Comparative Approaches to Postclassic Mesoamerican Ceramics

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

The ability to compare data sets is vital for establishing frameworks for understanding human behavior within and between sites and time periods. Ceramic data sets can be difficult to compare because of differing classification schemes and sampling procedures. Importantly, however, ceramic production and consumption influence and are influenced by multiple aspects of human societies, including resource procurement and availability, political economy, and social status. In this session, we bring together scholars working on ceramic artifacts during the Postclassic period (AD 1000-1521) in central and western Mesoamerica to highlight research in comparative studies. The Postclassic in this region experienced widespread political changes, including the development and consolidation of the Aztec and Purépecha Empires, and distinctive ceramic traditions associated with the multiple social groups within these empires. The papers here present ongoing intra-site, inter-site, regional, and temporal approaches to studying Postclassic ceramics. This session contributes to an ongoing dialogue on how we can compare ceramics and the complex links between changing regional and local politics and production.

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  • Documents (6)

  • 3,065 Sherd Disks and their Potential Uses in Calixtlahuaca in the Toluca Valley (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kea Warren.

    Among the artifacts found at the site of Calixtlahuaca, excavations recovered an unusually large quantity of sherd disks. Calixtlahuaca is an Aztec Postclassic (AD 1130-1530) site located in the Toluca Valley of Central Mexico. These sherd disks, or tejos, were created from bowls and pots broken during antiquity. The potsherds were worked until they were circular in shape. Other researchers have suggested potential uses for these worked sherds, including gaming tokens (for the game patolli), net...

  • Consuming in Empire: The Materiality of Household Consumption at Postclassic and Colonial Xaltocan, Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Overholtzer.

    Consumption, as Paul Mullins explains, "revolves around the acquisition of things to confirm, display, accent, mask, and imagine who we are and who we wish to be." Consumer choices of goods in the marketplace relate to the desire to connect oneself with particular networks of people and places on the landscape, and these connections play a role in the formation of personal and household identity. Here, I present research on the social dimensions inherent in economic practices, which are notably...

  • Examining elite domestic practices in Postclassic Xaltocan, Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kirby Farah.

    The Postclassic site of Xaltocan has been the focus of archaeological investigation for nearly 30 years. Over this period a solid ceramic chronology for the site has been established thanks in large part to the pioneering efforts of Elizabeth Brumfiel and her students. While the vast majority of archaeological research at Xaltocan has focused predominately on commoner contexts, recent archaeological excavations of elite domestic spaces at Xaltocan inform and expand upon the current ceramic...

  • Material Culture Change, Continuity, and Innovation at Postclassic and Early Colonial Achiutla, Oaxaca, Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jamie Forde.

    In this poster, I present results of an analysis of ceramic materials recovered from domestic contexts at the Postclassic and Colonial site of Achiutla, located in the Mixtec highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico. Materials from distinct household middens corresponding to the Postclassic and Colonial periods, respectively, facilitate intra-site comparisons of domestic ceramic assemblages, providing insights regarding cultural change and continuity at the micro-level over the course of the Spanish...

  • Patterns of Postclassic Ceramic Exchange in the Toluca Valley and Surrounding Areas of Central Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Angela Huster.

    In Central Mexico, the Late Postclassic period encompasses the expansion of both a robust market system and the growth of the Aztec Empire. However, increasingly refined chronologies in multiple subregions have made it clear that changes in economic and political organization did not happen simultaneously, nor did they happen consistently across the region. This poster presents data on the changing geographic patterning and intensity of ceramic exchange at the site of Calixtlahuaca, in the...

  • Toward a Comparative Approach: Postclassic (AD 900-1521) Ceramics from the Pátzcuaro and Zacapu Basins, Michoacán, Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anna Cohen. Elsa Jadot.

    Research on the Purépecha Empire (AD 1350-1521) in western Mexico has traditionally focused on elite activities after imperial formation. Consequently, there is limited information about the mechanisms for imperial development and changes in internal social, political, and economic structures that must have occurred in pre-imperial contexts. Study of artifact production is particularly important for understanding political reorganization strategies because producers and consumers may have been...