Figurines and Farmagers

Author(s): James Heidke

Year: 2015


Two temporally-sensitive fired clay figurine styles were identified among the 282 fragments recovered from the Early Agricultural period archaeological site known as Las Capas, located in Tucson, Arizona. The earlier style was only recovered from the 1220-1000 B.C. stratum, while the later style was just recovered from the 930-730 B.C. strata. Virtually all fragments were found in domestic trash deposits. Previous interpretations of similar figurines relied on the assumption that they represent anthropomorphic beings and were used in practices or ceremonies related to ancestor veneration. However, the cross-cultural approach that led to that conclusion is insufficiently sensitive to the historical specifics of Early Agricultural period figurine use. Figurine manufacture began at the time when people started growing some of their food while continuing to hunt and gather the rest. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that predominantly male, Uto-Aztecan-speaking migrants brought maize farming to the Sonoran Desert. The evidence from Las Capas suggests that they also introduced a ceremonial complex involving maize symbolism, that botanomorphic human or anthropomorphic plant figurines/effigies were an essential part of that symbolism, and that those objects played an important role in reciprocal obligations between human and non-human beings that would have led to successful harvests.

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Cite this Record

Figurines and Farmagers. James Heidke. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396947)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;