Copper Back Mirrors (Tezcacuitlapilli) as Objects of Political and Religious Authority in the Casas Grandes World (A.D. 1200-1450)

Author(s): Michael Mathiowetz

Year: 2015


The rise of the Casas Grandes culture (AD 1200-1450) in Chihuahua, Mexico and the adoption of a new religion centered upon the Mesoamerican solar deity Xochipilli prefigured many of the social transformations that occurred among Pueblo cultures across the American Southwest by the fourteenth century. The appearance of new architecture of clear Mesoamerican derivation (e.g., I-shaped ballcourts) and imported finished objects of shell and copper in the Casas Grandes world indicates heightened connections to West Mexico during this era. Among those imported items at Casas Grandes sites are complete and fragmentary tezcacuitlapilli—portable cold-hammered copper ornaments closely linked to the sun that were worn at the small of the back. Politics and religion intersect in these objects and their use in Mesoamerica provides a context for scholars to understand why these items appear in the archaeological record of far northern Mexico. This paper considers the role of the Postclassic West Mexican Aztatlán culture (A.D. 900-1350) in the rise of Paquimé and examines the use of West Mexican-derived objects of political and religious authority for Casas Grandes office-holders within the context of a Mesoamerican-inspired hierarchical social-religious organization.

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Cite this Record

Copper Back Mirrors (Tezcacuitlapilli) as Objects of Political and Religious Authority in the Casas Grandes World (A.D. 1200-1450). Michael Mathiowetz. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396246)


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Spatial Coverage

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