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... It begins in the Middle to Late Formative period with the appearance of settlements along what was likely an early shoreline of the southeastern end of Lake Cuitzeo (Sites 6, 9, and 10 in Figure 2). Ceramic materials recovered from the lowest levels of stratified deposits at these sites consist of thick-walled, well-polished monochrome and painted vessels and figurines consistent with the Chupícuaro ceramic complex described by Porter (1956), Florance (1985,1989), , and Darras and Faugère (2005) from pottery recovered from surface survey, household excavations, and burials located within the Puroagüita region of southern Guanajuato some 25 km east of the UZ source area (Figure 1). ...
The colours used in Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica to decorate walls, codices or artefacts have been the subject of numerous studies, with particular attention to Maya blue, red and white pigments. However, most of these studies have been focused on emblematic cultures of the Classic period (ca. 300–1000 CE), such as Teotihuacan and Maya cultures. This work proposes a new chronology of the preparation and use of these pigments, particularly Maya blue, by analysing samples of the Pre-Classic period (ca. 1800 BCE–300 CE). The samples belong to ceremonial artefacts decorated with blue, red and white pigments, in a funerary context from the Chupicuaro culture, which was developed between 600 and 100 BCE in Western Mexico. The analytical results obtained in this research by spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques (EDXRF, SEM-EDX, Raman and LC-MS/MS-TOF/MS) confirm the presence of indigo (Indigofera suffruticosa L., Indigofera mucrolata or Indigofera jamaicensis, among other local species), iron oxide (α-Fe2O3), cinnabar (HgS) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) as compounds of these colours. Our findings support the first evidence of the use of the indigo to elaborate a Maya blue pigment outside the Maya region at least four centuries before it was recognized in this region. Moreover, we found an ancient use of cinnabar mixed together with iron-based red pigments to cover bodies in the burial rites in Pre-Columbian societies, showing a connection between these red pigments and the funerary world in ancient America. These results have a great impact on the history of colour in ancient Mesoamerica from the economic, social, cultural and historical point of view. This study implies a geographical and chronological leap of high impact on the archaeology and history of ancient Mesoamerica.
It is a conundrum of the 21st Century that there is much left to discover and yet never before has our cultural and ecological patrimony been so threatened. This is especially true in tropical regions where heavy vegetation, inaccessibility, and rugged topography hamper investigation. Here we present two case studies that add to a growing body of literature demonstrating the utility of airborne mapping LiDAR (a.k.a. Airborne Laser Scanning) for rapid archaeological assessments in poorly documented regions. The first outlines a program of LiDAR scanning to better understand the urban center of Angamuco in the Mexican State of Michoacán. This work shows that (1) large urban centers with complex spatial organization were present centuries prior to the formation of the Purépecha Empire; (2) the settlement incorporates gardens and other landscape features within and around the settlement demonstrating a high degree of human environmental modification; and (3) current models for the evolution of social complexity in the region cannot account for the presence of Angamuco. The second presents the results of a LiDAR survey of a remote valley in the Mosquitia tropical wilderness of Honduras which has seen little archaeological research. Here we demonstrate that (1) though today the valley is a wilderness it was densely inhabited in the past; (2) this population was organized into a three-tiered system composed of 19 settlements dominated by a city; and (3) this occupation was embedded within a human engineered landscape. For both, LiDAR data fundamentally changed the understanding of coupled human/natural systems in these areas while providing critical baseline data for conservation and management.
Advances in LiDAR technology promise to change the way that ancient architectural remains are documented, analyzed, and managed at Mesoamerican urban centers. Here we discuss the way that LiDAR has helped document the location, temporal associations, and spatial arrangement of ancient architecture at the Purépecha city of Angamuco, located within the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, Michoacán, Mexico. Angamuco occupies a rugged topographic feature that has served to preserve ancient architectural features to a degree not typically seen within the region. As a supplement to full-coverage survey we obtained dense LiDAR data for 9 sq km of the settlement that clearly show over 20,000 architectural features from the urban core of the city. Through the use of LiDAR we were able to more quickly and accurately determine the size of the ancient city, better document the type and distribution of ancient features, and significantly change the manner in which we conducted the survey.
Mi aportación al presente volumen colectivo consiste en la elaboración de un análisis sintético de la prehistoria e historia temprana de los grupos indígenas que tienen una presencia histórica en el Centro-Norte de México, abordando la época Prehispánica y principios de la Novohispana. Me enfocaré en la región conocida como el Bajío, en el sur de lo que hoy es el sur del estado de Guanajuato, el poniente del estado de Querétaro, el norte de Michoacán y el oriente de Jalisco. Cuando sea pertinente, ampliaré este marco geográfico para incluir las regiones vecinas donde se dieron procesos culturales e históricos vinculados a los del Bajío. Esta tarea me obliga a trabajar desde una perspectiva transdisciplinaria, aprovechando los estudios previos realizados por arqueólogos, lingüistas, historiadores y etnohistoriadores, entre otras disciplinas científicas. Espero que los resultados sean útiles para los lectores que desean conocer las raíces profundas de los indígenas guanajuatenses.
Mexico’s Central Highlands form one of Mesoamerica’s fundamental cultural seams, a point of overlap between two traditions,
one to the east and the other to the west. Although this area is usually included in the west, it can be more productively
viewed as an interface, the physical space where people, goods, and ideas passed from one side to the other, and thus it holds
many keys for our understanding of emerging social complexity in Mesoamerica. In reviewing the last two decades of Formative
period (1500 BC–AD 100) research in this crucial territory, we focus on themes that reveal the variation and dynamism of interregional
interaction, including the formation of regional traditions, exchange systems, and foreign “influence,” and others that help
contextualize the events and processes of that time, like household studies and environmental degradation. We stress that
this part of Mexico is undergoing relentless development so time is of the essence if we are to broaden our perspectives on
social evolution in the Central Highlands. This issue cannot be resolved by rescue and salvage work because it requires long-term,
interdisciplinary projects to unravel multifaceted problems.