The Transition to Home Living in Middle America

Author(s): John Clark

Year: 2015


In Middle America the transition from the Archaic to Early Formative period (ca. 2000-1400 BC) was marked by the first use of pottery and the construction of durable dwelling clustered in small hamlets or villages. These markers of year-round dwelling in one place represent a major transition in Early Formative times to neolithic lifeways and presumably lifeworlds. I review the evidence of the earliest houses known from highland and lowland regions of Middle America, with an emphasis on the Pacific coastal lowlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The evidence of Late Archaic dwellings is extremely sparse for all of Middle America, so the full nature of the transition in domestic architecture and structures cannot be reconstructed. One is left mostly to conjecture based on the earliest structures built in the Early Formative period. I review the evidence of early domestic structures known for proto-Mesoamerica here and speculate on how the transition from living in caves or ephemeral shelters to durable houses may have been experienced. At a minimum, the transition must have involved a shift from living in sheltered areas to dwelling in one’s own home.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

The Transition to Home Living in Middle America. John Clark. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395489)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;