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Flames, Ash, and Charcoal: Paleoethnobotanical Approaches to Understanding the Role of Fire in Postclassic Tarascan Ritual Practices

Author(s): Michelle Elliott ; Grégory Pereira ; Mélaine Stevanato

Year: 2017

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Summary

Although ethnohistoric sources provide many interesting clues regarding the importance of fire in Postclassic Tarascan rituals, these practices are still not well characterized by archaeologists. We know that fire was omnipresent in Tarascan society, not just for ordinary, daily needs (heating, cooking, light, etc.), but also in a seemingly diverse variety of ritual practice that ranged from the public cremation ceremonies of deceased rulers to more humble household rituals carried out on a frequent basis. Paleoethnobotanical methods seem to provide an essential approach for reconstructing these acts that cross-cut the social hierarchy, as well as the spheres of private and public space. This paper presents an ongoing project that focuses on charcoal remains, hearths, and other loci of combustion in a variety of contexts at the site of Malpais Prieto, in the Zacapu Basin of northern Michoacán. Our objectives are to characterize systematically the range of fire-related ritual practices that occurred at the site and to determine how these varied among the different social strata, and in public vs. private contexts. We also investigate what types of wood resources were necessary for these practices, and the system(s) that were developed to obtain and manage them.


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Cite this Record

Flames, Ash, and Charcoal: Paleoethnobotanical Approaches to Understanding the Role of Fire in Postclassic Tarascan Ritual Practices. Michelle Elliott, Grégory Pereira, Mélaine Stevanato. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430046)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16738

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