Interregional Interaction and Dynamic Cultural Process in Mesoamerica

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Archaeologists have long recognized the crucial role of interregional interaction in the development and cultural dynamics of ancient societies. In Mesoamerica, however, an expanding awareness of details in the archaeological, art historical, and epigraphic records suggests that the relationship between interaction and shifting sociocultural processes is highly complex and nuanced. The aim of this symposium is to explore the multiple potentialities of movement, migration, exchange, and interaction as catalysts for dynamic variability in cultural systems, complementing standard approaches that often focus on unidirectional causation (i.e., the appearance of talud-tablero architecture or the tripod vessel form as unilaterally indicative of a specifically “Teotihuacan” or the more nebulous “Central Mexican” presence and influence). Although not limited to specific temporal, spatial, or cultural contexts within Mesoamerica, papers examine the role that interregional exchange played in the creation of systems of shared ideologies, the production of regional or “international” artistic and architectural styles, shifting sociopolitical patterns, and dynamic changes in cultural practices, meanings, and values. The aim of this symposium is to contribute to contemporary debate by highlighting, engaging, and provoking questions pertinent to our understanding of the relationship between interregional interaction and dynamic sociocultural processes in multiple Mesoamerican cultural histories.

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  • Documents (7)

  • Formative Period Interregional Interaction and the Emergence of Mesoamerican Scripts (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joshua Englehardt. Michael Carrasco.

    Interregional interaction often serves as a catalyst for cultural innovation. This paper explores the effects of interaction on the development of Mesoamerican scripts during the Formative period. Current models suggest that the transition from iconography to phonetic writing involved the recontextualization of visual symbols: motifs were excised from the pictorial frameworks in which they were usually contextualized and enclosed within the emergent textual–linguistic conventions and...

  • Interaction as Movement, Movement as Interaction: The Tripod Vessel in the Maya Region (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bryan Schaeffer.

    Interaction between the central Mexican city of Teotihuacan and the Maya region, and the subsequent influence of Teotihuacan on Maya material culture, has been much discussed. Although many scholars have noted the tripod cylindrical vessel as a diagnostic trait of Teotihuacan and as evidence of interaction and/or influence in other areas of Mesoamerica, further examinations of the tripod ceramic vessels and their imagery found in the Maya area have not been fully developed. The tripod vessel...

  • Language contact and intergroup interaction in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Justeson.

    Research on contact linguistics has shown that, and to a great extent how, the nature of the linguistic influence of speakers of different languages on one another relates systematically to the nature of the interactions among speakers of these languages. This paper will survey some of the evidence and inferences that historical linguistics can contribute to some of the culture-historical situations addressed by other papers in this symposium, from varying time frames, and will address some of...

  • Metal Trade and Interregional Dynamics of the Mesoamerican Late Postclassic Period (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Blanca Maldonado. Niklas Schulze.

    The way people were placed in relation to each other was fundamental to the distinctive character of Mesoamerica, as a historically linked series of socially stratified, economically differentiated, complex societies. Long-distance exchange, one of the practices through which intensive interaction between different peoples was fostered, was centrally concerned with obtaining materials used for marking distinctions between commoners and nobles. Costume was a major means of marking distinctions...

  • Round and Round We Go: Cholula, Rotating Power Structures and Social Stability in Mesoamerica (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Knab. John Pohl.

    Rotating power structures of the mayordomías circulares in Cholula show extreme stability through time. We will analyze how these systems work and why they are so effective using notions of social capital to show how these and other organizations in Cholula build up social capital needed to keep Cholula’s baroquely complicated system of ritual festivals running. In so doing, we will show that the system can be sourced to the early post conquest when it was maintained by the city's merchants and...

  • Systemic Interdependencies in the Mesoamerican World System (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ramiro Aguayo Haro. Agapi Filini.

    The Mesoamerican world system was characterized by diverse kinds of interdependencies since the Preclassic to the Postclassic periods. Interdependencies generate sources of power such as economic and ideological which affect social structures well beyond cultural boundaries. This paper contends that in a highly complex exchange network that dominated the Mesoamerican landscape power was negotiated at the local and supralocal networks, and resulted in interdependencies of various levels and among...

  • Variation and Similarity in Obsidian Tool Styles and Technologies at the Zaragoza-Oyameles Source Area, Puebla, Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only J. Gregory Smith. Charles L. F. Knight.

    The nature and degree of interaction between the Classic period centers of Teotihuacan and Cantona is investigated through two types of obsidian artifacts that characterize Early to Late Classic period obsidian use in the central-east highlands of Mexico: prismatic blades and bifacial dart points. At the Zaragoza-Oyameles source area in eastern Puebla, Mexico the recovery of dart point preforms next to obsidian quarries, combined with chemical analysis indicates that these points were crafted at...