Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

ALTICA, COAPEXCO, AND THE ROLE OF MIDDLEMEN IN FORMATIVE OBSIDIAN EXCHANGE

  • Nadia E. Johnson (a1) and Kenneth G. Hirth (a1)

Abstract

Altica's location in the Patlachique Range, 10 km away from the Otumba obsidian source, suggests its potential role in the distribution of Otumba obsidian. Altica may have been an important Formative middleman and processing site for obsidian exchange within the Basin of Mexico. To the south, Coapexco's position along a natural, restricted inlet to the Basin of Mexico may have enabled it to function as a node for pooling and distributing material into the Basin. This paper combines geochemical sourcing and technological data drawn from several Early and Middle Formative obsidian assemblages to reconstruct the movement of obsidian in this period to identify obsidian sources and consumption sites. In doing so, the paper assesses the role that intermediary sites like Altica and Coapexco could have played in the processing and distribution of obsidian into more distant consumption sites.

Copyright

Corresponding author

E-mail correspondence to:nej5030@psu.edu

References

Hide All
Andrefsky, William 1998 Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Bamforth, Douglas B. 1991 Flintknapping Skill, Communal Hunting, and Paleoindian Projectile Point Typology. The Plains Anthropologist 36:309322.
Biskowski, Martin 2015 Towards Future Economic Research in the Basin of Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 26:391405.
Blomster, Jeffrey P., and Glascock, Michael D. 2011 Obsidian Procurement in Formative Oaxaca, Mexico: Diachronic Changes in Political Economy and Interregional Interaction. Journal of Field Archaeology 36:2141.
Boksenbaum, Martin W. 1978 Lithic Technology in the Basin of Mexico during the Early and Middle Preclassic. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, City University of New York, New York.
Boksenbaum, Martin W., Tolstoy, Paul, Harbottle, Garman, Kimberlin, Jerome, and Neivens, Mary 1987 Obsidian Industries and Cultural Evolution in the Basin of Mexico Before 500 B.C. Journal of Field Archaeology 14:6575.
Braswell, Geoffrey E., Clark, John E., Aoyama, Kazuo, McKillop, Heather I., and Glascock, Michael D. 2000 Determining the Geological Provenance of Obsidian Artifacts from the Maya Region: A Test of the Efficacy of Visual Sourcing. Latin American Antiquity 11:269–82.
Burton, Susan S. 1987 Middle Formative Lithic Industries at Chalcatzingo. In Ancient Chalcatzingo, edited by Grove, David C., pp. 305320. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Carballo, David M., Carballo, Jennifer, and Neff, Hector 2007 Formative and Classic Period Obsidian Procurement in Central Mexico: A Compositional Study Using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry. Latin American Antiquity 18:2743.
Charlton, Thomas H. 1984 Production and Exchange: Variables in the Evolution of a Civilization. In Trade and Exchange in Early Mesoamerica, edited by Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 1742. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Clark, John, and Bryant, Douglas 1997 A Technological Typology of Prismatic Blades and Debitage from Ojo de Agua, Chiapas, Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 8:111136.
Clark, John E. 1987 Politics, Prismatic Blades, and Mesoamerican Civilization. In The Organization of Core Technology, edited by Johnson, Jay K. and Morrow, Carol A., pp. 259284. Westview Press, Boulder.
Clark, John E. 1988 The Lithic Artifacts of La Libertad, Chiapas, Mexico: An Economic Perspective. Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, No. 52. Brigham Young University, Provo.
Cobean, Robert H. 2002 Un mundo de obsidiana: Minería y comercio de un vidrio volcánico en el México antiguo. Serie Arqueología de México. Instituto de Anthropología e Historia, Mexico City, and University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.
Cobean, Robert H., Vogt, James R., Glascock, Michael D., and Stocker, Terrance L. 1991 High-Precision Trace-Element Characterization of Major Mesoamerican Obsidian Sources and Further Analyses of Artifacts from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 2:6991.
Coe, Michael D., and Diehl, Richard A. 1980 In the Land of the Olmec, Vol. 1. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Collins, Michael 1975 Lithic Technology as a Means of Processual Inference. In Lithic Technology: Making and Using Stone Tools, edited by Swanson, E., pp. 1534. Mouton, The Hague.
Crabtree, Don E. 1968 Mesoamerican Polyhedral Cores and Prismatic Blades. American Antiquity 33:446478.
Crabtree, Don E. 1972 The Cone Fracture Principle and the Manufacture of Lithic Materials. Tebiwa 15:2942.
Cyphers, Ann, and Hirth, Kenneth 2016 Transporte y producción artesanal en los albores del mundo olmeca. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City.
Dalton, George 1977 Aboriginal Economies in Stateless Societies. In Exchange Systems in Prehistory, edited by Earle, Timothy K. and Ericson, Jonathon E., pp. 191212. Academic Press, New York.
De León, Jason P., Hirth, Kenneth G., and Carballo, David M. 2009 Exploring Formative Period Obsidian Blade Trade: Three Distribution Models. Ancient Mesoamerica 20:113–28.
Ebert, Claire E., Dennison, Mark, Hirth, Kenneth G., McClure, Sarah B., and Kennett, Douglas J. 2015 Formative Period Obsidian Exchange Along the Pacific Coast of Mesoamerica. Archaeometry 57:5473.
Espinosa Severino, Omar 2016 La tecnología lítica de Chalcatzingo: Cadena conductual de navajas prismáticas. Licenciatura thesis, Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City.
Evans, Susan Toby 2004 Ancient Mexico and Central America: Archaeology and Culture History. Thames and Hudson, London.
Flenniken, J. Jeffrey 1981 Replicative Systems Analysis: A Model Applied to the Vein Quartz Artifacts from the Hoko River Site. Washington State University Laboratory of Anthropology Reports of Investigations, No. 59. Washington State University Laboratory of Anthropology, Pullman.
Glascock, Michael D. 2011 Comparison and Contrast between XRF and NAA: Used for Characterization of Obsidian Sources in Central Mexico. In X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF) in Geoarchaeology, edited by Steven Shackley, M., pp. 161192. Springer, New York.
Glascock, Michael D. 2013 Analysis of Formative Period Obsidian from the Site of Altica by X-ray Fluorescence. Report prepared at the University of Missouri Research Reactor. Manuscript on file, Dartmouth College, Hanover.
Glascock, Michael D., and Ferguson, Jeffrey R. 2012 Report on the Analysis of Obsidian Source Samples by Multiple Analytical Methods. Internal report on file, University of Missouri Research Reactor, Columbia.
Glascock, Michael D., Braswell, Geoffrey E., and Cobean, Robert H. 1998 A Systematic Approach to Obsidian Source Characterization. In Archaeological Obsidian Studies, edited by Steven Shackley, M., pp. 1565. Plenum Press, New York.
Golitko, Mark, and Feinman, Gary M. 2015 Procurement and Distribution of Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican Obsidian 900 BC–AD 1520: A Social Network Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22:206247.
Grove, David C. 1981 Olmec Monuments: Mutilation as a Clue to Meaning. In The Olmec and Their Neighbors: Essays in Memory of Matthew W. Stirling, edited by Benson, Elizabeth P., pp. 4968. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Grove, David C. 1987 Raw Materials and Sources. In Ancient Chalcatzingo, edited by Grove, David, pp. 376–86. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Grove, David C. 1989 Chalcatzingo and Its Olmec Connection. In Regional Perspectives on the Olmec, edited by Sharer, Robert J., Grove, David C., and Haas, Jonathan, pp. 122147. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Grove, David C. 2006 Chalcatzingo y la “cultura Tlatilco” en el preclásico de Morelos. In Arqueología e historia del centro de México: Homenaje a Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, edited by Luján, Leonardo López, Carrasco, David, and Cué, Lourdes, pp. 103113. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e History, Mexico City.
Grove, David C. 2007 Rethinking Early Formative Period Interactions in Morelos and the Basin of Mexico. Paper presented at the 72nd Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, Austin.
Grove, David C., Hirth, Kenneth G., Bugé, David E., and Cyphers, Ann M. 1976 Settlement and Cultural Development at Chalcatzingo. Science 192:12031210.
Hayden, Brian 1987 Traditional Metate Manufacturing in Guatemala Using Chipped Stone Tools. In Lithic Studies among the Contemporary Highland Maya, edited by Hayden, Brian, pp. 8119. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Healan, Dan M. 2009 Ground Platform Preparation and the “Banalization” of the Prismatic Blade in Western Mesoamerica. Ancient Mesoamerica 20:103111.
Healan, Dan M. 2019 Altica's Obsidian Industries and Their Place in Early–Middle Formative Obsidian Exploitation in Central Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 30:279294.
Heider, Karl 1969 Visiting Trade Institutions. American Anthropologist 71:462471.
Hirth, Kenneth, Cyphers, Ann, Cobean, Robert, De León, Jason, and Glascock, Michael D. 2013 Early Olmec Obsidian Trade and Economic Organization at San Lorenzo. Journal of Archaeological Science 40:27842798.
Hirth, Kenneth G. 1978 Interregional Trade and the Formation of Prehistoric Gateway Communities. American Antiquity 43:3545.
Hirth, Kenneth G. 2008 The Economy of Supply: Modeling Obsidian Procurement and Craft Provisioning at a Central Mexican Urban Center. Latin American Antiquity 19:435457.
Hirth, Kenneth G. 2009 Craft Production, Household Diversification, and Domestic Economy in Prehispanic Mesoamerica. In Housework: Craft Production and Domestic Economy in Ancient Mesoamerica, edited by Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 1332. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, No. 19. American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC.
Hirth, Kenneth G., and Andrews, Bradford W. 2006 Craft Specialization and Craftsman Skill. In Obsidian Craft Production in Ancient Central Mexico: Archaeological Research at Xochicalco, edited by Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 258274. University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
Hirth, Kenneth G., and Castanzo, Ronald 2006 Production for Use or Exchange: Obsidian Consumption at the Workshop, Household, and Regional Levels. In Obsidian Craft Production in Ancient Central Mexico: Archaeological Research at Xochicalco, edited by Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 218240. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Joyce, Rosemary A. 1999 Social Dimensions of Preclassic Burials. In Social Patterns in Preclassic Mesoamerica, edited by Joyce, Rosemary A. and Grove, David C., pp. 1547. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Lesure, Richard G. 1999 Platform Architecture and Activity Patterns in an Early Mesoamerican Village in Chiapas, Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology 26:391406.
Lesure, Richard G. 2011 Paso de la Amada as a Ceremonial Center. In Early Mesoamerican Social Transformations: Archaic and Formative Lifeways in the Soconusco Region, edited by Lesure, Richard G., pp. 119145. University of California Press, Los Angeles.
Lesure, Richard G., and Blake, Michael 2002 Interpretive Challenges in the Study of Early Complexity: Economy, Ritual, and Architecture at Paso de la Amada, Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 21:124.
Netting, Robert McC. 1981 Balancing on an Alp: Ecological Change and Continuity in a Swiss Mountain Community. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Nichols, Deborah L. 1987 Risk and Agricultural Intensification During the Formative Period in the Northern Basin of Mexico. American Anthropologist 89:596616.
Nichols, Deborah L. 2015 Intensive Agriculture and Early Complex Societies of the Basin of Mexico: The Formative Period. Ancient Mesoamerica 26:407421.
Nichols, Deborah L. 2016 Teotihuacan. Journal of Archaeological Research 24:174.
Niederberger, Christine 1976 Zohapilco: Cinco milenios de ocupación humana en un sitio lacustre de la Cuenca de México. Colección Científica 30. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City.
Niederberger, Christine 1979 Early Sedentary Economy in the Basin of Mexico. Science 203:131142.
Parry, William J. 1987 Chipped Stone Tools in Formative Oaxaca, Mexico: Their Procurement, Production and Use. Memoirs of the Museum of Anthropology, No. 20. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Parsons, Jeffrey R. 2005 The Aquatic Component of Aztec Subsistence: Hunters, Fishers, and Collectors in an Urbanized Society. MPublishing, University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor.
Parsons, Jeffrey R. 2010 The Pastoral Niche in Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. In Pre-Columbian Foodways: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Food, Culture, and Markets in Ancient Mesoamerica, edited by Staller, John and Carrasco, Michael, pp. 109136. Springer, New York.
Parsons, Jeffrey R., Brumfiel, Elizabeth M., Parsons, Mary H., and Wilson, David J. 1982 Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Southern Valley of Mexico: The Chalco-Xochimilco Region. Memoirs of the Museum of Anthropology, No. 14. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Pires-Ferreira, Jane W. 1975 Formative Mesoamerican Exchange Networks with Special Reference to the Valley of Oaxaca. Memoirs of the Museum of Anthropology, No. 7. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Pires-Ferreira, Jane W. 1976 Obsidian Exchange in Formative Mesoamerica. In The Early Mesoamerican Village, edited by Flannery, Kent V., pp. 292306. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek.
Plunket, Patricia, and Uruñuela, Gabriela 2012 Where East Meets West: The Formative in Mexico's Central Highlands. Journal of Archaeological Research 20:151.
Pool, Christopher A. 2007 Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Pool, Christopher A., Knight, Charles L. F., and Glascock, Michael D. 2014 Formative Obsidian Procurement at Tres Zapotes, Veracruz, Mexico: Implications for Olmec and Epi-Olmec Political Economy. Ancient Mesoamerica 25:271293.
Reimer, Paula J., Bard, Edouard, Bayliss, Alex, Warren Beck, J., Blackwell, Paul G., Ramsey, Christopher Bronk, Buck, Caitlin E., Cheng, Hai, Lawrence Edwards, R., Friedrich, Michael, Grootes, Pieter M., Guilderson, Thomas P., Haflidason, Haflidi, Hajdas, Irka, Hatté, Christine, Heaton, Timothy J., Hoffmann, Dirk L., Hogg, Alan G., Hughen, Konrad A., Felix Kaiser, K., Kromer, Bernd, Manning, Sturt W., Niu, Mu, Reimer, Ron W., Richards, David A., Marian Scott, E., Southon, John R., Staff, Richard A., Turney, Christian S. M., and van der Plicht, Johannes 2013 IntCal13 and Marine13 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves 0–50,000 Years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55:18691887.
Rosenswig, Robert M., Mendelsohn, Rebecca, Antonelli, Caroline, Lieske, Rosemary, and Núñez-Cortés, Yahaira 2014 Proyecto de reconocimiento regional de Izapa 2012: Informe técnicos parciales. Report submitted to the Consejo de Arqueología, INAH, Mexico City.
Sanders, William T. 1965 Cultural Ecology of the Teotihuacan Valley. Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
Sanders, William T., Parsons, Jeffrey, and Santley, Robert 1979 The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization. Academic Press, New York.
Santley, Robert 1984 Obsidian Exchange, Economic Stratification, and the Evolution of Complex Society in the Basin of Mexico. In Trade and Exchange in Early Mesoamerica, edited by Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 4386. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Serra Puche, Mari Carmen 1988 Los recursos lacustres de la Cuenca de México durante el Formativo. Coordinación General de Estudios Posgrado, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Autónoma de México, Mexico City.
Sheets, Payson 1972 A Model of Mesoamerican Obsidian Technology Based on Preclassic Workshop Debris in El Salvador. Ceramica de la Cultura Maya 8:1733.
Sheets, Payson 1975 Behavioral Analysis and the Structure of a Prehistoric Industry. Current Anthropology 16:369391.
Stark, Barbara L., Boxt, Matthew A., Gasco, Janine, González Lauck, Rebecca B., Hedgepeth Balkin, Jessica D., Joyce, Arthur A., King, Stacie M., Knight, Charles L. F., Kruger, Robert, Levine, Marc N., Lesure, Richard G., Mendelsohn, Rebecca, Navarro-Castillo, Marx, Neff, Hector, Ohnersorgen, Michael, Pool, Christopher A., Mark Raab, L., Rosenswig, Robert M., Venter, Marcie, Voorhies, Barbara, Williams, David T., and Workinger, Andrew 2016 Economic Growth in Mesoamerica: Obsidian Consumption in the Coastal Lowlands. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 41:263282.
Stoner, Wesley D., and Nichols, Deborah L. 2019 The Altica Project: Reframing the Formative Basin of Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 30:247265.
Stoner, Wesley D., Nichols, Deborah L., Alex, Bridget A., and Crider, Destiny L. 2015 The Emergence of Early-Middle Formative Exchange Patterns in Mesoamerica: A View from Altica in the Teotihuacan Valley. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 39:1935.
Tolstoy, Paul 1975 Settlement and Population Trends in the Basin of Mexico (Ixtapaluca and Zacatenco Phases). Journal of Field Archaeology 2:331349.
Tolstoy, Paul 1978 Western Mesoamerica Before AD 900. Academic Press, New York.
Tolstoy, Paul 1984 Recherches en archeologie et anthropologie americaines. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, L'Universite de Paris I (Sorbonne), Paris.
Tolstoy, Paul 1989 Coapexco and Tlatilco: Sites with Olmec Materials in the Basin of Mexico. In Regional Perspectives on the Olmec, edited by Sharer, Robert J. and Grove, David C., pp. 85121. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Tolstoy, Paul, and Paradis, Louise I. 1970 Early and Middle Preclassic Culture in the Basin of Mexico. Science 167:344351.
Tolstoy, Paul, and Fish, Suzanne K. 1975 Surface and Subsurface Evidence for Community Size at Coapexco, Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology 2:97104.
Tolstoy, Paul, Fish, Suzanne K., Boksenbaum, Michael W., Vaughn, Kevin B., and Smith, Charles E. 1977 Early Sedentary Communities of the Basin of Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology 4:91106.
Vaillant, George C. 1930 Excavations at Zacatenco, Mexico. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. 32. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
Vaillant, George C. 1935 Excavations at El Arbolillo. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. 35, Pt. 2. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
Wendt, Carl J. 2003 Formative Domestic Organization and Community Patterning in the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan Region, Veracruz, Mexico. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, State College.
Yan, Yunxiang 2005 The Gift and Gift Economy. In The Handbook of Economic Anthropology, edited by Carrier, James, pp. 246261. Edward Elgar Publishing, Northampton.

ALTICA, COAPEXCO, AND THE ROLE OF MIDDLEMEN IN FORMATIVE OBSIDIAN EXCHANGE

  • Nadia E. Johnson (a1) and Kenneth G. Hirth (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed