Monday, March 19, 2018

Publication Round-Up

Angela Huster

The past two years have seen the publication of several articles, book chapters, and a dissertation related to the project. If you would like a copy, please contact me or the authors. (If you've written something on the project and I missed it, please let me know!)

Huster, Angela C.
                2018       Regional-Level Exchange in Postclassic Central Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 50: 40-53.

This article summarizes Middle and Late Postclassic trade patterns in ceramics in the Basin of Mexico, Morelos, and Toluca Valley, using data from Calixtlahuaca and several other published projects. It evaluates three hypotheses for the origins of the Postclassic market system and finds both bottom-up and top-down processes played roles, but that that the market system was not a product of the Aztec Empire.

Huster, Angela C.
                2016       The Effects of Aztec Conquest on Provincial Commoner Households at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico. Doctoral Dissertation, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

An evaluation of Aztec rulership strategies, using Calixtlahuaca as a case study. Includes trade, craft production, household wealth, and identity based on domestic ritual and food preparation.

Manin, Aurélie, Raphaël Cornette and Christine Lefèvre
                2016       Sexual dimorphism among Mesoamerican turkeys: a key for understanding past husbandry. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 10:526-533.

This paper is an analysis of turkey bones from multiple Classic and Postclassic sites in Western Mesoamerica, including Calixtlahuaca. It shows that Mesoamerican turkey flocks were heavily skewed toward female birds, which is consistent with flocks managed for a mix of egg and meat production.

Manin, Aurélie and Christine Lefèvre
                2016       The use of animals in Northern Mesoamerica, between the Classic and the Conquest (200-1521 AD). An attempt at regional synthesis on central Mexico. Anthropozoologica 51(2):127-147.

This paper is an analysis of faunal material from multiple Classic and Postclassic sites in Western Mesoamerica, including Calixtlahuaca. Calixtlahuaca shows a relatively heavy reliance on dog, and somewhat less on hunted on garden-hunted species.

Sergheraert, Maëlle
                2016       Aztec Provinces of the Central Highlands. In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, edited by D. L. Nichols and E. Rodríguez-Alegría, pp. 463-472. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

An overview of the archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence for Aztec rule in Central Mexico, using Calixtlahuaca as a case study.

Smith, Michael E.
                2016       Aztec Urbanism: Cities and Towns. In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, edited by D. L. Nichols and E. Rodríguez-Alegría, pp. 201-218. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

An overview of organization, form, population, and common features of Aztec cities, including Calixtlahuaca.

Umberger, Emily and Casandra Hernández Fahan
                2017       Matlatzinco Before the Aztecs: José García Payón and the Sculptural Corpus of Calixtlahuaca. Ancient Mesoamerica 28(1):1-19.

This work summarizes Emily, Casandra and Maëlle’s work on the stone sculptures from the Garcia Payón excavations at Calixtlahuaca. While the best-known sculptures from the site are Aztec-style pieces, there are also a large number of pieces in a local Matlatzinca style, which are described for the first time in this article.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

But what were they doing...

One of the ongoing questions at Calixtlahuaca has been the degree of specialized production at the site. This could either take the form of particular households that focused on producing high quantities of a particular type of good, or the entire site specializing in producing something for trade on a regional scale. We know that specialization at both of these levels occurs at sites in both the Basin of Mexico and in Morelos. Among many other cases, the site of Otumba included specialized workshops to produce obsidian tools, and a neighborhood that made clay figurines and spindle whorls (Charlton, et al. 1991; Parry 1990). Cuexcomate and Capilco in Morelos has site-wide specialization in cotton production, and some households also made amate-bark paper (Fauman-Fichman 1999; Smith and Heath-Smith 1993).

Calixtlahuaca has been frustrating in this regard – most of the standard lines of evidence for craft production have come back negative (Huster 2016:Chap. 5). Neither the survey nor the excavation located areas of intensive obsidian working. The INAA and petrographic data for ceramics showed a wide range of variation within the broader local groups, a pattern consistent with many small producers. We only located a couple of molds for making figurines or other small clay objects, and there are very few duplicates among the finished molded items among our collections. There are a few spindle whorls for cotton spinning, but the frequencies are far lower than in other areas where it was too also too cold to grow cotton.

I’m currently evaluating whether maguey (agave) production might be sitewide or regional-scale specialty. I had previously discarded it a household-level specialization, because pretty much all of the households had some evidence for maguey textile production and none of them stood out as unusual when compared within the site. However, when compared on a regional scale, some lines of evidence suggest that the amount of maguey processing was similar to sites such as Cihuatecpan or Tepetitlan (Cobean and Mastache 1999; Evans 2005), which researchers have argued were sites specializing in maguey products. This would be an interesting finding, because the usual explanation is that people in Central Mexico focus on growing maguey (and other cacti) in areas where it is too dry to reliably grow corn (Parsons and Darling 2000), and the number of cornfields I flailed through while surveying Calixtlahuaca would suggest that this is not the case there. The Codex Mendoza tribute lists for the provide also include both maguey fiber textiles (a fairly uncommon item, limited to a single geographic cluster of provinces) and unusually high quantities of corn (2 bins, rather than the usual one), which would suggest that the two crops were both economically important in the region.

One of the 2006 survey crews trying to figure out how to lay out a surface collection in the middle of a modern cornfield at the site.

Charlton, Thomas H., Deborah L. Nichols and Cynthia Otis Charlton
                1991       Aztec craft production and specialization: archaeological evidence from the city-state of Otumba, Mexico. World Archaeology 23:p. 98-114.

Cobean, Robert H. and Alba Guadalupe Mastache
                1999       Tepetitlán: A Rural Household in the Toltec Heartland / Tepetitlán: Un Espacio Doméstico Rural en el Area de Tula. Serie Arqueología de México. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City.

Evans, Susan Toby
                2005       Men, Women and Maguey: The Houshold Division of Labor Among Aztec Farmers. In Settlement, subsistence, and social complexity : essays honoring the legacy of Jeffrey R. Parsons, edited by R. E. Blanton. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles.

Fauman-Fichman, Ruth
                1999       Postclassic Craft Prodution in Morelos, Mexico: The Cotton Thread Industry in the Provinces. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

Huster, Angela C.
                2016       The Effects of Aztec Conquest on Provincial Commoner Households at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico. Doctoral Dissertation, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

Parry, William J.
                1990       Analysis of Chipped Stone Artifacts from Otumba and Neighboring Rural Sites in the Eastern Teotihuacan Valley of Mexico. In Preliminary Report of Recent Research in the Otumba City-State, edited by T. H. Charlton and D. L. Nichols. vol. 3. University of Iowa, Department of Anthropology, Research Report, Iowa City.

Parsons, Jeffrey R and J Andrew Darling
                2000       Maguey (Agave spp.) utilization in Mesoamerican civilization: a case for precolumbian" Pastoralism". Boletín de la Sociedad Botánica de México (66):81-91.

Smith, Michael E. and Cynthia Heath-Smith
                1993       Rural Economy in Late Postclassic Morelos: An Archaeological Study. In Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm, edited by M. G. Hodge and M. E. Smith, pp. 349-376. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, Albany.