The Postclassic Mesoamerican World

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University of Utah Press, 2003 - Social Science - 382 pages
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Edited by Michael E. Smith and Frances F. Berdan

Anthropology and Archaeology

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.

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Postclassic Mesoamerica
Spatial Structure of the Mesoamerican World System

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About the author (2003)

Michael E. Smith is Professor of Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany. He is an archaeologist specializing in the study of the Aztecs of central Mexico, and has directed fieldwork projects at Aztec sites in the Mexican state of Morelos. He is the author of "The Aztecs" (Blackwell, 1996); co-author and co-editor of "Aztec Imperial Strategies" (with Frances Berdan et al., 1996) and co-editor of "Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm" (with Mary G. Hodge, 1994).

Marilyn A. Masson is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany. She is a Mesoamerican archaeologist currently focusing on the Postclassic period of the Maya lowlands under the auspices of the Belize Postclassic Project, formed in 1996. She is co-editor of "The Belize Postclassic Project 1998: Investigations at Progresso Lagoon" (1999).

Frances F. Berdan is Chair and Professor of Anthropology at California State University, San Bernardino. Her books include "The Aztecs of Central Mexico" (1982) and "The Tlaxcalan Actas" (with James Lockhart & Arthur J. O. Anderson, 1986). Patricia Rieff Anawalt is Director of the Center for the Study of Regional Dress, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of "Indian Clothing Before Cortes" (1981).

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