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Playing for Power: Ballcourts, Political Negotiation and Community Organization in Postclassic Nejapa, Oaxaca, Mexico

Author(s): Marijke Stoll

Year: 2016

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Summary

In the politically dynamic Postclassic period (AD 1000-1521), multiple ballcourts were built in different communities throughout the Nejapa region of Oaxaca during a time of significant settlement shifts and pressure from expanding Zapotec and Aztec empires. As a specially marked category of public architecture, ballcourts would have distinguished communities from each other while also serving as socially-integrative locations through hosting games and other important ritual activities. Given the dramatic changes in the sociopolitical landscape in Nejapa, and its position as both an important stop on an interregional trade route and a multiethnic boundary zone, successfully negotiating conflict and social integration among and between communities would have been especially important. How ballcourts are distributed within the social landscape is therefore significant –where a ballcourt was emplaced within public space would have expressed not only particular underlying social, political, and symbolic meanings, but also the centrality of the ballgame to political and daily life. This presentation examines where ballcourts are placed within sites and their distribution on the landscape in order to evaluate the role of the ballgame in adjusting to and negotiating a shifting sociopolitical landscape for both local elites and different communities in Nejapa.


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Playing for Power: Ballcourts, Political Negotiation and Community Organization in Postclassic Nejapa, Oaxaca, Mexico. Marijke Stoll. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405346)


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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