Political Landscapes Of Late Prehispanic Sonora: A View From The Moctezuma Valley
AuthorPailes, Matthew Collin
AdvisorFish, Paul R.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation offers a reformulation of social organization in eastern Sonora from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries based on survey and excavation data collected in the Moctezuma Valley, Sonora, Mexico. Prior researchers, utilizing Spanish exploration era documents, argued for the presence of territorial polities that controlled large sections of river valleys with an elite class supported by the management of long distance trade. Previous archaeological research demonstrated hierarchy in settlement patterns, but differed in interpretations regarding the methods of "elite" ascendance. This dissertation addresses questions of both the scale of political organization and its likely underpinnings. Multiple data sets including artifact style boundaries, settlement pattern analysis, and consideration of ecological parameters demonstrate political organization rarely reached beyond local sections of river valleys. This suggests dozens of locally autonomous settlement communities were present in an area previously argued to contain less than ten political units. Additionally, application of a diverse set of provenance techniques facilitated testing previous hypothesis regarding exchange in the region. The character of regional exchange systems appears to be mostly through down-the-line acquisition, likely orchestrated by aspirant leaders at the level of local settlement communities. These interactions rarely reached beyond near neighbors and excluded some immediately adjacent settlement communities. In contrast, the exchange of mundane ceramics crossed these same boundaries, indicating different segments of society forged incongruous social networks. In summary, these data suggest the region would be a very poor conduit for long distance exchange, most aspirant leaders had only limited access to social valuables, and that the social landscape was sufficiently volatile that most households sought exterior ties as a means of risk reduction. Local warfare in conjunction with demographic and ecological factors are argued to play the predominant roles in generating the political landscape of eastern Sonora. Overall, small scales of political consolidation and minimal hierarchical control characterized the broader region.
Degree ProgramGraduate College