Sunday, September 18, 2011

Project Workshop

Workshop, group photo (by Ryan S.)
Last week we had an informal workshop on the project in my lab at ASU. Emily Umberger came up from Tucson, Maelle Sergheraert attended (it was during the final days of her Postdoc year in my lab), and Brad Andrews came down from Pacific Lutheran University. Angela and Julie and Cindy were here, along with two undergrads: Mary Bowles and Ryan Smigielski. Barbara Stark and George Cowgill showed up—one in the morning and the other in the afternoon—to keep us in line.

Brad and Angela
Brad talked about his work on the obsidian industry. Why were they using bipolar technology, when most archaeologists thought it had gone out of fashion a thousand years earlier? See his blog post for the gory details. Angela reviewed her dissertation plans for investigating the effects of Mexica conquest on the households of Calixtlahuaca. She had just passed her proposal defense the day before, so her research design was really in order! She's back in the lab in Toluca now, working on those sherds.

Julie reviewed her current work, trying to relate the the surface collection data to neighborhood organization  and to wealth levels. I talked a bit about the overall project, including the various analyses not represented at the workshop. Anyone out there interested in ground stone? We've got a nice collection just waiting for the right person!

Jennifer and Maelle
It was great having Maelle as a postdoc in my lab for the past year; she has been working on the altepetl in Aztec central Mexico. At the workshop, she summarized her SAA paper from last spring on the civic architecture at the site. She has evidence for four architecture stages at the site, and we have three ceramic phases. We are pretty sure that the last period in each sequence lines up, but for the earlier stages we still await more chronological research.

Emily Umberger's student Jennifer Burley talked about two things: the group of sculptures that we recovered in our excavations, and her MA thesis research on Ehecatl. Jennifer worked with us in the lab in Toluca for a while this past summer, helping us out in several ways. Emily talked about Aztec notions of sacred mountains, exploring why the Mexica may have taken such a great interest in Calixtlahuaca. She did NOT talk about cosmovision!

Emily and George
Barbara Stark was with us most of the time, providing some good comments, and George Cowgill joined us in time for pizza and the afternoon session. Cindy also participated in the discussion. Two ASU undergrads attended. Mary Bowles is working on a paper comparing Calixtlahuaca to other hilltop capital cities in Mesoamerica, and Ryan Smigielski is a new volunteer with the project.

We did not succeed in putting the two big parts of the project together--our fieldwork in 2006/07 on houses and terraces, and the study of Garcia Payon's findings of sculpture and civic architecture. One thing we agreed on was the  need to get the ethnohistory onto a firmer footing so that we really know all that the sources say about topics like the Aztec conquest of Matlatzinco, the names of the rulers of the site, and the overall political, social, and religious context of Calixtlhauca and the Toluca Valley. So this week we put new volunteer Theresa Araque to work on this!

We will have a big symposium on the project at the 2013 SAA meetings (in Honolulu!!!). Stay tuned.....