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Crafting, Identity, and Power: A Comparative Analysis of Late Postclassic Facial Adornment Use in Central Mexico

Author(s): Angelica Costa ; Lane Fargher ; Richard Blanton ; Verenice Heredia Espinoza ; John Millhauser

Year: 2017

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In pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, individuals from diverse regions and social classes deployed facial adornments, such as ear spools and lip plugs, to materialize concepts of identity. Specifically, recent archaeological research at the Late Postclassic (AD 1250 to 1521) city of Tlaxcallan provides new insights into the role of facial adornments in a highly collective society. Tracing material sources reveals the inter-workings of regional and local economic interactions and local sociopolitical institutions impeding on distribution. Similarly, various styles of decoration can also reflect the sharing of cultural ideas between different settlements and regions and how Tlaxcaltecans identified within their own communities in relation to status, age, and gender. By looking at the distribution of raw materials, finished goods, and styles, we document the degree to which facial adornments were restricted to certain statuses/classes, genders, and age groups and, thereby, shed light on the social encoding of these items. Such information can then be used to evaluate the interplay between the degree of social embeddedness and degree of collectivity. Thus, facial adornments have the potential to provide information of great significance in revealing how economic and social institutions impeded on the production, distribution, and consumption of facial adornments among states during the Postclassic.

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Crafting, Identity, and Power: A Comparative Analysis of Late Postclassic Facial Adornment Use in Central Mexico. Angelica Costa, Lane Fargher, Richard Blanton, Verenice Heredia Espinoza, John Millhauser. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431143)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15636

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