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Volcanic Glass and Iron Nails: Shifting Networks of Exchange at Postclassic and Colonial Achiutla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Author(s): Jamie Forde

Year: 2016

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In this paper I present data from recent excavations at the highland Mixtec site of Achiutla, Oaxaca, Mexico, to shed light on how indigenous residents there negotiated changes and continuities in exchange relationships from the Postclassic (AD 900-1521) to Early Colonial (AD 1521-1650) periods. Various lines of evidence demonstrate that Achiutla had significant economic ties to both the Basin of Mexico and the Oaxaca coast, and that the site was an important locus along trade routes between the two regions. The site may not only have attracted travellers due to its geographic location, but also through its status as a center of pre-Hispanic religious pilgrimage.

Ethnohistorical data indicate that residents of Achiutla acquired significant quantities of goods from the coastal lowlands, while excavations have revealed the presence of a large obsidian workshop there, primarily utilizing material imported from Pachuca. I argue that Achiutla utilized its geographic position and political ties to play an important intermediary role in facilitating highland and lowland exchange. Further, this continued into the Colonial period despite historical rupture, as data from domestic middens show that natives continued to acquire and manufacture Pachuca obsidian, despite also having access to metal cutting tools introduced by the Spanish.

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Volcanic Glass and Iron Nails: Shifting Networks of Exchange at Postclassic and Colonial Achiutla, Oaxaca, Mexico. Jamie Forde. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404124)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America