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After Monte Albán

After Monte Albán: Transformation and Negotiation in Oaxaca, Mexico

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    After Monte Albán
    Book Description:

    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.   Contributors include Jeffrey P. Blomster, Bruce E. Byland, Gerardo Gutierrez, Byron Ellsworth Hamann, Arthur A. Joyce, Stacie M. King, Michael D. Lind, Robert Markens, Cira Martínez López, Michel R. Oudijk, and Marcus Winter.

    eISBN: 978-0-87081-940-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Lindsay Jones

    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 somewhat 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 of the great Zapotec capital Monte Albán, which emerged sometime around 500 BCE. Objects of endless debate, these highly distinctive carvings—dozens of which were found either in their original positions on the façade of Building L, one of...

    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Jeffrey P. Blomster
  5. Part I. The Late Classic/Postclassic in Oaxaca: An Introduction

      (pp. 3-46)
      Jeffrey P. Blomster

      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 the Valley of Oaxaca, centered at the Zapotec city of Monte Albán, founded ca. 500 BCE on a hill in the center of the valley. While Monte Albán and other states in disparate regions of Oaxaca began downward...

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

    • 2 Advances in Defining the Classic-Postclassic Portion of the Valley of Oaxaca Ceramic Chronology: OCCURRENCE AND PHYLETIC SERIATION
      (pp. 49-94)
      Robert Markens

      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 most apparent by reviewing the existing regional ceramic chronologies for the State of Oaxaca (Figure 2.1). Although many of the state’s regional chronologies were formulated decades ago, phases lasting 500 years or even longer are immediately apparent in a number...

    • 3 The Postclassic Period in the Valley of Oaxaca: THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ETHNOHISTORICAL RECORDS
      (pp. 95-118)
      Michel R. Oudijk

      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 scholars in many other Mesoamerican regions envy. It is consequently disturbing and disappointing that historians and archaeologists alike have not taken full advantage of this opportunity. There are two principal reasons for this failure. On the one hand, ethnohistorical studies using pictorials...

      (pp. 119-168)
      Byron Ellsworth Hamann

      On March 31, 2000, the name of Oaxacanist John Pohl was projected onto thousands 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 century, the architecture of the film’s volcano-shadowed city merged 3,000 years of Mesoamerican visual history. From the Formative period (1200 BCE–250 CE) came colossal Olmec heads and “were-jaguar” architectural masks. From the...

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

    • 5 The Classic to Postclassic at Lambityeco
      (pp. 171-192)
      Michael D. Lind

      Archaeologists specialize in the study of culture change (Plog 1974). Traditional archaeological approaches to the study of culture change involve the use of stratigraphic 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 in stratigraphic contexts. Collections of diagnostic artifact types are used to determine the number of sites in a region and their size, complexity, and geographical spacing for each phase. The changes in these archaeological data from one phase to the next...

    • 6 Ethnohistory, Oral History, and Archaeology at Macuilxóchitl: PERSPECTIVES ON THE POSTCLASSIC PERIOD (800–1521 CE) IN THE VALLEY OF OAXACA
      (pp. 193-216)
      Robert Markens, Marcus Winter and Cira Martínez López

      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 city-states, known to the Spanish in the sixteenth century as cacicazgos, emerged (Chapter 1; Oudijk 2000:10; 2002:73–76). Recently, the regional ceramic chronology for the Classic-Postclassic period transition has been illuminated through...

  8. Part IV. Changing Power Relations and Interaction in the Lower Río Verde Valley

      (pp. 219-254)
      Arthur A. Joyce

      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, and epigraphic research suggests that this period was characterized by dramatic changes in political institutions and ruling ideologies as well as depopulation in some regions (Cowgill 1979; Culbert 1973; Demarest et al. 2004; Diehl and Berlo 1989; Sabloff and Andrews 1986;...

    • 8 Interregional Networks of the Oaxacan Early Postclassic: CONNECTING THE COAST AND THE HIGHLANDS
      (pp. 255-292)
      Stacie M. King

      Rulers of successful highland Mesoamerican cities, such as Teotihuacan and Monte Albán, had good reason for establishing and maintaining ties with coastal Oaxacan communities during the prehispanic era. The climatological and ecological regime of coastal Oaxaca made it a highly valuable and politically important region throughout prehispanic and early Colonial Mesoamerica. The raw material for many desirable Mesoamerican luxury goods, such as feathers, marine shell, pupura dye, cacao, and cotton were abundantly available in coastal Oaxaca, as were salt and palm products (e.g., oils and fibers) (Byland and Pohl 1994; Feinman and Nicholas 1992; Monaghan 1994; Spores 1993). The lower...

  9. Part V. Sacred History and Legitimization in the Mixteca Alta

    • 9 Legitimization, Negotiation, and Appropriation in Postclassic Oaxaca: MIXTEC STONE CODICES
      (pp. 295-330)
      Jeffrey P. Blomster

      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 of Nochixtlán. In the wake of the collapse of large states, factional competition prevailed within and between cacicazgos. Mixtecs saw opportunities for new alliances and new ways in which to inscribe changing political power and legitimacy. Invoking external...

      (pp. 331-364)
      Bruce E. Byland

      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, 1998; Monaghan 1995; Pohl 1994a, 1994b; Rincón Mautner 1997, 1999, 2000; Smith 1983a; Spores 1993; Terraciano 2001). The Classic-Postclassic transition has traditionally been seen as a period of sudden transformation of governments from the large centers of the Classic period to...

  10. Part VI. New Research Frontiers in Oaxaca and Eastern Guerrero

    • 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?
      (pp. 367-392)
      Gerardo Gutiérrez

      This chapter focuses on archaeological data from eastern Guerrero, an area along the western border of Oaxaca in the so-called La Montaña region and municipalities of the Costa Chica (Figure 11.1). Presented here are preliminary findings as related to settlement patterns, ceramic distributions, and sculpture. I argue that eastern Guerrero demonstrates a strong continuity of archaeological features from the Classic to Postclassic periods, especially in settlement patterns and the calendrical system. Eastern Guerrero archaeology provides a case study to compare and contrast some proposed hypotheses and ideas on the cultural development of neighboring Oaxaca cultures (Kowalewski et al. 1989), especially...

    • 12 Classic to Postclassic in Four Oaxaca Regions: THE MAZATECA, THE CHINANTLA, THE MIXE REGION, AND THE SOUTHERN ISTHMUS
      (pp. 393-426)
      Marcus Winter

      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 represented by prehispanic remains. In fact, several groups are practically undocumented archaeologically since many regions of Oaxaca have yet to be explored.

      Zapotecs and Mixtecs are Oaxaca’s two most...

  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 427-428)
  12. Index
    (pp. 429-438)