Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chocolate stirrer discovered at St. Augustine

Not a big surprise, but nice confirmation. The role of Mesoamericans and their culture in the Spanish Empire is a story that still hasn't gotten the attention it deserves


Monday, September 21, 2009

El Mirador - Destroyed by Teotihuacanos?

Press reports coming from the El Mirador project are intriguing, to say the least. This will complicate the arguments over the relationships between Teotihuacan and Tikal, and El Mirador and Calakmul.
"Many of the excavated blades are made of obsidian which the archaeologists have traced to a source hundreds of miles away in the Mexican highlands. They believe the spears belonged to warriors from Teotihuacan, an ancient civilization near Mexico City and an ally of Tikal, which was an enemy city of El Mirador.

"We've found over 200 of the obsidian tips alone, as well as flint ones, indicating there was a tremendous battle," said excavation leader Richard Hansen, a senior scientist in Idaho State University's anthropology department who is pushing the pyramid battle theory."


"Hansen's archaeologists found graffiti they believe was left by Teotihuacan fighters who smashed up carved Maya monoliths and left crudely etched skull drawings, known as Tlalocs, on the rock as proof of their victory.

"The Tlaloc is the war god image of the highland Mexicans (and we found it) crudely pecked on these monuments, suggesting that perhaps a hostile event had taken place here," Hansen said."


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Immigrants and Abandonment at Kiuic

UPDATE: August 2010 - USA Today returned for a multimedia exploration of Kiuic

Friends and colleagues from the past have made news this weekend with their work at Kiuic, Yucatan, and its Terminal Classic florescence and abandonment. Some choice bits

"Both the pyramids and the palaces look like latter-day additions to Kiuic, built in the 9th century, just as Maya centers farther south were being abandoned. "The influx of wealth ... may spring from immigration," Bey says, as Maya headed north."


"the archaeologists found tools, stone knives and axes, corn-grinder stones called metates ... and pots still sitting in place. "It was completely unexpected," Bey says. "It looks like they just turned the metates on their sides and left things waiting for them to come back.""


"The only sign of warfare is a collection of spear points found in the central plaza of Kiuic. There are signs that construction halted there — a stucco-floored plaza sits half-complete, for example. "Drought seems more likely, that would halt construction," Bey says."


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tarascan Elite Island Site Includes Conquest-Era Chapel


The little note about the colonial chapel is obviously of interest to me. I do not know why they're claiming it to be specifically within the first twenty years of the Conquest (so, about 1540), but I'm interested to find out.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ebay Curtails Archaeological Looting


Great story. Based on the research of Charles Stanish of UCLA's Cotsen Institute, Ebay harms archaeological looting.

In essence, Ebay and the internet in general has made it easier for people around the world to market "fakes"/replicas of archaeological artifacts for low prices. In turn, this has satisfied many customers who want something "authentic" and either prefer replicas due to ethics/costs, or don't know the difference and are simply amazed that an "ancient" Maya bowl markets for $35. This has lessened the demand for actual looted antiquities, and has flooded the market with excellent replicas, making the entire issue of buying and selling the real deal more difficult and risky.

Looting hasn't even remotely gone away. But it's nice to see the internet, which had initially been pegged as making the problem worse, actually making the problem better and encouraging a new market in ethically positive replicas sold more directly by local artisans not beholden to smuggling networks.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Aztec Burials from Spanish Conquest w. elements of Spanish Culture

A recently excavated mass grave in Mexico City dates to roughly the time of the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire.


Some elements in particular are of note

"The men also were carefully buried Christian-style, lying on their backs with arms crossed over their chests, though many appear to have been wrapped up in large maguey cactus leaves, rather than placed in European coffins.

The mass grave contained evidence of an Aztec-like ritual in which offerings such as incense and animals were set alight in an incense burner, but Spanish elements including buttons and a bit of glass also were present."

This mix of goods and especially practices suggests a number of possibilities, though speculating further based on the limited information here is not the best course of action.

Update: More details (in Spanish)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Chocolate spread from Ancient Mesoamerica into the US Southwest

Testing of Chaco cylinder vessels shows chocolate consumption, another important Mesoamerican domesticate and social practice to filter at some point into the Southwest.