 A.D.) was identified; this platform is constituted by two internal structures, one to the south and the other one to the west. These two structures make up a patio that contains a fire pit of about 5m in diameter, which has been interpreted as a field for the "mitote". Workshop 2 also corresponds to the Epiclassic period and different metal materials, bones, obsidians and ceramics as well as offerings were discovered. This data will be very helpful in better understanding the events in the study region for the Epiclassic period.
Glenn Stuart (Arizona State Univ.)
Wetlands agriculture at the heart of the Teuchitlán tradition.
We discuss the field study and laboratory results that confirm the existence of a system of wetlands agriculture during the Classic period in the nuclear area of the Teuchitlan tradition. The system of drainage channels and platforms that were built in the Magdalena lagoon during the Early Classic period (200-400 A.D.), are similar to the "chinampas" (floating gardens) of Central Mexico, but structurally, the two systems are very different from one another. The limited depth of the Magdalena channels indicates that even though the excess of water was not a problem, a considerable amount of engineering skill was used for the control of the water levels, as well as constructing a system in a manner that could have function year round; therefore, it was similar to the chinampas of the Mexico Basin from a functional perspective. This agricultural system could have been controlled by the elites of the Teuchitlán tradition and perhaps contributed to their rise to power.
Phil Weigand (Colegio de Michoacán) and Acelia García de Weigand (Proyecto Arqueológico Teuchitlán)
The monumental ballcourt of the Guachimontones of Teuchitlán.
The monumental precinct of circular buildings in the Guachimontones, near Teuchitlán, Jalisco, has one of the monumental ballcourts that has been found in the area around the Tequila volcano (the others are in Santa Quiteria, Loma Alta, Ahualulco, Saucillo, and probably Navajas and Peñol de Santa Rosalía as well). These ballcourts measure at least 80m in length with a total measurement reaching 100m or more. Only one of these monumental ballcourts has been excavated to date, the Guachimontones. This ballcourt measures 91m long with an average width of 9.5m. Its total measurement is 111 × 22m. It is the biggest ballcourt in Mesoamerica for the Late Formative and Early/Middle Classic periods. We present details of the ballcourts construction, as well as its relation with surrounding concentric circular buildings (circles 1, 2 and 4) within the enclosure. In the context of segmentary States that has been proposed as the social system for the Teuchitlán tradition, we also propose an economic and political model for the use of these monumental ballcourts, relating them with the more abundant smaller ballcourts discovered throughout the region (like the one excavated in Huitzilapa).
Eduardo Williams (Colegio de Michoacán)
Archaeological markers of salt mine production activities in Michoacán.
In this paper we present etnoarchaeological data about salt production with traditional techniques in San Nicolás Simirao, in the Cuitzeo Basin, and La Placita, on the coast of Michoacán. The studies made to date in these areas allow us to identify the procedures and techniques related with the production of sodium chloride (i.e. leached soils, brine evaporation), as well as the material elements of this traditional technology that can be used as an archaeological indicators (specialized clay vessels, fossilized canals, evaporation tubs, etc.). Finally, an assessment of the results obtained by the project to date is made and perspectives for future investigations are discussed.
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