Exchanges, assumptions, and mortuary goods in pre-Paquimé Chihuahua, Mexico

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Archaeologists may fantasize about being able to directly observe the prehistoric movement of goods, but reality is not so kind. All interpretations of prehistoric exchange-from the "prehistoric trade route" maps of an earlier generation to World Systems Theory-are laden with assumptions. Early researchers focused on the quantity and the direction of movements of easily recognized long-distance goods, making what seem now to be simplistic assumptions about the causes and mechanisms that underlay those movements (e.g., Brand 1938). Today, archaeologists are focused on the causes of exchange: What purposes did exchanges serve, or more pointedly, whose needs did they serve? To answer such questions we employ models such as World Systems Theory, peer polity interaction, and prestige goods economy. These models' histories and theoretical assumptions differ considerably, but they share a focus on understanding exchange as part of larger systems and on meeting the needs of certain individuals or segments of society. The match between the assumptions of these models and the archaeological record is explored here with a small-scale but detailed analysis of pre-Paquimé (or pre-Casas Grandes) mortuary goods from northwest Chihuahua, Mexico, focusing on the role of nonlocal goods. Specifically, I reexamine the pre-Paquimé mortuary data collected by Di Peso and colleagues (1974) from the Perros Bravos phase at the Convento site. These data are placed in context by comparing them with the roughly contemporary but distant mortuary remains from the Mimbres Valley and the later (post-A.D. 1200) practices at nearby Paquimé. These comparisons point to some shortcomings of the models and suggest that we should again reconsider some of our assumptions about the movement of goods in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico (SUSNM).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Regional Interaction
Subtitle of host publicationReligion, Warfare, and Exchange Across The American Southwest and Beyond
PublisherUniversity Press of Colorado
Pages189-208
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780870819049
StatePublished - 2008

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