Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ceramics and chronology

Angela and I are working on ceramic seriation right now. We are using counts of ceramic types to define ceramic phases (time periods), and we will use the results to assign as many of our excavated and surface contexts to a time period. I'll post more details when we have made more progress. But for some time how we have noticed an interesting chronological pattern that is very different from the ceramic situation at the provincial sites I excavated previously in Morelos.

We have noticed a strong association between the three ceramic types pictured here:
  1. comals (tortilla griddles)
  2. Texcoco fabric-marked (salt transport vessels), and 
  3. Aztec III black-on-orange.
In Morelos this correlation does not exist. There, salt vessels and comals ran throughout the sequence (Middle and Late Postclassic periods), whereas Aztec III was only found in the Late Postclassic. Most comals were locally made, and there are lots of them at the Morelos sites. The other two types were imported from the Basin of Mexico (as we showed with chemical analysis).
At Calixtlahuaca, however, the strong correlation among these types suggest that people were not using comals in the Middle Postclassic, and that they were not importing their salt from the Basin of Mexico at that time either. Then in the Late Postclassic, they started importing Aztec III bowls, Texcoco fabric-marked vessels, AND comals. All of our comals resemble closely the Late Postclassic comals from the Basin of Mexico; also, comals are much, much rarer at Calixtlahuaca than in Morelos.

So what does this mean? Until our seriation work is complete I don't want to speculate too much. Howeever these three types suggest very different patterns of trade and interaction between center and provinces than I documented in Morelos. And if they didn't have comals prior to the Late Postclassic, then they weren't eating torillas. Unfortunately we have been unable to identify vessels for steaming tamales, the logical tortilla alternative.

Stay tuned......

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What are we up to?

  1. Adje Both, expert in Aztec and Mesoamerican musical instruments, spent a day looking at our flutes and such. He recorded the sounds of the whole examples. He and I then went to Morelos to look at the material from my excavations there. When he gets back to Germany, he will write up a blog entry on the Calixtlahuaca material, with a link to his recording. These musical instruments are special - we can play them today, and hear the same sounds that the ancient inhabitants of the site heard.
  2. We are slogging through burned daub again, getting ready to throw out the stuff we don't need and save the informative pieces.
  3. Julie is measuring attributes on surface ceramics.
  4. Angela and I are working on the seriation. Stay tuned, this will be hot news when we are done.
  5. I gave a lecture today, a featured speech at an annual convention of Mexican archaeology students (at the archaeology facility of the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México in Tenancingo). Several of the UAEM students worked with us during our excavations. And several visiting students from the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potisí had taken classes with Peter Kroefges, who worked at Calixtlahuaca in 2006.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New articles and papers on Calixtlahuaca

I just posted an article on our 2006 season, the surface survey:

Smith, Michael E., Juliana Novic, Angela Huster and Peter C. Kroefges (2009) Reconocimiento Superficial y Mapeo en Calixtlahuaca. Expresión Antropológica 36:39-55.

Also, there is a link to this at the right, under "Links".

I plan to put this and other papers onto our project website, but I am having trouble editing the html here in Mexico (I don't have my regular editing program, and the one I downloaded is difficult to work with). This is one reason why blogs and wikis, etc., are easier than traditional websites.

We've had some recent papers at meetings.

Huster, Angela (2008) Scraping and Spinning: Maguey Fiber Production at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico. Paper presented at the 2008 Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver.

Novic, Juliana (2008) Reaching the City Limits: Identifying Settlement Boundaries at Calixtlahuaca, Toluca, Mexico. Paper presented at the 2008 Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver.

And there are a couple of papers accepted for publication and now in press:

Smith, Michael E. (2010) Las ciudades prehispánicas: su traza y su dinámica social. In Nueva Historia General del Estado de México, tomo 2, periodo postclásico (IN PRESS), edited by Rosaura Hernández Rodríguez and Raymundo César Martníez García. El Colegio Mexiquense, Toluca.

Tomaszewski, Brian M. and Michael E. Smith (n.d.) Politics, Territory, and Historical Change in Postclassic Matlatzinco (Toluca Valley, central Mexico). Journal of Historical Geography (accepted for publication).

If you need copies of any of these, email the author(s).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A new look

Blogger offers some new design templates, so I am trying one out. In addition to the colors and such, the text frame is now wider.

We are working in the lab at the Colegio Mexiquense now, and should be posting more frequently!

Here is a very low-resolution version of the plan of unit 307, the house that yielded most of the Spaniards with hats.

Let me know if you like or dislike this new format for the blog.