Settlement Archaeology and Political Economy at Tres Zapotes, Veracruz, Mexico


Series: Monographs 50
ISBN: 978-1-931745-07-9
Publication Date: Jul 2003
Price: Pb $7.98
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Christopher A. Pool

“Tres Zapotes has long been recognized as a major Olmec site. Surveys by Pool and colleagues now provide more systematic context.”
  — Antiquity, 2005

This volume presents new information from a program of intensive archaeological survey and surface collection at an important Olmec and Epi-Olmec center. A dual strategy of systematic interval transect sampling and full-coverage survey of architectural features and artifact concentrations permits an evaluation of the relative effectiveness of these commonly employed methods. Auger testing in floodplain areas yielded evidence of extensive buried deposits. Distributional analysis of the surface and subsurface data documents the site's growth and decline from 900 BC to AD 900 in radiocarbon years and confirm that Tres Zapotes achieved its apogee during the Late and Terminal Formative periods (400 BC--AD 300). An attribute analysis of burned earthen artifacts discriminates between daub and probable kiln remains, helping to define ceramic production loci. Interpretive chapters discuss the organization of ceramic and obsidian craft production, concluding that craft activities were mainly household based with little elite control over production. The concluding synthesis argues for weak centralization of authority of Tres Zapotes and highlights variability in the political and economic processes affecting forms of urbanism in the lowlands of Mesoamerica.

Table of Contents
  • Ch. 01: Introduction
  • Ch. 02: archaeological Survey and Settlement at Tres Zapotes by Christopher A. Pool and Michael A. Ohnersorgen
  • Ch. 03: Buried Occupational Deposits at Tres Zapotes: The Results of an Auger Testing Program by Carl J. Wendt
  • Ch. 04: Interpreting Burned Earthen Artifacts: A Spatial and Quantitative Analysis of Daub and Kiln Debris from Tres Zapotes by Elizabeth A. Hoag
  • Ch. 05: Ceramic Production at Terminal Formative and Classic Period Tres Zapotes by Christopher A. Pool
  • Ch. 06: Obsidian Production, Consumption, and Distribution at Tres Zapotes: Piecing Together Political Economy by Charles Knight
  • Ch. 07: Centers and Peripheries: Urbanization and Political Economy at Tres Zapotes by Christopher A. Pool