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Ceramics and Polity in the Casas Grandes Area, Chihuahua, Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Michael E. Whalen
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104
Paul E. Minnis
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019

Abstract

The Medio period (ca. A.D. 1150–1475) at the primate center of Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, is characterized by polychrome pottery with elaborate, finely painted designs. This originally was presumed to be the peak of an evolutionary sequence that began with coarse, simple decoration. New research and dating show that this was not the case. Instead, fine painting and an elaborate set of design motifs are added to the older, simpler style at about A.D. 1300. Both types of decoration are produced through the fourteenth century. The addition of the new style is coincident with the rise of Casas Grandes and was one part of a symbolic package that emphasized the prestige of the center. It is further argued that the collapse of the primate center in the fifteenth century saw the demise of its symbolism. The older and simpler part of the Medio period tradition, however, likely continued to be made at small, scattered post-Casas Grandes communities. These have been unrecognizable in surface surveys, as their sparse surface ceramic assemblages contain Medio period utilitarian wares. This has led to the supposition that the Casas Grandes area was abandoned after the fall of the primate center. This long-popular belief may be incorrect.

Resumen

Resumen

El Periodo Medio (1150–1475 d.C.) en el centro principal de Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, México, se caracteriza por la cerámica policroma con diseños elaborados y finamente pintados. Originalmente se presume que este estilo fue el apogeo de una secuen-eia evolutiva que empezó con una decoración simple y burda. Nuevas investigaciones indican que este no fue el caso. Al contrario, pintura fina y un conjunto de diseños elaborados se añadían al viejo estilo simple en el 1300 años d.C., y los dos estilos decorativos seguían produciéndose juntos durante el siglo catorce. Esto es coincidente con el desarrollo de Casas Grandes, y se sostiene que el suplementario estilo nuevo era una parte de un conjunto simbólico que servía para enfatizar el prestigio del centro principal. Se sustenta que el simbolismo de Casas Grandes perdió su relevancia después de la caída del centro principal en el siglo quince. Sin embargo, se piensa que fue probable que la parte más simple y antigua de la tradición cerámica siguiera produciéndose en comunidades pequeñas y dispersas post-Casas Grandes. Tales comunidades han sido invisibles en estudios de superficie, y los pocos tiestos que se ven en superficie son tipos utilitarios del periodo Medio. Esta situación ha llevado a suponer que la región de Casas Grandes fue abandonada después de la caída del centro principal. Ahora parece posible que esta creencia popular sea incorrecta.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2012

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