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Cultural Processes without Chronology: The Formative to Classic Period Transition (150 BC- AD 200) at the Early Urban Center of Izapa, Chiapas, Mexico

Author(s): Rebecca Mendelsohn

Year: 2016

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Summary

In southern Mesoamerica the transition from the Formative to Classic period (150 BC- AD 200) was a time of population decline, cessation of monumental construction, and abandonment of many sites. At the city of Izapa, located in the Soconusco region of Mexico, evidence for a dramatic shift has been presented for the Hato phase (ca. 150 BC- AD 50). The New World Archaeological Foundation archaeologists, working in the 1960s, noted that an urn burial custom and use of foreign pottery styles arrived at Izapa just as the tradition of low relief monuments came to a close. They cited this data as evidence for a new ethnic or cultural association or domination at the site. This paper provides evidence from recent excavations at Izapa, a re-analysis of early survey collections from the region, and the re-discovery of a nearby center. These data suggest that, while some undeniable changes occurred at the site, Izapa’s transition during the Hato phase was far less dramatic than originally reported. This study illustrates how an improved understanding of ceramic chronology impacts our understanding of major cultural shifts in the region. It serves as a cautionary tale for drawing cultural conclusions before a firm chronology is developed.


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Cultural Processes without Chronology: The Formative to Classic Period Transition (150 BC- AD 200) at the Early Urban Center of Izapa, Chiapas, Mexico. Rebecca Mendelsohn. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404627)


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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