[Home] [Current Tables of Contents]

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]


Volume 53 / Social Sciences

ANTHROPOLOGY: ARCHAEOLOGY


Mesoamerica

BARBARA L. STARK, Professor of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe
JOHN HERNDERSON
, Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University

OFTEN ONE CAN DETECT "critical mass" effects in research, when a sufficient number of investigators and new discoveries ignite an outpouring of ideas and publications. Investigations at Teotihuacan have taken on this character following a series of recent projects, especially at the Ciudadela (items bi 93013670, bi 93013665, bi 93020424, and bi 93011491). Other investigations have addressed irrigation evidence and domestic remains at the city (items bi 93013508, bi 93013269, bi 93013644, bi 91019257, bi 93013732, bi 91020723, and bi 93013196). Newly available wall murals are a strong element in a variety of art historical and interpretive studies (items bi 90013543, bi 93012601, bi 93012803, bi 91001037, bi 91024537, and bi 91001000). Trade (items bi 93013271, bi 93012140, bi 93010037, and bi 93010042), ceramic descriptions (item bi 93013484), development in the Classic period generally (item bi 93010984), and Teotihuacan's aftermath (item bi 90013537) add to the range of topics. Finally, Matos (item bi 91020666) provides a popularized synthesis.

A surge in publications concerning Gulf coast archaeology in Veracruz indicates that the region is beginning to receive the research attention that it warrants. A continuing restoration project at El Tajín has spurred several papers (items bi 93011461, bi 93011785, bi 93013268, and bi 93011713). The Mixtequilla area has been the focus of a continuing research project (items bi 92006873, bi 93010042, and bi 91021765). Other investigations are diverse, as some concern central Veracruz (items bi 91020684, bi 93013343, bi 93010888, and bi 93010888), Preclassic sites or artifacts (items bi 93013208 and bi 93013207), the Tuxtlas area (items bi 91005169 and bi 93013344), Huaxtecs (item bi 93013716), and early writing (items bi 93011373).
Recent publications on Tula are particularly important in view of the often divergent interpretations of the role of this city in Mesoamerica (items bi 91020682, bi 90013539, bi 93013210, bi 93013211, and bi 93011746). Other especially important volumes treat Xochicalco (items bi 93012767), Cholula (item bi 93013203), the final results of the Valley of Oaxaca survey (item bi 93012867), and an ethnoarchaeological study of maguey production (item bi 93013211).

Investigations of Maya hieroglyphic writing and iconography represent another area in which there is a continuing avalanche of new work (items bi 92006880, bi 93001043, bi 93001348, bi91-999, bi 93001053, bi 93001372, bi 93001382, bi 92006885, bi 93001462, bi 93001461, bi 91026810, bi 93001466, bi 91013813, bi 93001469, bi 93001474, bi 93010178, and bi 93010181). Inscriptions of the great lowland cities of the Classic period - especially their bearing on dynastic history and on the nature of the political order - is a particular focus in the field (items bi 93001315, bi 92006887, bi 93001383, bi 93001386, bi 93001433, bi 92006891, bi 91013814, bi 91013814, bi 92006879, bi 93001462, bi 93001432, bi 92010967 and bi 93001468).

An important related trend is the incorporation of epigraphic and iconographic perspective into the research designs of major archaeological excavation projects in the Maya lowlands. Analysis of iconography and hieroglyphic texts has long been central to investigations at Copán, and many of these studies are now reaching the publication stage (items bi 93010884, bi 91001022, bi 93012604, bi 93012326, bi 91007805, bi 93012365, bi 93013810, bi 93013021, bi 93013443, bi 93013444, and bi 93013762).

Settlement archaeology and demographic analysis continue to be a major focus of Maya field research and analysis (items bi 93010976, bi 93010989, bi 92011036, bi 93011481, bi 93011496, bi 92006882, bi 91000752, bi 91001026, bi 93013175, bi 93012116, bi 93012418, bi 93012366, bi 92002385, bi 93012864, bi 93012866, bi 92006889, bi 93013333, bi 91019261, bi 92010967, bi 93013700, bi 90009158, and bi 93013762). Lithic studies focusing on Maya data have begun to appear at an accelerating pace. They include functional and ethnoarchaeological analyses (items bi 93001540, bi 93001541, bi 93013028, and bi 93013141) and theoretically oriented interpretations (items bi 93013126 and bi 93013128), as well as the more traditional typological (items bi 93011743, bi 93013371, bi 93013086, and bi 93013200) and chemical characterization studies (items bi 93010515, bi 93012636, bi 93012855, bi 91019260, and bi 93013451).

In geographic terms, Belize continues to be a particular focus of field investigations (items bi 93012585, bi 93012418, bi 93012599, bi 93012626, bi 93012636, bi 93012634, bi 92002385, bi 92006872, bi 93012651, bi 93012737, bi 93012736, bi 93012681, bi 93012747, bi 93012855, bi 93013069, bi 91013812, bi 93013028, bi 93013126, bi 93013128, bi 93013215, bi 93013304, bi 93013371, and bi 93013768). Reports from other major excavation projects in the Maya lowlands include: Seibal (items bi 92006871 and bi 93013700); Tikal (items bi 93011750 and bi 90009158); Uaxactún (item bi 90011116); Río Azul (item bi 93001538); Sayil (items bi 93012866 and bi 93013333); and Oxkintok (item bi 92009853).
Several parts of the Maya world that have not been as intensively investigated as the "core" lowlands have finally begun to attract more archaeological attention. Several new projects have been undertaken in recent years along the western edge of the southern lowlands in eastern Chiapas (items bi 93011743, bi 91000752, bi 91001026, bi 93013175, bi 93012804, and bi 93013303). In part this reflects the increasing ease of access accompanying development of the region. Detailed reports and analyses are also now appearing on recent field projects undertaken on the other edge of the Maya world along the southeastern edge of Mesoamerica (items bi 93012116, bi 93012432, bi 93010540, bi 91019322, bi 93012864, bi 93012854, bi 93013348, and bi 93013763). Several new projects have begun to rectify the relative dearth of detailed information on the prehistory of the Maya highlands, especially the northern highlands of Guatemala (items bi 93010972, bi 91004283, bi 93011481, bi 93009777, bi 92009851, bi 93000705, bi 91006330, bi 93012614, bi 91001013, bi 92008579, bi 90009824, bi 93012804, and bi 92006874). The adjacent Pacific coastal area has also attracted more work, and its cultural history is beginning to be better documented in the literature (items bi 91001001, bi 93013200, bi 93013760, and bi 91001023).

The growing sophistication of Mesoamerican studies has increased the number of contributions that can be said to address the instruments and techniques of statecraft (items bi 91020727, bi 93020424, bi 93013254, bi 93010541, bi 93012326, bi 93000705, bi 91006330, and bi 91013814). In addition, investigators are more explicitly seeking to distinguish imperial administration from other forms of interaction (items bi 92006873, bi 93010042, bi 93013776, and bi 90013541) and to examine the mechanisms and aims of the economic systems of early states (items bi 91013810 and bi 93012140).
The burgeoning of Mesoamerican data under the impetus of research through INAH's centros regionales poses a considerable challenge to synthesize and interpret. Current research notices (items bi 93012761, bi 93011418, and bi 93012762) provide some indication of the problem, as does the growing number of bibliographic entries here. One response to new information is the appearance of synthetic overviews of the archaeology of particular Mexican states and regions (items bi 93013238, bi 91020724, bi 91020731, bi 91020674, bi 90009824, and bi 91000996). Another is surveys of the history of anthropological research in Mesoamerica including archaeology (items bi 93010661, bi 93012588, bi 92009844, bi 91028085, bi 91001006, bi 91021849, bi 91001060, bi 93000976, bi 89003965, bi 92006892, bi 91001001, bi 92006894, and bi 93001467).
New texts and more popular introductions to Mesoamerica also help update the picture (items bi 91020668, bi 92006881, and bi 91001060). A compilation and republication of scattered, hard-to-get publications on rock art (item bi 91020713) is an example of the kinds of resources that often are lacking.

We regret that limitations of space do not permit separate annotations of many individual chapters published in edited volumes and that not all relevant publications are available to us. We are grateful to Virginia Betz who assisted Barbara Stark; annotations by Betz are identified by her initials.


Go to the:


Begin a Basic Search | Begin an Expert Search

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]


Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian (12/29/04)