The Beginnings of Mesoamerican Civilization: Inter-Regional Interaction and the Olmec

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Cambridge University Press, 2010 - History - 374 pages
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Mesoamerica is one of a several cradles of civilization in the world. In this book, Robert M. Rosenswig proposes that we understand Early Formative Mesoamerica as an archipelago of complex societies that interacted with one another over long distances and that were separated by less sedentary peoples. These early "islands" of culture shared an Olmec artistic aesthetic, beginning approximately 1250 BCE (uncalibrated), that first defined Mesoamerica as a culture area. Rosenswig frames the Olmec world from the perspective of the Soconusco area on Pacifica Chiapas and Guatemala. The disagreements about Early Formative society that have raged over the past 30 years focus on the nature of inter-regional interaction between San Lorenzo and other Early Formative regions. He evaluates these debates from a fresh theoretical perspective and integrates new data into an assessment of Soconusco society before, during, and after the apogee of the San Lorenzo polity.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Knowledge in an Archipelago of Complexity
13
Gift Exchange and Social Debt
20
Local Cohesion Created through the Production of Gifts
27
An Archipelago of Complexity
34
Summary
45
CONTENTS
71
ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA
103
Effigy Pots and Ceramic Iconography
204
Summary of Changing Aesthetics at Cuauhtémoc
222
SoconuscoGulf Coast Exchange Routes and Travel Time
228
Obsidian Exchange
235
Ceramic Exchange
241
Estuary Sites
249
Data and Expectations
259
Conclusion
291

Diet Food Processing and Feasting
132
Food Preparation at Cuauhtémoc
148
Ground stone form
156
Summary of the Cuauhtémoc Domestic Economy
172
The Color of Ceramics
178
Anthropomorphic Figurines
186
Was San Lorenzo Mesoamericas Mother?
300
Temporally secure excavation contexts
315
References Cited
325
Index
361
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About the author (2010)

Robert M. Rosenswig is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York, Albany. He has directed archaeological fieldwork in Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica and has published numerous articles on the origins of agriculture and the development of socio-political complexity in Mesoamerica.

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