Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Neighborhoods at Mesoamerican Hilltop Cities

How does Calixtlahuaca compare to other Mesoamerican hilltop cities? We have written about this in a couple of places. In a paper from the SAA meetings in 2010, I compared Calixtlahuaca, Xochicalco, and a few other examples Smith (2010). If you want a copy of the paper, email me. One interesting difference is in the configuration of the terraces, and houses on terraces. This schematic diagram is from that paper:

(This drawing is by Miriam Cox, ASU student)

* Smith, Michael E.
2010 Xochicalco and Calixtlahuaca as Mesoamerican Hilltop Political Capitals. Paper presented at the 75th Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology, St. Louis.

Julie and I have also make a very brief comparison of Calixtlahuaca to other hilltop cities in terms of their neighborhood organization. The passage below is from our book chapter, now under review:

* Smith, Michael E. and Juliana Novic
* n.d. Neighborhoods and Districts in Ancient Mesoamerica. In Neighborhoods in Mesoamerican Archaeology: The Assessment of Intermediate Units of Spatial and Social Analysis, edited by Linda Manzanilla and Charlotte Arnauld, (book in preparation).

"The hilltop capital city was a common urban form in ancient Mesoamerica, and researchers have investigated neighborhoods and districts at several of these settlements. In one of the first studies of residential zones at a Mesoamerican city, Richard Blanton (1978:66-93) analyzed districts for both early and late periods at Monte Alban. In early Monte Alban three zones had subtle differences in the ceramic assemblage suggesting that neighborhoods or districts may have had distinctive patterns of shared material culture, possibly signaling some form of spatially based identity. Later periods saw an increase in urban division to fifteen architecturally visible districts. These areas were of mixed social class, with elite and commoners living near one another. Few craft activities were identified at the level of the district, although, Blanton (1978:95) did identify zones of obsidian and groundstone production. In a more recent study, González Licón (2009) discusses inequality among households at Monte Albán, with a consideration of the role of neighborhoods.
At the Oaxaca site of El Palmillo in the Classic period, residential zones were topographically distinguished and shared some economic and ritual activities (Feinman and Nicholas, chapter 7). Residents of nearby houses most likely engaged in joint work activities on common facilities such as terraces and stairs, which Feinman and Nicholas interpret in terms of collective action.
On the basis of a program of intensive surface collection and mapping at the Epiclassic period (AD 600-800) hilltop city of Xochicalco, Kenneth Hirth (2000:234-239) identified fourteen residential zones that he calls “wards” and “ward subdivisions” (figure 3). These were identified on the basis of features of the natural and built environments that impeded movement within the city, such as ravines, ditches, defensive walls, walled causeways, and steep terrace walls. When Hirth plotted the distribution of civic architecture outside of the hilltop epicenter, he found that all but one of his fourteen zones contained one or more temples or civic structures. These units correspond to districts as defined in this paper. In a recent paper, Hirth (2009) compared the distribution of obsidian tool workshops to his map of districts, and found a lack of spatial association between the two. This suggests to him that “(1) artisans did not collaborate in corporate craft activities outside the household, and (2) a craft guild did not exist at the barrio [ward or district] level” (Hirth 2009:58). In both of these works, Hirth compares the Xochicalco data to the Aztec calpolli as described in documentary sources.
Fieldwork by the authors at the hilltop city of Calixtlahuaca (Smith et al. 2009) suggests a division of the city into two districts based on topological considerations. On the basis of surface artifact densities, Novic identified twenty-four smaller zones—most likely neighborhoods—at Calixtlahuaca. The nature and dynamics of these spatial units is the focus of ongoing research (Novic 2008)."

Blanton, Richard E.
1978 Monte Alban: Settlement Patterns at the Ancient Zapotec Capitol. Academic Press, New York.
González Licón, Ernesto
2009 Ritual and Social Stratification at Monte Albán, Oaxaca: Strategies from a Household Perspective. In Domestic Life in Prehispanic Capitals: A Study of Specialization, Hierarchy, and Ethnicity, edited by Linda Manzanilla and Claude Chapdelaine, pp. 7-20. Memoirs, vol. 46. University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology, Ann Arbor.
Hirth, Kenneth G.
2000 Public Architecture, Site Planning, and Urban community Organization. In Archaeological Research at Xochicalco. Volume 1, Ancient Urbanism at Xochicalco: The Evolution and Organization of a Pre-Hispanic Society, edited by Kenneth G. Hirth, pp. 210-243. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
2009 Household, Workshop, Guild, and Barrio: The Organization of Obsidian Craft Production in a Prehispanic Urban Center. In Domestic Life in Prehispanic Capitals: A Study of Specialization, Hierarchy, and Ethnicity, edited by Linda Manzanilla and Claude Chapdelaine, pp. 43-66. Memoirs, vol. 46. University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology, Ann Arbor.
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.
Smith, Michael E., Juliana Novic, Angela Huster, and Peter C. Kroefges
2009 Reconocimiento Superficial y Mapeo en Calixtlahuaca. Expresión Antropológica 36:39-55.

Source from http://calixtlahuaca.blogspot.com

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