Death and the Origin of Enduring Social Relations

Author(s): Rosemary Joyce

Year: 2017


Knowledge of Formative Period Mesoamerican archaeological sites often comes from narrow windows into buried sites. One feature has been a partial exception to this rule: burials. Groups of Formative Period burials, often accompanied by objects, have been recovered in many parts of Mesoamerica. Using models of mortuary treatment that saw burials as reflecting individual identity, burials provided one of the first ways researchers could examine the emergence of stratification within these settlements. Yet such analyses were open to critiques of the assumption that burial treatment was a simple reflection of social status and identity. In previous research on published burials from Tlatilco, I showed that clusters of burials there were products of social action by people associated with specific residential groups or neighborhoods within the settlement. I was able to demonstrate within-village variation not rising to the level of emergence of firmly delimited social strata but illuminating how stratification emerged, with inter-group distinction, age-related uniformity, and gendered trends evident in women's burials. This paper considers in detail the burial assemblages of males not previously analyzed, refining models that might be applicable more broadly in other Formative villages in the process of creating distinctions in wealth, status, and authority.

Cite this Record

Death and the Origin of Enduring Social Relations. Rosemary Joyce. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431155)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14491