Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher A. Pool

Abstract

Teotihuacan was the most influential city in the Classic Mesoamerican worldsystem. Like other influential cities in the ancient world, however, Teotihuacan did not homogenously affect the various cultural landscapes that thrived in Mesoamerica during the Classic period (300-900 CE). Even where strong central Mexican influences appear outside the Basin of Mexico, the nature, extent, and strength of these influences are discontinuous over time and space. Every place within the Classic Mesoamerican landscape has a unique Teotihuacan story. In the Tuxtla Mountains of southern Veracruz, Mexico, Matacapan, located in the Catemaco Valley, drew heavily upon ideas and symbols fostered at Teotihuacan, while Totocapan, a peer political capital located in the neighboring Tepango Valley, emphasized social institutions well-entrenched within Gulf Coast cultural traditions.

Through a detailed comparison of these two river valleys, I demonstrate that each polity developed along different trajectories. By the Middle Classic (450-650 CE) each polity displayed different political, economic, and ritual institutions. While they shared an underlying material culture style, the data suggest that the regimes of both polities promoted a different ideology. These cultural divergences did not, however, cause hostilities between them. To the contrary, compositional sourcing of Coarse Orange jars indicates that they engaged in material exchanges with each other.

Agents at each settlement within the study region made unique decisions with regard to their involvement in local, regional, and macroregional interaction networks, particularly with regard to the adoption or rejection of Teotihuacan cultural elements. As a result, the Classic period Tuxtlas comprised multiple overlapping, but disjoint, landscapes of interaction. Places of human settlement were nodes on the landscape where these disjoint landscapes intersected in space and time. By examining these disjunctures, world-system studies can reveal a trend of increasing cultural diversity that parallels the better-theorized trend of homogenization emphasized by core-periphery models. In this dissertation, I take the initial steps toward developing an archaeology of disjuncture that examines the cultural variability that develops where groups across the landscape employ different strategies of interaction within the world-system.

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