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A comparison of early and middle formative political development in the Soconusco and valley of Oaxaca: settlement mortuary and architectural patterns

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Title: A comparison of early and middle formative political development in the Soconusco and valley of Oaxaca: settlement mortuary and architectural patterns
Author: Rosenswig, Robert M.
Degree: Master of Arts - MA
Program: Anthropology
Copyright Date: 1998
Issue Date: 2009-05-26
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Abstract: Settlement, mortuary and architectural data are used in this thesis to examine the emergence and development of cultural complexity in Early and Middle Formative societies in the Soconusco and Valley of Oaxaca. A model is presented that examines the degree to which a culture is internally or externally focused in order to explore evolutionary process. I posit that there is an inverse relationship between the quantity of energy that is expended on internally focused, intra-polity competition and that which is expended on externally oriented, inter-polity endeavours. The Soconusco data suggest an internally focused political organization that resulted in an early development of political complexity. However, such power was fleeting and populations nucleated around successive political centers across the region, none lasting more than a century or two. Complexity in this region is documented through settlement patterns and the conspicuous consumption of labour reflected in architectural construction, at the heart of each polity. Conversely, data from the Valley of Oaxaca suggest a more externally focused system. San Jose Mogote dominated the political arena for over a thousand years; expanding its size and focus beyond the limits of the valley. Public architecture of a moderate scale and of a more uniform pattern at each site is found throughout the Valley of Oaxaca. Domestic architecture was also modest and underemphasized political and economic differences. The horizontal organization (i.e., internal/external focus) of the two regions affected the rate and form of their respective evolutionary trajectories. Mortuary data from the Early Formative periods of both regions do not reflect the same degree of complexity as the other classes of data and this suggests that when cultural complexity is emerging expressions of social differentiation may lag behind political hierarchy.
Affiliation: Arts, Faculty of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/8225
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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