"Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes": Transitions and Thresholds throughout Central America and Beyond

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

The archaeological record presents both opportunities and challenges to archaeologists studying societal and environmental change in Mesoamerica and globally. This session explores multidisciplinary techniques to better understand the complexities of societal transitions in the ancient Maya world and beyond. Environmental and societal transitions are a complex but vital aspect of archaeology. Shifts in environmental patterns, social behaviors and changes in land use provide multiple datasets for analyzing resource extraction and human resilience. We consider case studies on diachronic change from archaeological investigations throughout Mesoamerica and neighboring regions. Patterns of change can include the shift from hunting and gathering to long term sedentism, the regional climate and soils, historical changes in trade, and shifts in political and economic power. This session will examine how we can search for and detect connections between environmental and societal changes throughout the archaeological record.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-12 of 12)

  • Documents (12)

  • The Blue Creek rejollada revisited: transitional imprints on sedimentological records (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Luisa Aebersold. Tim Beach. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach. Tom Guderjan. Fred Valdez.

    Early to mid-Holocene humans domesticated a wide variety of plants and animals, which widely changed societies and environments around the world. The Archaic period in the Maya Lowlands was suited for this transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture with its abundant resources such as edible wild plants and animals, fertile soils, and abundant freshwater. To better understand long-term societal and environmental changes by early inhabitants, we studied sedimentation and paleosols in a...

  • BREACHING SPIRITUAL BORDERS: How Indigenous Religious Ontologies Colonized Christianity (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shannon Iverson.

    In 1524, only three years after the military conquest of central Mexico was complete, twelve Franciscan friars arrived in New Spain to begin an ambitious religious conversion program. The friars arrived in a territory where landscapes, buildings, and everyday objects (such as foodstuffs and ceramic objects) were already “mythologized”—deeply imbued with supernatural connotations. For the Spanish priests, Indigenous worlds were always potential minefields of spiritual pollution. Therefore, though...

  • Climate Change and Chiefdom Ecodynamics in the Eastern Andean Cordillera of Colombia (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Smyth. Timothy Beach. Eric Weaver.

    Exploratory research into climate change and the formation of chiefdoms took place in the Valley of Leiva. Preliminary findings from cultural-environmental contexts provide extraordinary interdisciplinary data. A stone-walled, oval-shaped elite building with compacted earthen floors, post-holes, and artifact-ecofact assemblages (decorated pottery, spindle whorls, deer fauna, and stone monoliths) was revealed near El Infiernito. Soil survey along the Rio Leyva produced evidence for major erosion...

  • Creating an Interdisciplinary Map of Social and Environmental Change through Topography and Bioarchaeology (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marc Wolf. Katherine Miller Wolf.

    Societal change does not occur in a vacuum and marks the social and physical landscape in a myriad of ways. The natural world—the lived in landscape—is the most pervasive and enduring reminder and example of social order. Water is a staple of both domestic and ritual life and leaves its mark in architectural and biological manifestations of society. Mountains, caves, and ravines and other landscape monuments are emblematic of regional geology and influence the local human population both at the...

  • Did restructuring at the end of the Maya Classic period include the beginnings of private land tenure? (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Guderjan.

    The archaeological study of land tenure in non-literate societies is methodologically complex. However, by examining situations before, during and after transitions, insight can be gained. The end of the Maya Classic period, complexes of field walls were built, especially in coastal locations. These appear to not have water control or land management functions but instead delineate space similarly to house lots in contemporary, but traditional, Maya villages. Land tenure at the center of Blue...

  • Late Classic to Terminal Classic Maya Transitions: Modeling from NW Belize (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Angelina Locker. Fred Valdez, Jr..

    The Late Classic (AD 600-800) to Terminal Classic (AD 800-900) of NW Belize reveals a change in material culture, settlements, and social-political manifestations. Detailed here are some of the changes observed for the transition from the Late Classic to the Terminal Classic. Changes in material culture are described as are apparent choices in settlement locales between the two temporal phases. The interplay between material culture, settlements, and social-political organization are posited...

  • Life is Bittersweet: The Rise and Fall of the Sugarcane and Rum Industry in the Nineteenth Century (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Mathews. John Gust.

    The Nineteenth Century in the Yucatán Peninsula was a period of major transition. Amidst the backdrop of colonialism, slavery, indentured servitude, and an indigenous revolt during the Caste War (1847-1901), foreign and local residents of the remote region of northern Quintana Roo engaged in small-scale commodity industries such as sugarcane farming and rum making. While workers dealt with harsh and dangerous conditions, they also had access to an unusual array of cosmopolitan luxury goods...

  • Maya Health Though Time in Northwestern Belize (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Hannah Plumer.

    This presentation will examine paleopathology among the ancient Maya through the analysis of the skeletal remains from three different medium Maya sites in northwestern Belize. Osteological health indicators such as trauma, porotic hyperostosis, cribra orbitalia, osteoarthritis, and various dental health issues will be assessed both within and between the three sites. The sites to be discussed are Blue Creek, Nojol Nah, and Xnoha all of which are located along the Bravo Escarpment in...

  • Romanizing Production: A study of Castro Ceramics before and after Roman Imperial Expansion in Northwestern Portugal (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth De Marigny.

    The Civitatis of Bagunte is a fortified hilltop settlement inhabited by the Castro Culture people from the late Bronze Age to the Roman period. Ceramic artifacts from the Iron Age and Roman periods have dominated the assemblages found at Bagunte over the last five excavation seasons. My graduate research focuses on a question of broad implications for economic anthropology and social archaeology: How does colonization affect patterns of indigenous production before and after imperial expansion,...

  • Subsistence ecology in the making of the Shang state, Eastern China (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jinok Lee.

    This study examines the transition of subsistence practices in early Bronze Age sites in eastern China, when the region was integrated into the Shang state in the second millennium BC. Through a combination of geomorphological and archaeobotanical analyses, I reconstruct the long-term environmental history as well as land-use practices at the Yueshi cultural sites, to explore a variety of responses and adaptations that would have been developed before and after the Shang expansion into the area....

  • To the Four Winds – Identities and Destinies on New Spain’s Far Northern Frontier: the Piro and Tiwa Provinces of New Mexico, c. 1540-1740. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Bletzer.

    The roughly 200 years from the Coronado expedition to the reoccupation of the Tiwa pueblo of Sandia (Na-fiat, Tuf Shur Tia) in the 1740s brought unprecedented challenges on two of the largest Puebloan groups, the southern Tiwas and their neighbors, the Piros. Although impact from Spanish encounters and other stressors varied, Piro and Tiwa pueblos were dramatically reduced in number at the time of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Decades after the Revolt, the Tiwa pueblos of Isleta (Tue-I) and Sandia...

  • Understanding Environmental Thresholds through Geoarchaeology: Case Studies from the Maya Lowlands (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Samantha Krause. Timothy Beach. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach. Thomas Guderjan.

    All depositional environments can leave complex records of environmental change over time. We consider floodplains, alluvial fans, and wetlands of the Maya lowlands at present day Neundorf, Belize. We have documented a rich history of sedimentation, water chemistry, and archaeological data that show a measurable environmental and archaeological signature that date back over 4,000 years in this region. This research uses soil geomorphology to study the chronology and processes of wetland...