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Blue-green stone mosaics in the U. S. Southwest and Northwestern Mexico: origins, spatio-temporal distribution and potential meanings

Author(s): Lindsay Shepard ; Christopher Schwartz ; Will Russell ; Robert Weiner ; Ben Nelson

Year: 2017

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Summary

Intricately-crafted mosaics are prevalent among blue-green stone artifacts created in prehispanic Mesoamerica, but are rarer in the prehistoric United States Southwest and Northwestern Mexico (SW/NW). Because they occur earlier in Mesoamerica and are the most Mesoamerican-like of the SW/NW blue-green stone creations, we propose that the production and use of these artifacts in the SW/NW was derived from Mesoamerica. We describe the degree to which mosaics manufactured in the SW/NW resemble and differ from those crafted in Mesoamerica. Using examples from Chaco Canyon, the Mimbres region, and Paquimé, we discuss how the mosaics are revealing of Mesoamerican-like practices and adapted for use in distinctly SW/NW ways. Their rareness and this association with distant places imply high value and restricted access. Thus, mosaics seem likely to be associated with architecture of power. This distributional hypothesis is tested through analysis of the spatiotemporal distribution of blue-green stone mosaics in the Hohokam region. Finally, we discuss the implied uses and meanings of mosaics in the SW/NW based on both their depositional contexts in powerful ritual structures and ethnographic analogy. We propose that the mosaics, rich with ideological associations related to their blue-green color, embodied the concentration of ritual power derived from distant sources.


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Blue-green stone mosaics in the U. S. Southwest and Northwestern Mexico: origins, spatio-temporal distribution and potential meanings. Lindsay Shepard, Christopher Schwartz, Will Russell, Robert Weiner, Ben Nelson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431412)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14732

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