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The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America

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Copyright: 2003
Trim: 7 x 10
Pages: 264 pp.
Illustrations: 86 figures, 8 tables


The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America

Edited by Takeshi Inomata and Ronald W. Webb

Foundations of Archaeological Inquiry

James M. Skibo, series editor

Anthropology / Archaeology

Mesoamerican archaeologists have long been interested in the collapse of political systems or civilizations but have been slow to undertake detailed abandonment analyses of specific settlements. The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America explores some of the old questions in Middle American archaeology in light of the newer theoretical approach provided by abandonment studies. Unlike much of the abandonment work previously done in the American Southwest, a number of contributions to this volume examine relatively large population centers.

Among the original contributions in this collection is the discovery that deposits resulting from termination rituals are more common than previously thought. Several chapters point out that structures and places can continue to serve ritual functions even after abandonment. Another finding is that the causes of abandonment—warfare, economic marginalization, or natural cataclysm—are likely to have varied effects on different social groups, which in turn sheds light on occupational histories in specific sites preceding major abandonments.

Takeshi Inomata is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona.

Ronald W. Webb is program director of Latin American Studies at Temple University.


James J. Aimers, Southern Illinois University; Catherine M. Cameron, University of Colorado-Boulder; David Freidel, Southern Methodist University; Kenneth G. Hirth, Pennsylvania State University; Takeshi Inomata, University of Arizona; Frederick W. Lange, Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador; Linda Manzanilla, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Brian R. McKee, University of Arizona; Ben A. Nelson, Arizona State University; Joel W. Palka, University of Illinois-Chicago; Patricia Plunket, Universidad de las Américas; William T. Sanders, Pennsylvania State University; Robert S. Santley, University of New Mexico; Payson Sheets, University of Colorado-Boulder; Charles Suhler, Southern Methodist University; Gabriela Urñuela, Universidad de las Américas; Ronald W. Webb, Temple University; Marcus Winter, Centro del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia en Oaxaca

Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables
Foreword ~ Michael Brian Schiffer

1. Archaeological Studies of Abandonment in Middle America ~ Takeshi Inomata and Ronald W. Webb

I. Rapid Abandonment
2. From Episodic to Permanent Abandonment: Responses to Volcanic Hazards at Tetimpa, Puebla, Mexico ~ Patricia Plunket and Gabriela Uruñuela
3. Xochicalco, Morelos: The Abandonment of Households at an Epiclassic Urban Center ~ Ronald W. Webb and Kenneth G. Hirth
4. War, Destruction,and Abandonment: The Fall of the Classic Maya Center of Aguateca, Guatemala ~ Takeshi Inomata
5. Volcanic Activity and Abandonment Processes: Cerén and the Zapotitan Valley of El Salvador ~ Brian R. McKee and Payson Sheets

II. Gradual Abandonment
6. A Place of Continued Importance: The Abandonment of Epiclassic La Quemada ~ Ben A. Nelson
7. The Abandonment of Teotihuacan ~ Linda Manzanilla
8. Monte Albán and Late Classic Site Abandonment in Highland Oaxaca ~ Marcus Winter
9. Social Status and Differential Processes of Abandonment at the Classic Maya Center of Dos Pilas, Peten, Guatemala ~ Joel W. Palka
10. The Tale End of Two Cities: Tikal, Yaxuna, and Abandonment Contexts in the Lowland Maya Archaeological Record ~ Charles Suhler and David Freidel
11. Abandonment and Nonabandonment at Baking Pot, Belize ~ James J. Aimers

III. Regional Approaches
12. The Tuxtlas as Volcanic Hazard: Volcanism and Its Effects on Site Founding and Abandonment in the Tuxtla Mountains, Southern Veracruz, Mexico ~ Robert S. Santley
13. Push-Pull Archaeological Abandonment Behaviors in Lower Central America ~ Frederick W. Lange

IV.Commentary and Discussion
14. Collapse and Abandonment in Middle America ~ William T. Sanders
15. A Consideration of Abandonment from Beyond Middle America ~ Catherine M. Cameron


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