Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Bridging the Gaps

Bridging the Gaps: Integrating Archaeology and History in Oaxaca, Mexico; A Volume in Memory of Bruce E. Byland

Danny Zborover
Peter C. Kroefges
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 416
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Bridging the Gaps
    Book Description:

    Bridging the Gaps: Integrating Archaeology and History in Oaxaca, Mexicodoes just that: it bridges the gap between archaeology and history of the Precolumbian, Colonial, and Republican eras of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, a cultural area encompassing several of the longest-enduring literate societies in the world.Fourteen case studies from an interdisciplinary group of archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnohistorians, and art historians consciously compare and contrast changes and continuities in material culture before and after the Spanish conquest, in Prehispanic and Colonial documents, and in oral traditions rooted in the present but reflecting upon the deep past. Contributors consider both indigenous and European perspectives while exposing and addressing the difficulties that arise from the application of this conjunctive approach.Inspired by the late Dr. Bruce E. Byland's work in the Mixteca, which exemplified the union of archaeological and historical evidence and inspired new generations of scholars,Bridging the Gapspromotes the practice of integrative studies to explore the complex intersections between social organization and political alliances, religion and sacred landscape, ethnic identity and mobility, colonialism and resistance, and territoriality and economic resources.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-329-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 From “1-Eye” to Bruce Byland: Literate Societies and Integrative Approaches in Oaxaca
    (pp. 1-54)
    Danny Zborover

    It is safe to assume that all past human societies were both material and historical, in the sense that all created objects and had developed visual and rhetorical strategies to encode and transmit social memory. Yet of those, only a few societies ever “materialized” their history to create durable record-keeping systems that would preserve their voices for future generations. Mesoamerican civilization was unified in the past, and defined in the present, by its shared material and intellectual achievements, most notably as expressed through art styles, iconography, architecture, ceramics, calendars, and writing systems (Kirchhoff 1952; R. Joyce 2004). The cultural area...

  5. 2 The Convergence of History and Archaeology in Mesoamerica
    (pp. 55-74)
    Ronald Spores

    It is a matter of consensus among Mesoamerican anthropologists that history, archaeology, ethnology and linguistics are inextricably linked. Investigators recognize that although their principal focus may be on a specific archaeological site or a component within that site, their study is incomplete without reference to historic, ethnographic, or linguistic materials. The integration of archaeology and historical documentation, as well as ethnological, biological, and linguistic research, has been of special significance in Mesoamerican studies for decades, but the roots of this convergent methodology run even deeper.

    The marriage of these fields extends back to Colonial times in the work of numerous...

  6. 3 Bruce Edward Byland, PhD: 1950–2008
    (pp. 75-82)
    John M.D. Pohl

    Oye! Saludos!” the farmer called from the hillside. Bruce stopped and immediately told us to hold up. We were used to these interruptions. In fact we welcomed them. These were becoming the opportunities we looked for during survey because the men out plowing their fields throughout the day invariably recollected stories about the ancient ruins and terraces that surrounded the Tilantongo countryside. The farmer signaled to his wife and children to call off the dogs and then charged down the slope to confront Bruce. “I hear you’re a doctor!” he called. Bruce was taken aback—there was no accounting for...

  7. 4 Multidisciplinary Fieldwork in Oaxaca
    (pp. 83-96)
    Viola König

    On May 17, 2008, our colleague Bruce Byland, an archaeologist and specialist in the Mixtec culture of Oaxaca, passed away. I am grateful that the editors promptly accepted my suggestion to dedicate this volume to Bruce. He had been an active representative in the “second generation” of the “Mixtec Codex Group” or “Mixtec Gang,” as they called themselves, centered initially around the art historians Nancy Troike, Mary Elizabeth Smith, and Emily Rabin, and the journalist Ross Parmenter. Being strongly influenced by Alfonso Caso’s work, the founding group concentrated on the decipherment and interpretation of the codices. At the same time,...

  8. 5 Mythstory and Archaeology: Of Earth Goddesses, Weaving Tools, and Buccal Masks
    (pp. 97-112)
    Geoffrey G. McCafferty and Sharisse D. McCafferty

    Shortly after publishing our “Engendering Tomb 7” paper (McCafferty and McCafferty 1994), I was accosted by a Real Oaxacan Archaeologist who demanded, “what gives you the authority to write about Oaxaca!?” Bruce Byland deserves much of the credit and blame. On a cold and dreary day in State College, Pennsylvania, way back in 1977, my former college roommate Dave Reed ran into eager grad-student Bruce posting notices in the Anthropology Department offering positions on his archaeological survey project in the Mixteca Alta. Always up for an adventure and looking to get out of the snow, my buddy Dave signed on...

  9. 6 Reconciling Disparate Evidence between the Mixtec Historical Codices and Archaeology: The Case of “Red and White Bundle” and “Hill of the Wasp”
    (pp. 113-130)
    Bruce E. Byland

    The Mixtec historical codices represent a remarkable documentary resource for the study of Postclassic political organizations in Oaxaca, Mexico and, indeed, for the study of pre-Columbian society in general. These documents are long screenfold manuscripts that relate genealogies of ruling families, narratives of warfare and alliance that often run for generations, and lists of communities that belonged to ancient polities. To make use of them in the quest for understanding political, social, and economic processes, we must be able to agree on basic interpretations of the meanings of the images that appear throughout the documents.

    Often that agreement is simple....

  10. 7 Mixteca-Puebla Polychromes and the Codices
    (pp. 131-156)
    Michael D. Lind

    At the time of the Spanish conquest, at least four different types of polychrome pottery were being produced and used in Central Mesoamerica, from the Valley of Mexico to the Valley of Oaxaca (figure 7.1). Collectively these polychromes are referred to asMixteca-Puebla polychrome, and they include Cholula polychrome, Mixteca polychrome, Acatlán polychrome, and Chinantla polychrome (Lind 1967; Moser 1969). There are actually eight types of Cholula polychrome that occur during different phases or time periods at Cholula, beginning in 900 CE and ending around 1650 CE (table 7.1). The polychromes that date between 900 and 1150 CE include Marta,...

  11. 8 Pluri-Ethnic Coixtlahuaca’s Longue Durée
    (pp. 157-208)
    Carlos Rincón Mautner

    An overview of scholarly efforts aimed at reconstructing the culture histories of indigenous groups inhabiting the vast area encompassing the Puebla-Tlaxcala Basin to Northwestern Oaxaca presents several paradoxes (figure 8.1). This region is considered the center for diversification of Otomanguean languages, and the proposed cultural foundations of its earliest inhabitants lie in the Tehuacán tradition (Winter et al. 1984). In Late Postclassic times, this same region became the heartland for the distinctive Mixteca-Puebla style. Although the historical trajectories of these groups eventually resulted in sociolinguistic differentiation and divergence from their common cultural roots, the timing, causative factors, and processes involved...

  12. 9 The Archaeology and History of Colonialism, Culture Contact, and Indigenous Cultural Development at Teozacoalco, Mixteca Alta
    (pp. 209-230)
    Stephen L. Whittington and Andrew Workinger

    Anthropology has been criticized for lacking the comprehensive theories of colonialism and culture contact needed to explain the full range of encounters and their behavioral impact for all time periods (Bartel 1985; Schortman and Urban 1998). This is significant because colonialism and contact are fundamentally related to cultural interactions and change, and their understanding can contribute to developing social theory (Rogers 2005). In this chapter we explore the issues of colonialism and culture contact in regards to recent investigations of Teozacoalco in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca. Teozacoalco participated in at least four major episodes of contact with foreign...

  13. 10 Salt Production and Trade in the Mixteca Baja: The Case of the Tonalá-Atoyac-Ihualtepec Salt Works
    (pp. 231-262)
    Bas van Doesburg and Ronald Spores

    In 1982, Mary Elizabeth Smith reported on the existence of a pictographic map in the village of San Vicente del Palmar, a small community located in the heart of the Mixteca Baja. Unfortunately, Smith’s discussion of the document at the American Society for Ethnohistory annual meeting was never published, and the large sheet ofamate(bark) paper received little attention thereafter, in spite of its beauty and traditional style. In 2000, Laura Rodríguez returned to the village with an interest in the topography painted on the document and was able to convince the village authorities to have the manuscript restored....

  14. 11 Integrating Oral Traditions and Archaeological Practice: The Case of San Miguel el Grande
    (pp. 263-278)
    Liana I. Jiménez Osorio and Emmanuel Posselt Santoyo

    The state of Oaxaca is characterized by its ethnic diversity and rich archaeological record.¹ It is divided into eight geographic regions, among which the Mixteca is further subdivided into the Alta, Baja, and Costa regions. These, in turn, show pronounced differences in microclimates due to the varying topography and altitude, which have provided a large spectrum of natural resources to its occupants and directly contributed to the formation of cultural identities on the regional and subregional levels. The Mixteca Alta, the focus of the present study, is distinguished by a historical trajectory that we nowadays perceive through the archaeological remains,...

  15. 12 Decolonizing Historical Archaeology in Southern Oaxaca, and Beyond
    (pp. 279-332)
    Danny Zborover

    The integration of archaeological and historical data has taken many shapes and forms throughout the centuries, but never achieved such a recognized status among scholars as it did with the current field of historical archaeology. With a rather humble beginning in the United States during the late 1960s, historical archaeology has now grown to become one of the most institutionalized subdisciplines worldwide, resulting in numerous volumes, peer-reviewed journals, professional societies, specialized conferences, and academic programs. The allure of the field to archaeologists can partially be explained with its promise to challenge the conceptual limits of our discipline, and encourage us...

  16. 13 Prehispanic and Colonial Chontal Communities on the Eastern Oaxaca Coast on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest
    (pp. 333-362)
    Peter C. Kroefges

    This chapter presents some considerations on the combined use of historical documents and archaeological materials for the study of the two most prominent prehispanic Chontal communities on the coast of Oaxaca: Huamelula and Astata. The focus is on changes in the sociopolitical integration, community organization, and economic activities of these two neighboring coastal Chontal communities, from their prehispanic beginnings into the Colonial period, around 1700 CE. Historical and archaeological evidence inform on these aspects at different degrees of depth, breadth, and detail. The focus is on how documentary sources and archaeological remains can serve to complement, confirm, or contradict each...

  17. 14 Locating the Hidden Transcripts of Colonialism: Archaeological and Historical Evidence from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
    (pp. 363-390)
    Judith Francis Zeitlin

    Archaeologists who work with written documents may feel emboldened by the layers of detail the historical record adds to the architectural and artifactual residue we are trained to decipher. The anonymous past becomes populated with individuals whose voices and actions can be fixed with chronological precision, rather than depending on the broad phases to which ceramics styles are assigned. Moreover, their testimonies enlighten our understandings of motivation and meaning, offering an antidote to processualist claims and giving substance to the emphasis on human agency that so many of us espouse. But if we are to make full value of the...

  18. 15 Using Nineteenth-Century Data in Contemporary Archaeological Studies: The View from Oaxaca and Germany
    (pp. 391-410)
    Viola König and Adam T. Sellen

    When we think about museum collections from Mesoamerica, especially those that are now part of institutions in Europe and in North America, an image of glass cases and dusty storerooms comes to mind, full to the brim with three-dimensional objects—most notably ceramics—that were excavated long ago by individuals who had little regard for the rigors of current archaeological practice.¹ Although it is generally true that the older archaeological collections from Mexico were not systematically excavated, we tend to overlook the wealth of associated information that documented, often in surprising detail, how and where these troves of objects were...

  19. List of Contributors
    (pp. 411-412)
  20. Index
    (pp. 413-428)