Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-54jdg Total loading time: 0.279 Render date: 2022-08-11T22:18:09.992Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Quantitative Measures of Wealth Inequality in Ancient Central Mexican Communities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2017

Michael E. Smith
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (mesmith9@asu.edu)
Timothy Dennehy
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (TimDennehy@gmail.com)
April Kamp-Whittaker
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (akampwhi@asu.edu)
Emily Colon
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (eacolon@asu.edu)
Rebecca Harkness
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (rharknes@asu.edu)

Abstract

Issues of social and economic inequality are increasingly becoming areas of study for archaeologists; however, little work has been done on the uniform application of analytical methods. Here we assess the use of the Gini index for determining wealth inequality in eight Prehispanic central Mexican contexts. We analyze house size at the Late Postclassic sites of Capilco (village), Cuexcomate (town), and Yautepec (city), all in the state of Morelos. Agricultural field sizes for two communities described in a Nahuatl-language census immediately after the Spanish conquest are also analyzed. Our final context is the Xolalpan phase apartment compounds at Teotihuacan. Using these case studies we discuss methodological issues concerning the use of Gini indices to infer social inequality with archaeological data. We find that the Gini index, when applied following the proposed methodological standards, serves as a useful tool for the quantification of inequality across multiple archaeological case studies.

Los temas sobre la desigualdad social y económica se están convirtiendo de manera progresiva en campos de investigación de la arqueología; sin embargo, es muy poco el trabajo que se ha realizado en torno a la aplicación uniforme de métodos analíticos. En este caso evaluamos el uso del índice Gini para determinar la desigualdad de la riqueza en ocho contextos prehispánicos del Centro de México. Analizamos el tamaño de la casa en los sitios del Posclásico Tardío de Capilco (una aldea), Cuexcomate (pueblo) y Yautepec (ciudad), todos en el estado de Morelos. También se analizan las extensiones de los campos agrícolas de dos comunidades descritas en un censo en lengua náhuatl po terior a la conquista española. Nuestro contexto final obedece a los complejos de apartamentos de la fase Xolalpan en Teotihuacán. Utilizando estos estudios de caso discutimos los problemas metodológicos que conciernen al uso de los índices Gini para inferir la desigualdad social con datos arqueológicos. Encontramos que el índice Gini, cuando se aplica siguiendo los estándares metodológicos propuestos, sirve como una herramienta útila para la cuantificación de la desigualdad a partir de múltiples estudios de caso arqueológicos.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Ames, Kenneth M. 2008 The Archaeology of Rank. In Handbook of Archaeological Theories, edited by Bentley, R. Alexander, Maschner, Herbert D. G., and Chippindale, Christopher, pp. 487513. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, California.Google Scholar
Blanton, Richard E. 1994 Houses and Households: A Comparative Study. Plenum, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bodley, John H. 2003 The Power of Scale: A Global History Approach. M. E. Sharpe, Armonk, New York.Google Scholar
Cortés, Cabrera, Oralia, M. 2006 Craft Production and Socio-Economic Marginality: Living on the Periphery of Teotihuacán, México. Report to the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. Electronioc document, http://www.famsi.org/reports/03090/, accessed March 1, 2013.Google Scholar
Cortés, Cabrera, Oralia, M. 2011 Craft Production and Socio-economic Marginality: Living on the Periphery of Urban Teotihuacan. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University.Google Scholar
Carrasco, Pedro 1971 Las clases sociales en el México antiguo. In Proceedings, 38th International Congress of Americanists (Stuttgart-Munich, 1968), pp. 371–76, vol. 2. International Congress of Americanists, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
Carrasco, Pedro 1972 La casa y hacienda de un señor tlahuica. Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl 10:235244.Google Scholar
Carrasco, Pedro 1976 Estratificación social indígena en Morelos durante el siglo XVI. In Estratifiación social en la Mesoamérica Prehispánica, edited by Carrasco, Pedro and Broda, Johanna, pp. 102117. Instituto Nacional de Antropolgía e Historia, Mexico City.Google Scholar
Castillo Farreras, Victor M. 1972 Unidades nahuas de medida. Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl 10:195223.Google Scholar
Cline, S. L. 1993 The Book of Tributes: Early Sixteenth-Century Nahuatl Censuses from Morelos. UCLA Latin American Center, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
Cline, S. L., and León-Portilla, Miguel 1984 The Testaments of Culhuacan. UCLA Latin American Center, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
Cowell, Frank A. 2011 Measuring Inequality. 3rd ed.Oxford University Press, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cowgill, George L. 2008 An Update on Teotihuacan. Antiquity 82:962975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cutting, Marion 2006 More Than One Way to Study a Building: Approaches to Prehistoric Household and Settlement Space. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 25:225246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Vega Nova, Hortensia 1996 Proyecto de investigación arqueológico en Yautepec, Morelos. In Memoria, III Congreso Interno del Centro INAH Morelos, Acapantzingo, Cuernavaca, 1994, pp. 149168. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Centro INAH Morelos, Cuernavaca, Morelos.Google Scholar
de Vega Nova, Hortensia, and Guala, Pablo Mayer 1991a Proyecto Yautepec. Boletín del Consejo de Arqueología 1991:7984.Google Scholar
de Vega Nova, Hortensia, and Guala, Pablo Mayer 1991b Informe parcial del Proyecto Yautepec, Morelos: segunda temporada de campo (Octubre 1990-Enero 1991). Centro INAH Estado de Morelos, Cuernavaca.Google Scholar
Deininger, Klaus, and Squire, Lyn 1996 A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality. World Bank Economic Review 18(3):565591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Durán, Fray Diego 1967 Historia de las Indias de Nueva España, volume 2. Translated by M., Angel Porrúa, Garibay K., Mexico City.Google Scholar
Gerhard, Peter 1975 Continuity and Change in Morelos, Mexico. Geographical Review 65:335352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hinz, Eike, Hartau, Claudine, and Heimann-Koenen , Marie 1983 Aztekischer Zensus: Zur Indianischen Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft im Marquesado um 1540. Verlag fur Ethnologie, Hanover.Google Scholar
Kintigh, Keith W., Altschul, Jeffrey, Beaudry, Mary, Drennan, Robert, Kinzig, Ann, Kohler, Timothy, Limp, W. Frederick, Maschner, Herbert, Michener, William, Pauketat, Timothy, Peregrine, Peter, Sabloff, Jeremy, Wilkinson, Tony, Wright, Henry, and Zeder, Melinda 2014 Grand Challenges for Archaeology. American Antiquity 79:524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lindert, Peter H., and Williamson, Jeffrey G. 1983 Reinterpreting England’s Social Tables, 1688-1812. Explorations in Economic History 20(4):94109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lockhart, James 1992 The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
McCaa, Robert 1996 Matrimonia infantil, cemithualtin (familias complejas) y el antiguo pueblo nahua. Historia Mexicana 46:370.Google Scholar
McGuire, Randall H. 1983 Breaking Down Cultural Complexity: Inequality and Heterogeneity. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 6:91142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Manzanilla, Linda 2004 Social Identity and Daily Life at Classic Teotihuacan. In Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice, edited by Hendon, Julia A. and Joyce, Rosemary, pp. 124147. Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
Manzanilla, Linda 2009 Corporate Life in Apartment and Barrio Compounds at Teotihuacan, Central Mexico: Craft Specialization, Hierarchy, and Ethnicity>. In Domestic Life in Prehispanic Capitals: A Study of Specialization, Hierarchy, and Ethnicity, edited by Manzanilla, Linda and Chapdelaine, Claude, pp. 2142. Memoirs, vol. 46. University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
Milanovic, Branko 2011 The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality. Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
Milanovic, Branko, Lindert, Peter H., and Williamson, Jeffrey G. 2011 Pre-Industrial Inequality. The Economic Journal 121:255272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Millon, René 1973 Urbanization at Teotihuacan, Mexico, Volume 1: The Teotihuacan Map, Part 1: Text. University of Texas Press, Austin.Google Scholar
Millon, René 1981 Teotihuacan: City, State, and Civilization. In Archaeology, edited by Sabloff, Jeremy, pp. 198243. Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 1. University of Texas Press, Austin.Google Scholar
Millon, René, Drewitt, R. Bruce, and Cowgill, George L. 1973 Urbanization at Teotihuacan, Mexico, Volume 1: The Teotihuacan Map, Part 2: Maps. University of Texas Press, Austin.Google Scholar
Netting, Robert McC., Wilk, Richard R., and Arnould , Eric J.(editors) 1984 Households: Comparative and Historical Studies of the Domestic Group. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Olson, Jan Marie 2001 Unequal Consumption: A Study of Domestic Wealth Differentials in Three Late Postclassic Mexican Communities. PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University at Albany, SUNY.Google Scholar
Olson, Jan Marie, and Smith, Michael E. 2014 Material Expressions of Wealth and Social Class at Aztec-Period Sites in Morelos, Mexico. Manuscript on file, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.Google Scholar
Pasztory, Esther 1997 Teotihuacan: An Experiment in Living. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.Google Scholar
Pizzigoni, Caterina 2013 The Life Within: Local Indigenous Society in Mexico’s Toluca Valley, 1650-1800. Stanford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robertson, Ian G. 2008 “Insubstantial” Residential Structures at Teotihuacán, México. Report to the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. Electronic document, http://www.famsi.org/reports/06103, accessed March 1, 2013.Google Scholar
Schulting, Rick J. 1995 Mortuary Variability and Status Differentiation on the Columbia-Fraser Plateau. Archaeology Press, Burnaby, B.C.Google Scholar
Séjourné, Laurette 1994 Teotihuacan: capital de los toltecas. Siglo Veintiuno, Mexico City.Google Scholar
Siegel, Jacob S., and Swanson, David 2004 The Methods and Materials of Demography. 2nd ed. Elsevier/Academic Press, Boston.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E. 1992 Archaeological Research at Aztec-Period Rural Sites in Morelos, Mexico. Volume 1, Excavations and Architecture/Investigaciones arqueológicas en sitios rurales de la época Azteca en Morelos, Tomo 1, excavaciones y arquitectura Memoirs in Latin American Archaeology., vol. 4.University of Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E. 1993 Houses and the Settlement Hierarchy in Late Postclassic Morelos: A Comparison of Archaeology and Ethnohistory. In Prehispanic Domestic Units in Western Mesoamerica: Studies of the Household, Compound, and Residence, edited by Santley, Robert S. and Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 191206. CRC Press, Boca Raton.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E. 1994a Economies and Polities in Aztec-period Morelos: Ethnohistoric Introduction. In Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm, edited by Hodge, Mary G. and Smith, Michael E., pp. 313348. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, Albany.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E. 1994b Social Complexity in the Aztec Countryside. In Archaeological Views from the Countryside: Village Communities in Early Complex Societies, edited by Schwartz, Glenn and Falconer, Steven, pp. 143159. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E. 2008 Aztec City-State Capitals. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E. 2014 Housing in Premodern Cities: Patterns of Social and Spatial Variation. International Journal of Architectural Research 8(3), in press.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael E., Heath-Smith, Cynthia, Kohler, Ronald, Odess, Joan, Spanogle, Sharon, and Sullivan, Timothy 1994 The Size of the Aztec City of Yautepec: Urban Survey in Central Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 5:111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, Michael E., Heath-Smith, Cynthia, and Montiel, Lisa 1999 Excavations of Aztec Urban Houses at Yautepec, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 10:133150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, Michael E., and Hodge, Mary G. 1994 An Introduction to Late Postclassic Economies and Polities. In Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm, edited by Hodge, Mary G. and Smith, Michael E., pp. 142. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, Albany.Google Scholar
Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2012 The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future. Norton, New York.Google Scholar
Tilly, Charles 2005 Historical Perspectives on Inequality. In The Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities, edited by Romero, Mary and Margolis, Eric, pp. 1530. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
>Wilk, Richard R. 1983 Little House in the Jungle: The Causes of Variation in House Size among Kekchi Maya. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2:99116.Google Scholar
Wilkinson, Richard G., and Pickett, Kate 2009 The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Bloomsbury Press, New York.Google Scholar
Williamson, Jeffrey G. 2010 Five Centuries of Latin American Income Inequality. Revista de Historia Económica 28 (Special Issue 02):227252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Windler, Arne, Thiele, Rainer, and Müller, Johannes 2013 Increasing Inequality in Chalcolithic Southeast Europe: The Case of Durankulak. Journal of Archaeological Science 40:204210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wright, Katherine I. 2014 Domestication and Inequality? Households, Corporate Groups and Food Processing Tools at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 33:133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
29
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Quantitative Measures of Wealth Inequality in Ancient Central Mexican Communities
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Quantitative Measures of Wealth Inequality in Ancient Central Mexican Communities
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Quantitative Measures of Wealth Inequality in Ancient Central Mexican Communities
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *