An Empirical Analysis of Highland-Lowland Interaction in the Aztatlán Tradition

Author(s): Daniel Pierce

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Aztatlán tradition constituted the primary economic and cultural development during the Early/Middle Postclassic (AD 900-1350) in west Mexico. Though politically decentralized, this culture was rooted on the Pacific coastal plain and featured vast trade networks. Located 100 km inland, the Etzatlán Basin is the westernmost lake basin in the Jalisco altiplano. This area likely played a critical role in the movement of goods throughout the Aztatlán network, despite being peripheral to the cultural core. Through these mercantile relationships, the transmission of Aztatlán cultural concepts likely overlapped with existing local traditions, thus creating cultural affinity while retaining a measure of sociopolitical and economic autonomy. Most Aztatlán scholarship has focused on the characterization of Aztatlán culture, yet the specifics of regional interactions have rarely been empirically addressed. In this study, geochemical analyses reveal that Etzatlán-area obsidian was a key lithic resource in coastal economies. Geospatial analyses also indicate that the most cost efficient pathways from the coast to central Mexico align with multiple Etzatlán sites. Even within the Etzatlán Basin, differential access to these networks is evident in obsidian production and usage patterns between sites. These results demonstrate the importance of obsidian networks in the expansion of the Aztatlán culture.

Cite this Record

An Empirical Analysis of Highland-Lowland Interaction in the Aztatlán Tradition. Daniel Pierce. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449283)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.117; min lat: 16.468 ; max long: -100.173; max lat: 23.685 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23474