Casas Grandes and its hinterland: prehistoric regional organization in northwest Mexico
Casas Grandes, or PaquimA(c), is one of the most important settlements in the prehistoric North American Southwest. The largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, it was characterized by its principal excavator, Charles Di Peso, as an outpost of the Toltec empire, which used it as a trade link between Mesoamerican and southwestern cultures. Michael E. Whalen and Paul E. Minnis have worked extensively in the Casas Grandes area and now offer new research arguing that it was not as similar to the highly developed complex societies of Mesoamerica as has been thought. In the first book of its kind in 25 years, the authors analyze settlement pattern data from more than 300 communities in the area surrounding Casas Grandes to show that its Medio period culture was a local development. Whalen and Minnis propose that Casas Grandes lacked extensive stratification, well-established decision-making hierarchies, and formalized positions of authority. They suggest instead that emerging elites used bribes, promises, and threats to build factions and extend their power. The communities at the periphery are shown to have had varying levels of social and economic interaction with Casas Grandes. This innovative study offers a new model for the rise and fall of Casas Grandes that departs considerably from the view most scholars have come to accept and will be of interest to all concerned with the comparative study of emergent complexity. It clearly shows that the idea of extensive regional centralization by Casas Grandes is no longer tenable and merits reconsideration by the archaeological community.
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COMPLEX SOC1ET1ES AND REG1ONAL SYSTEMS
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CASAS GRANDES CONCEPT
ESTABL1SH1NG A REG1ONAL CONTEXT FOR CASAS GRANDES
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Agua Zarca archaeological architecture argue artifact aviculture ball courts birdcages cage door stones Carretas Casas Grandes regional Casas Grandes River center of Casas ceramic ceramic assemblages ceramic densities chapter core zone Cuervo discussion drainage elite excavated exotica F1GURE features and facilities figure hierarchy Hohokam Inner and Middle Inner Zone settlements intensive survey interaction large ovens large settlements lower Casas Grandes macaw cage Medio period room Medio period settlements Medio settlements ments Mesoamerican Mexico Middle Zone Middle Zone settlements Mimbres Nearest Neighbor northwest Chihuahua northwestern Chihuahua observed Paquime percent period room block periphery Peso Peso's platform mounds pochteca political Polychrome populations prehistoric primate center production pueblos rank-size distributions recorded regional system ritual room block mounds San Pedro San Pedro River settlement pattern settlement system shell sherds shows Sierra Madre southwestern United structure study area surface Survey Zone Tapicitas Tinaja U.S. Southwest Viejo period Viejo sites Whalen and Minnis Zone's