Consuming in Empire: The Materiality of Household Consumption at Postclassic and Colonial Xaltocan, Mexico

Author(s): Lisa Overholtzer

Year: 2015


Consumption, as Paul Mullins explains, "revolves around the acquisition of things to confirm, display, accent, mask, and imagine who we are and who we wish to be." Consumer choices of goods in the marketplace relate to the desire to connect oneself with particular networks of people and places on the landscape, and these connections play a role in the formation of personal and household identity. Here, I present research on the social dimensions inherent in economic practices, which are notably absent in many existing models of central Mexican economies. Specifically, I use instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) to reconstruct diachronic shifts in the interpersonal relationships formed through the exchange process in one household at the site of Xaltocan. INAA offers evidence of the provenance of 209 decorated serving vessels (Aztec Black on Orange and redwares) recovered in five stratified, firmly dated household middens and reflects changes in the consumption practices of a single household over four centuries, including the rise of the Otomí state centered at Xaltocan, the formation of the Aztec empire, and the arrival of the Spanish. These findings are contextualized via comparison to previous findings for site-wide trends in ceramic consumption.

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Cite this Record

Consuming in Empire: The Materiality of Household Consumption at Postclassic and Colonial Xaltocan, Mexico. Lisa Overholtzer. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397203)


Spatial Coverage

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