Embedded Rituals: Examining Caching Practices in Public Buildings at Cerro de la Virgen, Oaxaca, Mexico

Author(s): Arthur Joyce; Jeffrey Brzezinski; Sarah Barber

Year: 2015


Examining the construction and use of public spaces in precolumbian Mesoamerica has been productive in revealing the ways in which people constituted local communities. As settings for activities such as feasting, cemetery burial, and caching ceremonies, public buildings brought together living people, ancestors, divinities and religious objects through practices that reproduced local histories and identities. Recent research on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, Mexico has focused on the public, ceremonial precincts of several sites in the lower Río Verde Valley, where a complex polity emerged during the Terminal Formative period (150 B.C. – A.D. 250). In this paper, we examine variation in caching practices between two adjacent public building complexes at Cerro de la Virgen, a secondary political center in the region’s hinterland. Excavations in a restricted public building exposed a bundled cache of elaborately carved stone objects as well as 75 ceramic vessels interred in successive layers of construction fill. In an adjacent, more accessible complex, people placed 260 ceramic vessels in stone slab compartments beneath the surface of a patio. We argue that the contrast between the ritual assemblages indexes the social negotiations that occurred between people of varying status positions at the end of the Formative period.

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Embedded Rituals: Examining Caching Practices in Public Buildings at Cerro de la Virgen, Oaxaca, Mexico. Jeffrey Brzezinski, Arthur Joyce, Sarah Barber. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397790)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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