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Ancient Middle America

Spring 2019 Calendar

 map: topographic
  map: Mesoamerica and Its Cultural Areas
 Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica

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class slides on-line
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Ancient Middle America Course Information

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Thursday, 13-Jun-2024 19:19:43 GMT


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    Spatial Divisions(4)

    (2) locality

      • is the archaeological parallel of a single community

        • Tepeapulco

      • slightly larger spatial unit than the site

      • varies in size from a single site to a district of uncertain dimensions

        • but is generally not larger than the space that might be occupied by a single community or local group

      • strictly is a geographical space small enough to permit the working assumption of complete cultural homogeneity at any given time

    (3) region (map)

    • "a considerably larger unity of geographical space usually determined by the vagaries of archaeological history"

    • environmental considerations are important

    (4) area

    • Mesoamerica

    • Other American "Areas"

      • Southwest (U.S.A.)
      • Southeast (U.S.A.)
      • Amazonia
      • Chibcha (Circum-Caribbean)
      • Andean (Peru)

    • natural environments and cultural regions of Mesoamerica


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    Temporal Series (2)

    (2) regional sequence [region]

      • not merely a local sequence with larger spatial dimensions

        • the Central Highland Valley of Mexico

      • regional sequence would correlate the above local sequences

        • regional sequences are the result of correlating the local sequences, not combining them

      • asks questions of wider relationships


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    Integrative Units (3)

      • deal with the problem of large-scale integration

      (1) tradition

      • is a primarily temporal continuity represented by persistent configurations in single technologies or other systems of related form

      • stable geographical boundaries are implies

      • in sum, the tradition gives depth, while the horizon gives breadth

      (2) horizon

      • a primarily spatial continuity represented by cultural traits and assemblages whose nature and lode of occurrence permit the assumption of broad and rapid spread

      • the archaeologically unites linked by a horizon are assumed to be approximately contemporaneous

      • in sum, the horizon gives breadth, while the tradition gived depth

      • "horizon style"

        • occupies a great deal of space but little time
        • may roughly be defined as a specialized cultural continuum represented by the wide distribution of a recognizatble art style

      (3) climax

        • not often used, but includes the type or types of maximum intensity and individuality of an archaeological horizon or tradition

          • is necessarily a value judgment, but only in terms of the horizon or tradition involved

          • in whole cultural terms the climax becomes the phase or phases of maximum intensity and individuality of a culture or civilization


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    Basic Archaeological Units (2)

      • "form" or "content" units

      • i.e., the element of content is more important in their formulation than the spatial and temporal dimensions

      After Willey and Phillips, 1958.

      (1) phase

      • basic archaeological unit

      • the approximate equivalent of "focus"

      • the practical and intelligible unit of archaeology

      • "a cultural complex possessing traits sufficiently characteristic to distinguish it for purposed of preliminary archaeological classifications, from earlier and later manifestations of the cultural development of which it formed a part, and from other contemporaneous complexes" (Kidder)

      • "An archaeological unit possessing traits sufficiently characteristic to distinguish it from all other units similarly conceived, whether of the same or other cultures or civilizations, spatially limited to the order of magnitude of a locality or region and chronologically limited to a relatively brief interval of  time"  (Willey and Phillips)

      • is not a standard unit with reference to space and time

        • depends on the site
        • has no scale independent of the cultural situation in which it is applied
        • may be considered even if one does not know what comes before or after

      • the phase most often appears as one ember of a series that is generally referred to"local" or "regional sequence" in temporal series

      (2) component

      • the manifestation of a given archaeological "focus" at a specific site


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    • how things develop or change over time

    • a series of occurrences and events that produce change or development

    • "How did X get to be this way?"

      • examples

        • domestication of maize
        • rise and fall of civilizations and/or parts thereof
        • the "agricultural revolution"
        • the development of a market economy
        • the invention of pottery and advanced ceramic techniques and technologies



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Stages handout thumbnail.

Mesoamerican Stages (Periods)
stages class handout

(read from bottom to top)

V. Spanish Conquest  
IV. (slides)
III. Classic (slides)
II. Mesoamerica Identifies Itself
slides: Introduction, Early, Middle, Late
I. "Hunting / Gathering"

(map) (slides: Tepexpan.ppt)
(handout) (map) (slides: Tehuacan.ppt)
(map) (slides: Cuello.ppt)
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