Establishing the nature and scale of ritual behavior at La Quemada, Zacatecas, Mexico

Author(s): Andrea Torvinen

Year: 2017


The northern frontier region of Mesoamerica is partially defined by its ceramic traditions (i.e., red-on-buff, incised-engraved, and resist); however, observed variation in the types belonging to decorated wares suggests these types are likely local materializations of a regional ideology. Testing this hypothesis requires first determining the provenance of decorated ceramics recovered from a northern frontier site and then exploring the intrasite distribution of local and nonlocal ceramics through the lens of different social mechanisms. The case study for this project is La Quemada in Zacatecas, Mexico, which was the focus of the Malpaso Valley polity during the Epiclassic period (A.D. 500-900). La Quemada lacks evidence supporting the existence of an elite class or marketplace, but does possess traits associated with pilgrimage centers. Therefore, this paper uses an ethnographic model of prehispanic ritual practice based on northern frontier descendant communities (i.e., the Huichol and Cora) to evaluate if ritual ideology was the mechanism responsible for regional ceramic traditions. The conclusions of this research will establish the nature and scale of ritual behavior that may have occurred in northern frontier centers (e.g., La Quemada, Alta Vista, and Cerro Moctehuma), as well as the impact of this behavior on intraregional social networks.

Cite this Record

Establishing the nature and scale of ritual behavior at La Quemada, Zacatecas, Mexico. Andrea Torvinen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 432125)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16711