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In the Land of the Sky: Recent Interdisciplinary Archaeological Research in the Lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

This session presents results of the last decade of interdisciplinary archaeological research in the lower Río Verde Valley on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. Archaeological research during this period has focused on the Formative period, although ongoing settlement pattern studies, paleoecological research, and human dietary studies have implications for the entire prehispanic sequence. Major research problems that are discussed include the origins of agriculture and sedentism during the initial Early Formative period; the relationship between religion and politics at the end of the Formative; urbanization and political centralization; the aftermath of political collapse; and the impact of Formative Period environmental change on settlement, land use, and diet. Data presented in the session are the result of large-scale excavations at the Early Formative period site of La Consentida, the Terminal Formative urban center of Río Viejo, the Terminal Formative outlying sites of Cerro de la Virgen and Loma Don Genaro, and the Early Classic period site of Charco Redondo. Papers also present paleoecological research based on sediment cores extracted from ponds and estuaries, isotopic studies of human and animal bone, geoarchaeological research on soil fertility, regional full-coverage survey, archaeozoology, and studies of artifacts from the region.


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  • Documents (13)

Documents

  • Agricultural Productivity of Four Different Physiographic Zones in the Lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico: Using the Current Landscape as a Means to Facilitate an Understanding of Past Productivity (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431056] Raymond Mueller. Jessica Hedgepeth Balkin. Arthur Joyce.

    As part of the larger Río Verde Settlement Project (RVSP), soil sampling of different physiographic zones was conducted during the spring of 2016 in the lower Río Verde Valley. The major goal of this sampling program was to assess variation in soil fertility across the region, as related specifically to maize agriculture. The lower Verde Valley was broadly divided into four physiographic zones (floodplain, coastal plain, piedmont, and secondary valleys). Previous studies identified the...

  • A Contextual and Iconographic Analysis of Precolumbian Stamps from the Lower Rio Verde Valley (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431062] Elizabeth Peabody. Sarah Barber.

    Known as estampias, pintaderas, or sellos, ceramic stamps are known from Precolumbian sites throughout Mexico although very little research has been done on this group of artifacts. Previously published examples depict a wide range of iconographic themes, including geometric, floral, and faunal designs. This paper presents an analysis of 19 ceramic stamps recovered from excavations in the lower Río Verde valley. This group of artifacts spans nearly the entire Precolumbian period, from the Late...

  • Diet and Migration in Coastal Oaxaca: Identifying Effects of Political and Social Collapse through the Utilization of Stable Isotope Analysis (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431063] Jacklyn Rumberger. Sarah Barber. Arthur Joyce. Tosha Dupras. Stacie King.

    This study reports on diet and mobility among people living in the lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico, during the Late Classic (AD 500-800) and Early Postclassic (AD 800-1200) periods, specifically focusing on how political and social collapse affected subsistence practices, diet, and human migration. Archaeological evidence suggests that Río Viejo, the region’s largest urban center before AD 800, experienced multiple periods of political fragmentation and instability during its long...

  • Examining Rural Responses to Political Collapse: The Early Postclassic at Monte El Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431058] Pascale Meehan.

    Recent archaeological research at the site of Monte El Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico examines how the rural community of Monte El Santo responded to the political collapse of the Río Viejo polity during the Early Postclassic Period (800-1100 CE). The collapse ushered in important changes for the coastal inhabitants of the Lower Río Verde Valley- the site of Río Viejo experienced a sharp decline in population, and a newly formed population center at San Marquitos grew to rival Río Viejo in size. While...

  • Flora, Ethnoecology, and Foodways in the Land of the Sky (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431067] Shanti Morell-Hart.

    Analysis of botanical residues recovered from the Río Verde Valley has yielded a wealth of information about activities of ancient inhabitants. Data from this paper were derived from large-scale excavations at the Terminal Formative urban center of Río Viejo, and the Terminal Formative outlying sites of Cerro de la Virgen and Loma Don Genaro. Evidence of agricultural practices as well as the collection of wild and fallow-dwelling plants have been revealed through charred seeds and other...

  • Formative to Postclassic Landuse Changes in the Lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431057] Michelle Goman. Arthur Joyce. Jessica Hedgepeth Balkin.

    We provide a summary of the past ~15 years of paleoecological and paleoenvironmental analysis in the Lower Río Verde Valley. Ten lacustrine, wetland and estuarine sites throughout the valley and coastal zone were selected for sediment coring. The sediments were intensively sampled for a suite of biological and sedimentary analyses chosen to provide insight into changes in local and regional landuse. Our findings indicate initial land clearance and incipient agriculture occurred during the...

  • Landscape and Dietary Change in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431066] Arthur Joyce. Sarah Barber. Guy Hepp. Paul Sandberg. Michelle Butler.

    This paper presents the results of an isotopic study of human dietary change during the Formative period (2000 BCE-300 CE) in the lower Río Verde Valley of Oaxaca. Approximately 60 individuals were sampled for δ13C and δ15N using both teeth and long bones. The study examines trends in the consumption of maize and marine/estuarine resources relative to regional environmental change. Interdisciplinary research along the drainage system indicates that environmental change in the lower Verde was...

  • More Carved Monuments from Rio Viejo and their Historical Implications (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431060] Javier Urcid. Arthur Joyce. Sarah Barber.

    The analysis of a dozen recently documented inscribed monuments from the ancient urban center of Rio Viejo, in the Pacific littoral of Oaxaca, provides new insights regarding the historical and political development of the regional capital in the lower drainage of the Rio Verde.

  • Recent Excavations at Cerro de la Virgen, Oaxaca, Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431064] Jeffrey Brzezinski.

    This paper presents the preliminary results of recent excavations carried out at Cerro de la Virgen, a 92-ha hilltop site located in the lower Río Verde Valley of coastal Oaxaca, Mexico. The lower Verde’s first complex polity emerged during the Terminal Formative period (150 BCE – CE 250), during which Cerro de la Virgen was one of several secondary political centers distributed around the region’s political seat, Río Viejo. Current research at Cerro de la Virgen is designed to study the...

  • Settlement Beyond the Alluvial Plains: Recent Findings from the 2016 Río Verde Settlement Project (RVSP), Coastal Oaxaca, Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431068] Jessica Hedgepeth Balkin. Arthur Joyce. Raymond Mueller.

    From January-June of 2016, an interdisciplinary dissertation study was conducted in the lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico which was designed to investigate how prehispanic settlement patterning was affected by environmental productivity. The Río Verde Settlement Project (RVSP) included a continuation of the regional full-coverage survey as well as a systematic sedimentological sampling program to examine regional variation in soil fertility. This paper focuses on the initial results of the...

  • Shifting Practices: Materiality and Mortuary Ritual at Early Classic Charco Redondo (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431061] Michelle Butler.

    This paper explores the relationships between the people, objects and practices that created an Early Classic communal mortuary space at the site of Charco Redondo in the lower Río Verde Valley of Oaxaca. The Early Classic follows the collapse of the first Rio Viejo polity, and significant differences in mortuary practices may signify a transformation in how power and authority were constituted. While communal internment continued, burials were generally undisturbed by later internments and...

  • The Symbolism, Use, and Archaeological Context of Masks in Formative period Coastal Oaxaca, Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431065] Sarah Barber. Guy Hepp. Jeffrey Brzezinski. Arthur Joyce.

    Mesoamerica has a long tradition of masking, as evidenced by representations of masked individuals, and the masks themselves, extending back to at least the Early Formative period. In the lower Río Verde valley of Oaxaca, evidence for masking exists throughout the Precolumbian sequence, from the earliest villages to Postclassic settlements. This evidence often consists of figurines depicting masked individuals or representations on ceramic vessels and carved stones. Recent excavations have also...

  • Whole Vessel Caches: A Comparison of Offerings at Cerro de la Virgen with lower Río Verde Valley Public Space Offerings (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 431059] Vanessa Monson. Jeffrey Brzezinski.

    Previous archaeological excavations in the lower Río Verde Valley in Oaxaca, Mexico have provided evidence for communal ceremonies since the Late Formative (400-150 BCE). The Terminal Formative (150 BCE-250 CE) period saw a continuation of communal ceremonies at hinterland sites along with the emergence of the region’s first polity, Río Viejo. The maintenance of these practices in the hinterland during the increasing urbanization occurring at Río Viejo suggests their importance in community...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America