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The Postclassic Mesoamerican World

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Copyright: 2003
Trim: 8½ x 11
Pages: 398 pp.
Illustrations: 117 illus., 32 tables


The Postclassic Mesoamerican World

Edited by Michael E. Smith and Frances F. Berdan

Anthropology / Archaeology / Mesoamerica

The past two decades have seen an explosion of research on Postclassic Mesoamerican societies. In this ambitious new volume, the editors and contributors seek to present a complete picture of the middle and late Postclassic period (ca. AD 1100–1500) employing a new theoretical framework.

Mesoamerican societies after the collapse of the great city-states of Tula and Chichen Itza stand out from earlier societies in a number of ways. They had larger regional populations, smaller polities, a higher volume of long-distance trade, greater diversity of trade goods, a more commercialized economy, and new standardized forms of pictorial writing and iconography. The emerging archaeological record reveals larger quantities of imported goods in Postclassic contexts, and ethnohistoric accounts describe marketplaces, professional merchants, and the use of money throughout Mesoamerica by the time of the Spanish conquest. The integration of this commercial economy with new forms of visual communication produced a dynamic world system that reached every corner of Mesoamerica.

Thirty-six focused articles by twelve authors describe and analyze the complexity of Postclassic Mesoamerica. After an initial theoretical section, chapters are organized by key themes: polities, economic networks, information networks, case studies, and comparisons. Covering a region from western Mexico to Yucatan and the southwestern Maya highlands, this volume should be in the library of anyone with a serious interest in ancient Mexico.

Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables

PART I. An Ancient World System
1. Postclassic Mesoamerica ~ Michael E. Smith and Frances F. Berdan
2. Conceptualizing Macroregional Interaction: World-Systems Theory and the Archaeological Record ~ Susan Kepes and Philip Kohl
3. Spatial Structure of the Mesoamerican World System ~ Michael E. Smith and Frances F. Berdan

PART 2. Polities
4. Small Polities in Postclassic Mesoamerica ~ Michael E. Smith
5. Political Organization in Yucatán and Belize ~ Susan Kepecs and Marilyn A. Mason
6. Highland Maya Politics ~ Geoffrey E. Braswell
7. The Polities of Xoconochco ~ Janine Gasco
8. West Mexico beyond the Trascan Frontier ~ Helen Perlstein Pollard
9. Aztec City-States in the Basin of Mexico and Morelos ~ Michael E. Smith
10. Creation Stories, Hero Cults, and Alliance Building: Confederacies of Central and Southern Mexico ~ John M. D. Pohl
11. The Aztec Empire ~ Frances F. Berdan and Michael E. Smith
12. Borders in the Eastern Aztec Empire ~ Frances F. Berdan
13. The Tarascan Empire ~ Helen Perlstein Pollard
14. The Aztec/Tarascan Border ~ Helen Perlstein Pollard and Michael E. Smith

PART 3. Economic Networks
15. The Economy of Postclassic Mesoamerica ~ Frances F. Berdan
16. An International Economy ~ Frances F. Berdan, Marilyn A. Masson, Janine Gasco, and Michael E. Smith
17. International Trade Centers ~ Janine Gasco and Frances F. Berdan
18. Key Commodities ~ Michael E. Smith
19. Salt Sources and Production ~ Susan Kepecs
20. Obsidian Exchange Spheres ~ Geoffrey E. Braswell
21. Metal Production ~ Dorothy Hosler
22. Ritual Ideology and Commerce in the Southern Mexican Highlands ~ John M. D. Pohl

PART 4. Information Networks
23. Information Networks in Postclassic Mesoamerica ~ Michael E. Smith
24. Postclassic International Styles and Symbol Sets ~ Elizabeth H. Boone and Michael E. Smith
25. The Late Postclassic Symbol Set in the Maya Area ~ Marilyn A. Masson
26. Ritual and Iconographic Variability in Mixteca-Puebla Polychrome Pottery ~ John M. D. Pohl
27. A Web of Understanding: Pictorial Codices and the Shared Intellectual Culture of Late Postclassic Mesoamerica ~ Elizabeth H. Boone

PART 5. Regional Case Studies
28. Themes in World-System Regions ~ Frances F. Berdan
29. Development of a Tarascan Core: The Lake Pátzcuaro Basin ~ Helen Perlstein Pollard
30. The Evolution of a Core Zone: The Basin of Mexico ~ Frances F. Berdan and Michael E. Smith
31. Royal Marriage and Confederacy Building among the Eastern Nahuas, Mixtes, and Zapotecs ~ John M. D. Pohl
32. Economic Change in Morelos Households ~ Michael E. Smith
33. Chikinchel ~ Susan M. Kepecs
34. Economic Patterns in Northern Belize ~ Marilyn A. Masson
35. Soconusco ~ Janine Gasco
36. K'iche'an Origins, Symbolic Emulation, and Ethnogenesis in the Maya Highlands, A.D. 1450–1524 ~ Geoffrey E. Braswell

PART 6. Synthesis and Comparisons
37. Different Hemispheres, Different Worlds ~ Philip L. Kohl and Evgenij N. Chernykh
38. A Perspective on Late Postclassic Mesoamerica ~ Frances F. Berdan, Susan Kepecs, and Michael E. Smith

References Cited

Praise and Reviews:

"This is an impressive reference and guide to the Mesoamerican Postclassic period."
—Michael Foster, author of Greater Mesoamerica: The Archaeology of West and Northwest Mexico

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