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Forging identities through style :
b elite interaction and identity formation at Late Classic (AD 650-900) Palmarejo, Northwest Honduras
h [electronic resource] /
by Claire Novotny.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: The representation of social affiliation is dependent upon material signifiers that can serve as communicative links between individuals or communities. This study evaluates the material manifestation of an elite social identity during the Late Classic (AD 650-900) period at the site of Palmarejo, northwest Honduras. Previous studies on social identity in prehistory point to the importance of site plans, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials in conveying sociocultural messages. A regional comparison of these types of data is made between Palmarejo and three coeval sites in northwest Honduras, La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas. I argue that the chosen style of site plans, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials worked to convey different types of messages to specific populations. Patterns revealed by the regional comparison indicate that paramounts were able to access a common affiliation while maintaining localized distinctiveness. Finally, I argue that Palmarejo elites may have utilized a common regional belief system to reinforce their power and authority during the Late Classic.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Advisor: Karla L. Davis-Salazar, Ph.D.
x Applied Anthropology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Forging Identities through Style: Elite Interac tion and Identity Formation at Late Classic (AD 650-900) Palmarejo, Northwest Honduras by Claire Novotny A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Karla L. Davis-Salazar, Ph.D. E. Christian Wells, Ph.D. Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 10, 2007 Keywords: Mesoamerica, archaeology, affiliation, social status Copyright 2007, Claire Novotny
For my Mother, who inspired my initial intere st in archaeology, and continues to inspire me with her strength of character.
Acknowledgements The completion of this thesis would not have been possible without the support of a number of people. I would lik e to thank my committee, Karla L. Davis-Salazar, E. Christian Wells, and Thomas J. Pluckhahn fo r providing helpful feedback in a short period of time. Karla deserves special recogni tion for always having time to read another chapter, and for being a particularly insi ghtful mentor. My involvement in southeast Mesoamerican archaeology would not have been possible without the generosity and guidance of Patricia A. Urba n and Edward M. Schortman. This research was performed under the supervision of the Palmarejo Community Archaeological Project (PACP), directed by E. Christian Wells Karla L. Davis-Salazar, and Jos E. Moreno-Corts, which is funded by the National Geogr aphic Society, the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, and va rious granting agencies at the University of South Florida. Jos E. Moreno-Corts, James R. Hawken, William Klinger and Zaida Darley have all contributed not only important insights and data to this thesis, but also proved to be supportive friends in the field as well as in the lab. Two seasons worth of undergraduate field school st udents working with PACP we re instrumental in the completion of this research, as were seve ral dedicated Honduran field crews. Most importantly, I am eternally grateful to Anna who is always confident in my abilities, even when I am not. As a colleague sh e has provided productive criticism and illuminating discussions. As a sister and friend she has been understanding and compassionate. Heres to many more year s of adventures and collaborations.
i Table of Contents List of Figures....................................................................................................................iii Abstract....................................................................................................................... .......vi Chapter 1. Introduction........................................................................................................ 1 An Elite Interaction Sphere: The Naco Valley........................................................2 Study Area: Palmarejo.............................................................................................7 Organization of the Thesis.......................................................................................8 Chapter 2. Theoretical Framework....................................................................................12 Theorizing Social Identity and Ethnicity...............................................................13 Meaning, Style, and Messages...............................................................................18 Operationalizing Identity: Archaeological Examples............................................21 Summary................................................................................................................30 Chapter 3. Exploring Elite Style and Iden tity in the Late Classic (AD 650-900) Naco Valley, Northwest Honduras....................................................................................35 Landscape and Environment..................................................................................37 The Naco Valley in Cultural-Historical Perspective.............................................38 La Sierra.....................................................................................................40 El Coyote...................................................................................................47 Las Canoas.................................................................................................58 Expectations...........................................................................................................65 Summary................................................................................................................67 Chapter 4. Excavation and Laboratory Met hods for Evaluating Elite Identity Formation at Palmarejo......................................................................................................69 Excavation and Notational Procedures..................................................................76 Laboratory Methods...............................................................................................83 Osteological Methods............................................................................................84 Soil Chemistry Methods........................................................................................85 Summary................................................................................................................86 Chapter 5. Archaeological Evidence fo r Elite Identity Formation at Palmarejo...................................................................................................................... .....87 Excavations............................................................................................................87 The Main Group.........................................................................................87 Structure 20....................................................................................90 Structure 29....................................................................................95 Artificial Terraces......................................................................................97 Structure 93....................................................................................99
ii The Southeast Elite Residential Zone......................................................100 Structure 5....................................................................................101 The Northeast Elite Residential Zone......................................................104 Structure 54..................................................................................105 Patio Excavations.........................................................................108 Structure 60..................................................................................109 Structure 55..................................................................................111 Soil Chemistry Results.........................................................................................113 Burial Data...........................................................................................................115 Summary..............................................................................................................120 Chapter 6. Discussion: Elite Identity Fo rmation at Late Classic (AD 650-900) Palmarejo...................................................................................................................... ...125 Summary..............................................................................................................141 Chapter 7: Conclusion......................................................................................................143 References Cited..............................................................................................................1 48
iii List of Figures Figure 1. Map of Northwest Honduras, showing regional sites and those discussed in this study (modi fied from Wells 2003:7)........................................................7 Figure 2. La Sierra, showing the monument al architecture of the civic center and the craft workshops (from Wells 2003:59). ...............................................................41 Figure 3. Map of the Lower Cacaulapa Va lley showing the site of El Coyote and smaller surrounding sites (from Wells 2003:71).........................................................48 Figure 4. El Coyote site center, showi ng the Main Plaza, elite residential patios, and ball court (from Wells 2003)...........................................................................50 Figure 5. El Coyote site cen ter. Circled areas indi cate where the burials discussed in the text were recovered the southwestern residential zone and the northeast causeway (modified from Wells 2003).................................................53 Figure 6. Structure 138, northeastern cau seway leading into El Coyotes Main Plaza. The two skull caches are located east of the stairway and indicated by an arro w (from Wells 2003)..........................................................................54 Figure 7. Plan view of the two cysts containing commingl ed individuals from Structure 38 (from Wells 2003:199).........................................................................55 Figure 8. Dental modification of a left maxillary incisor recovered from Burial 26B/025. Dental modi fication is believed to indicate self-ascribed social identity in Mesoamerica..........................................................................................56 Figure 9. Map of Las Canoas (Stockett 2005:6)................................................................59 Figure 10. Anthropomorphic figurine mold recovered from Las Canoas, indicating local production of a regional style...................................................................61 Figure 11. Stamp recovered from Las Canoas depicting terraced hills.............................62 Figure 12. Map of the Palmarejo Valley detailing the site classification system (from Wells et al. 2004).........................................................................................70 Figure 13. Map of the Palmarejo site cen ter, including the Main Group and two elite residential neighborhoods (m odified from Wells et al. 2004)............................73 Figure 14. Map of soil sample locations in the Main Group and Southeast Group plazas (modified from Wells et al. 2007). .............................................................82
iv Figure 15. Map indicating structures that have been excavated at Palmarejo (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)........................................................................89 Figure 16. Map indicating structures ex cavated in the Main Group during the 2005 season (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)............................................................................90 Figure 17. Soil matrix from the summit of Structure 20, showing the fill, Spondylus fragment and layers of burned earth (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005).................................................................................................92 Figure 18. Plan drawing of the altar feature encountered on the summit of Structure 20 (Davis -Salazar et al. 2005)........................................................................94 Figure 19. Map indicating the excavated portions of Structure 93 and associated test pits (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)..........................................98 Figure 20. Map indicating the excavated portions of Structure 5 and associated plaza test pits (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)..............................100 Figure 21. Plan drawing of the summit of Structure 5, showing Features 1-5 (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)...............................................................................................103 Figure 22. Map indicating excavations conducted in the Northeast Group (Wells et al. 2006)............................................................................................................ 105 Figure 23. Plan drawing of the sum mit architecture of Structure 54 (Wells et al. 2006)............................................................................................................ 107 Figure 24. Plan drawing of the sum mit architecture of Structure 60. (Wells et al. 2006)............................................................................................................ 110 Figure 25. Plan drawing of uncovered summit architecture of Structure 55, including two possible bench features. (Wells et al. 2006)............................................................................................................113 Figure 26. Kriged results of the soil analysis from the South plaza and Southeast patio, showing the distri bution of P over the two spaces (modified from Wells et al. 2007)....................................................................................115 Figure 27. Burial #1 recovered from Structure 60 at Palmarejo. (Wells et al. 2006)............................................................................................................118 Figure 28. Burial # 4 from Structure 93 at Palmarejo. (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)...............................................................................................120
v Figure 29. Las Canoas Main Plaza (S tockett 2005) and Palmarejo Main Group (modified from DavisSalazar et al. 2005) showing a similar rectilinear form....................................................................................................130 Figure 30. Northeast and Southeast Groups at Palmarejo (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005)................................................................................................132 Figure 31. Monkey, bird, and turtle ocarinas recovered from the Northeast Group. (Wells et al. 2006)...............................................................................135 Figure 32. Napoleon Hat figurines recovered from the Northeast Group. (Wells et al. 2006)................................................................................................135 Figure 33. Example of an undecorated candelero recovered from the Northeast Group. (Wells et al. 2006)...............................................................................135
vi Forging Social Identities thr ough Style: Elite Interaction and Identity Formation at Late Classic (AD 650-900) Palmarejo, Northwest Honduras Claire Novotny ABSTRACT The representation of social affiliation is dependent upon material signifiers that can serve as communicative links between individuals or communities. This study evaluates the material manifestation of an elite social identity during the Late Classic (AD 650-900) period at the site of Palmarej o, northwest Honduras. Previous studies on social identity in prehistory point to the importance of site plans, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials in conveying sociocultural messages. A regional comparison of these t ypes of data is made between Palmarejo and three coeval sites in northwest Honduras, La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas. I argue that the chosen style of site plans, monumental architecture, cerami cs, and human burials worked to convey different types of messages to sp ecific populations. Patterns revealed by the regional comparison indicate that paramount s were able to access a common affiliation while maintaining localized distinctiveness. Finally, I argue that Palmarejo elites may have utilized a common regional belief syst em to reinforce their power and authority during the Late Classic.
1 Chapter 1: Introduction This thesis explores the manifestation of elite social identity at the Late Classic (AD 650-900) site of Palmarejo, northwester n Honduras. Specifical ly, it compares the ways in which identity was created and ma terially expressed among the inhabitants of Palmarejo and elite groups residing in co mmunities throughout the Naco region. I argue that the integration of local and regional social identities ma y have been a key factor in strengthening and maintaining elite power during the Late Classic. This has important implications for understanding elite use of style as a method of affiliation at the community level. The goals of this thesis are: 1) to consider how and why social identity is linked to material culture, 2) to docu ment how this is manifested between rural communities in a specific regi on, and 3) to evaluate this anthropological issue using an archaeological dataset. This thesis evaluates the archaeologi cal dataset from Palmarejo, employing a body of anthropological theory that emphasizes identity formation at the community level and the stylistic representation of identity. Theo retical models that explore identity in the archaeological record indicate that affiliation is signaled materially through site planning techniques, architecture, ceramics, and hu man interments (e.g., Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Hegmon 1992; Plog 1992; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Schortman et al. 2001; Stockett 2005). I examine these lines of evid ence at three settlements in northwestern Honduras, La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas, in order to set up expectations as to how elite identity may have been styled at Palmarejo. While there are regional patterns displayed in each of these lines of evidence, there is also variation in styles between sites.
2 For example, preliminary data suggest an inconsistency at Palmarejo between architectural style, which is congruent with regional patterns, a nd ceramic styles and mortuary practices, which appear to be unique to the Palmarejo Valley. Forging a social identity that was expressed through both regi onal and local styles co uld have facilitated elite sociopolitical control during the Late Classic. Most archaeological studies of social identity are characterized by broad interpretations of large, state-level politie s (for example, Teotihuacan and Maya citystates [Braswell 2003], as well as many exampl es concerning the formation of modern ethnicities and the nation-state [e.g., DiazAndreu 1996; Shore 1996]). One of the goals of this study is to evaluate social identity in a community that is separate from a statelevel sociopolitical system. This will expa nd our knowledge of the complex nature of rural communities. Palmarejo is well suited for a study of social id entity and regional interaction because it is a ru ral community situated within the known interaction sphere of the Naco Valley. An Elite Interaction Sphere: The Naco Valley In the prehispanic period, fertile agricultural land, abundant water sources, and a variety of naturally occurri ng plant and animal species dr ew people to the Naco Valley region beginning as early as 1000 BC (News on 1986; Urban 1986). Though references to the Naco Valley can be found in the acc ounts of early Spanish explorers (e.g., Chamberlain 1953; Cortes 1971), most of what we know about the pre-history of the Naco region comes from archaeological inve stigations, which were initiated during the 1970s (Henderson 1979; Henderson et al. 1979; Schortman and Urban 1986). Full
3 coverage surveys conducted in the valley have recorded 369 sites with 1,200 surfacevisible structures, which evince the substantia l 1,500 year prehistory of the region (DavisSalazar et al. 2005; Henderson 1979; Henders on et al. 1979; Schortman and Urban 1986; Urban 1986; Wells 2006). Southeastern Mesoamerica has historically been defined as a peripheral frontier zone, overshadowed by its powerful Maya ne ighbors to the nort hwest (Figure 1.) (Schortman and Urban 1986). Recent research in the region has demonstrated that there was considerable social, political, and ec onomic complexity among the communities of northwestern Honduras (Ellison 2006; Novot ny and Wells 2006; Schortman and Urban, 2001; Stockett 2005; Urban and Schortman 1994) The material record of northwest Honduras indicates that these complex system s emerged from centuries of social and economic interactions between local groups, as well as with external Mesoamerican populations. The Naco Valley occupies a strategic lo cation in northwestern Honduras. The Ro Chamelecn creates a natural route from the mountains surrounding th e Maya settlement of Copn, southwest of Naco, to the Naco Valley and northwards to the Sula plain and the Caribbean. This connection greatly facilitated trade a nd commerce between regional elites and Mesoamerican groups. Regional trade is indicated by the presence of specific styles of polychrome pottery, obsidian, marine shell, and jade (Henderson 1979, Schortman and Urban 1994). The occurrence of these types of artifacts at Palmarejo suggests that elites residing there were conn ected not only to othe r communities within the Naco Valley, but also to a wider south east Mesoamerican interaction sphere (i.e.,
northwest Honduras and certain areas of th e Maya zone, including Belize and eastern Guatemala). Gulf of HondurasCERROPALENQUE LA SIERRA Lake YojoaU l u a R i v e rC h a m e l e co n R i v e rTRAVESIA PALMAREJO EL COYOTE Naco Valley LAS CANOAS Ulua Valley N Kilometers0 25 50 Mesoamerica Figure 1. Map of Northwest Honduras, indicating regional sites and those discussed in this study (modified from Wells 2003:7). Assessing elite culture is important for southeastern Mesoamerica because it can lend insights into the social and political organization of communities during the Late Classic. Specifically, defining elite culture incl udes addressing issues of power, control, social stratification, and ra nking (Chase and Chase 1992; Henderson 1992). Since this study is focused on elite identity and intera ctions, an introduction of accepted material correlates of a Naco Valley elite population is necessary. In Mesoamerica, elites are traditionally identified in the material record by their access to imported or finely crafted goods, th e construction of monumental residences, 4
5 and elaborate burial patterns (Blanton 1978; Coe 1975; Rathje 1970; Tourtellot and Sabloff 1972). Chase and Chase (1992) poi nt out that these correlates are often automatically assumed by archaeologists and do not hold true for every site. They argue that it is extremely problematical to disc riminate between a noble and a commoner, for the status and roles available to each group cr oss-cut one another and it is probable that similar goods were also available to at leas t certain members of each group (Chase and Chase1992:8). Their argument is well taken; it is a valuab le exercise to question our blanket assumption that Mesoamerican societie s were only organized into two tiers: elite and non-elite. Research in southeastern Meso america alone demonstrates that prehistoric societies were indeed more varied than a tw o-tiered model allows (Schortman and Urban 1994; Stockett 2005). However, in the archaeological record we still find unique, exotic, or specialized items distributed among buildings requiring more labor to construct than others, arranged around open plaza spaces with limited access. Gi ven the high energy expenditure of construction, transportation, cultivation, and specialization during prehis tory, I think it is reasonable to relate some of these material signatures to a more powerful, certainly wealthier, population. I agree with Chase and Chase (1992) that items valued as elite goods could differ from region to region, and fo r this reason I will specify what previous researchers have considered to be indicat ors of elite status in the Naco region. Schortman et al. (2001) define power as the ability to control the actions of others. It is assumed that those in power (i.e., elites) were able to control the labor required to gather resources and construct m onumental architecture. Thus, the presence
6 of monumental civic, ceremoni al, and residential structures within a community is indicative of elite control of the local labor force. The ability to acquire exotic goods over long distances is one common characteristic possessed by elit e populations. The assumption is that elites would have had sufficient control over local resources with which to trade for preciosities from remote locations. For the purposes of this study, artifacts proven to originate in other regional or extra-regional locations include Spondylus shells, jade, and marble vessels (Henderson 1992; Schortman et al. 2001; Luke and Tykot 2002). In addition, there are certain identifiable styles of polychrome cer amic plates and vessels that have been demonstrated to originate in the Nac o, Ula, and Copn valleys (Henderson 1992; Schortman and Urban 1994). The presence of thes e artifacts in archae ological contexts suggests that the inhabitants of the location were of elite st atus. Obsidian, while also a long-distance trade item from Guatemala, is found in assemblages recovered from most social strata in Mesoamerica and does not immediately identify a location as elite. However, when found in certain contexts and qualities, elite contro l over obsidian trade could be inferred. If certain buildings or locations within a community contain these objects, then they could be inte rpreted as elite domains. It is assumed that these material belongings signify the abstract tenets of high social ra nk, i.e., power and authority. Previous research in southeastern Meso america indicates that elite power was garnered from control over craft production and trade (Schortman and Urban 1994; Schortman et al. 2001; Wells 2003). It has been argued that the ability to access distant resources was a significant source of so cial power for elites in the Naco region (Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Wells 2003). While an in-depth analysis of the
7 repercussions of trade and craft production on the soci opolitical organization of Palmarejo is unfortunately be yond the scope of this study, inve stigating elite identity and interaction through material residues adds to discussions of social power by analyzing the ways in which elites might have manipulated the stylistic qualities of both imported and locally produced goods. The elite segment of the Naco Valley is us ed for the purposes of this study for two main reasons: 1) in general, residues of elite materials (i.e., monumental stone residences and temples, jade) tend to preserve in the archaeological record for longer than those signifying non-elites, and 2) elite ability to conduct long-distance trade enables archaeologists to trace intera ctions between elite populati ons. The distinctiveness of nonlocal goods also affords an opportunity to analyz e the style of elite material culture, and to evaluate it in terms of a social identit y. Excavations in the N aco Valley have provided a more than adequate sample of elite-associ ated materiality. These examples will be analyzed and compared with the data from Pa lmarejo in order to in vestigate how and why elite identity was manifested there during the Late Classic. Study Area: Palmarejo The Palmarejo Valley is located along the base of the hills that flank the Naco Valley, and is divided between the present day Honduran departments of Santa Brbara to the south and Corts to the north. Palmarejo is separated from the wider Naco Valley by a ridge of hills creating a geographically is olated pocket. The valley includes a series of seasonal streams, soils conducive to intens ive agriculture, as well as sources of clay, perlite, and building materials (Hawken 2007; Verdaasdonk 2007; Wells et al. 2004).
8 These natural resources made the Palmarejo Vall ey an ideal place to settle in prehispanic times. Indeed, the Palmarejo zone meets every important prerequisite for site establishment in the Naco Valley as expr essed by Urban (1986:672), including close proximity to water, stone, and agricultural land. Palmarejo is the largest settlement in the Palmarejo Valley, which includes 96 smaller sites dispersed according to res ource zones throughout the valley (Hawken 2007; Wells et al. 2004). Palmarejo is composed of 93 surface visible structures, including 15 monumental buildings (over 1.5 m in height several over 3 m), two elite residential groups, two formal plazas, and a ba ll court. It is suggested th at Palmarejo elites were in political and economic control of this entire valley during the Late Cl assic (Wells et al. 2004). Preliminary investigations conducte d by the Proyecto Arqueolgico Comunidad Palmarejo (PACP) under the direction of E. Christian Wells and Karla L. Davis-Salazar in 2004, immediately raised questions as to Palmarejos economic, sociopolitical, and cultural connections with the regional sites of La Sierra, El Coyot e, and Las Canoas. Organization of the Thesis This chapter has provided an introduction to the goals of this thesis and has given a brief outline of the study area. Chapte r 2 provides a theoretical framework for evaluating style and social identity in the ar chaeological record. This chapter begins with a review and anthropological assessment of the concepts of social id entity and ethnicity. The material expression of identity is disc ussed within the context of debates among anthropological archaeologists over meaning and the interpre tation of style. I draw on
9 other archaeological examples that address social identity and stylistic choice in prehistory. I consider style and stylistic choice to be stylistic tool s deployed for creating and maintaining social identities. Thus, I take a communicative (Wobst 1977) and emblemic/assertive (Weissner 1983, 1985) approach to assessing the style of material culture. I argue that site pl anning techniques, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human interments convey meaning and messages through their stylistic qualities. An important part of assessing elite st yle at Palmarejo th rough a communicative and emblemic/assertive approach is establishi ng the sociohistorical c ontext in which elite style is expressed, in this case the Late Cl assic Naco Valley. In Chapter 3, I provide a description of the natural, cult ural, and historical environmen ts of the Late Classic Naco Valley. In particular, I establish elite manifestations of social identity through an analysis of regional research performed at the sites of La Sierra, Las Canoas, and El Coyote. Based on the identification in Chapter 2 of site planning techniques, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human interments as important signifiers of elite identity, I analyze these lines of evidence at La Sierra El Coyote, and Las Canoas. This provides a set of expectations with which to compare the data from Palmarejo. In Chapter 4, I outline the excavation and laboratory methods employed to evaluate the ways in which Palmarejo elites chose to express thei r social identity. I present a more detailed natural and cultu re-historical background for the Palmarejo Valley, followed by a description of the archaeological methods used in this study. In Chapter 5, I present data collect ed from the 2005 and 2006 excavations at Palmarejo using the methods described in Chapter 4. Survey observations add
10 information on site planning, while excavations of the Palmarejo ar chitecture contribute construction and occupation histories of the structures, as well as stylistic features indicative of social identification. In addition, preliminary ceramic analysis is central in beginning to understand regional trade relationships between elites. Analysis of the skeletons recovered from Palmarejo supplies further insights into the ways in which social identity was constructed. I synthesize the Palmarejo dataset in Chapter 6. I interpret the site plan, architecture, artifacts, and human burials recovered from Palmar ejo, and contextualize these data with a comparison to the regional styles described in Chapter 3. This synthesis serves to illuminate Palmarejos identifi cation with a southeast Mesoamerican elite interaction sphere, as well as elite activi ties and social life within Palmarejo. Concluding comments and modern impli cations are given in Chapter 7. I summarize my argument that distinctive qualitie s were embedded in the regional styles of community plans, architecture, ceramics, a nd human burials in the Naco region. I argue that this common identity could have fac ilitated intercommunity sociopolitical and economic interactions, while local styles may have worked to consolidate elite authority at each settlement. These findings have impor tant implications for evaluating the means by which elites garnered and maintained power in hierarchical societies. Finally, I consider the ways that archaeol ogical studies of social identity can be applied to modern societies. Issues of soci al identity and ethnicity are pertinent in the lives of contemporary Palmarejo residents. As the impacts of globalization extend themselves into rural communities, historical ascriptions of social identity are challenged. I discuss the relationship between cultural resources and modern communities in the
11 Palmarejo Valley, and how that might affect social affiliation. Broadly speaking, the topics covered in this study (i .e., elites, power, social ident ity, ethnicity) are elemental to understanding human societies and thus ar e important issues for anthropological investigation, both in prehistory and the modern world.
12 Chapter 2: Theoretical Framework Social identity has remained a central th eme in anthropological research, both through time and across subfields. While social identity is wi dely acknowledged to be an integral component of any culture (Barth 1969; Canuto and Yaeger 2001; DeMarrais et al. 1996; Jones 1996, 1997; Hodder 1982, 1986, 1989; Shennan 1989; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Stockett 2005), its meaning to and expression by any particular group is difficult to evaluate. Assessing how people expr essed their identity, and with whom they chose to affiliate themselves, is especial ly problematic for archaeologists. How can archaeologists tangibly identify something as immaterial and varying as identity? Can we presume to understand how past peoples mi ght have defined themselves and their societies? I would argue that archaeology can be instrumental in evaluating questions of identity formation. Indeed, there is a grow ing body of literature that demonstrates the feasibility of inferring identi ty from archaeological datase ts (Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Daz-Andreu et al. 2005; Hodder 1986; J ones 1996, 1997; Shennan 1989; Stocket 2005). Specifically, these authors argue that if one of the objectives of affiliation is to set oneself apart from others, then material markers woul d be essential for the outward expression of social identity. This material expression can ta ke a variety of forms, and the interpretation of these forms relies on demonstrating the conne ctions between the artif act, its style, and the expressed social identity made salient by the chosen style.
13 Theorizing Social Identity and Ethnicity Archaeological research has become increasingly intent on investigating the individual in prehistory. Studies focusing on individual practice and agency were instrumental in shaping the way that archaeo logists currently conceive of and interpret identity (Hodder 1982, 1986, 1989; Conkey 1982; Gero and Conkey 1991; Hastorf 1991; Shanks and Tilley 1987). Stemming from th e post-processual critique of the 1980s, researchers sought to move away from static interpretations of cultural evolution (e.g., Fried 1967; Service 1962, 1971), towards dynami c explanations focusing on the varied roles different individuals played in shaping their socie ties (Hastorf 1991; Hodder and Cessford 2004; Leone et al. 2005; Leone a nd Potter 1984; McAnany 1995). Many ideas on identity and ethnicity draw primarily fr om the work of Frederik Barth (1969). Barths (1969) seminal study on ethnic ity altered the assumptions that anthropologists made regarding cultural differe nces. By re-evaluating the dominant idea that cultural differences occu r only under conditions of isolationism, he argued that ethnic boundaries and distinctions could persist within a contex t of cultural interaction. In fact, Barth (1969:10) suggested that social interaction and acceptance were often the very foundations on which embracing social sy stems are builtcultural differences can persist despite inter-ethnic contact and inte rdependence. The most significant aspect of Barths model is his separation of ethnicity from culture. Barth (1969) views culture as the most problematic component of previous definitions of ethnicity. By equating the two concepts, ethnic groups can only be distinguished by the morphological characterist ics of the culture to which they belong. This is limiting, Barth (1969:12) argues, because culture can change and hence exhibit
14 different characteristics over time. Barth ( 1969:13-14) sees ethnicit y from a categorical perspective, such that ethnicity is ascribed when it classifies a person in terms of his basic, most general identity, presumptivel y determined by his origin and background. Hence, ethnic groups are organized in order to distinguish between different actors for purposes of interaction. It follows that signals or signs would be established by groups to distinguish themselves from others, and social boundaries would be realized and maintained. Social boundaries are set by interacti ons of any kind between ethnic groups, through which accepted requirements signaling inclusion and exclusion are established. Ethnic group interactions provi de the crux of Barths argumen t that cultural differences are fostered, and not hindere d, by social interactions. He suggests that where different groups interact, cultural differences would have to be reduced, since communication would necessitate either a common unders tanding of cultural norms, or a newly conceived set of agreed upon norms. Thus the persistence of ethnic groups in contact implies not only criteria and signa ls for identification, but also a structuring of interaction which allows the persistence of cultural differences (Barth 1969:16). Barths model of social interaction emphasized the fluid nature of culture and defined ethnicity as a selfascribed category of identity. These points gr eatly influenced late r anthropologists and archaeologists working on problems of ethni city and identity (Barth 1969; Canuto and Yaeger 2001; Daz-Andreu and Lucy 2005; Hodder, 1986; Jones 1996, 1997; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Shennan 1989; Stocket 2005) Instrumental in further advancing the study of these concepts were Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens, who also
15 emphasized the flexibility of culture and a dded the individual actor to the equation of cultural transformation. Bourdieu (1977) and Giddens (1984) proposed that society does not operate in a realm apart from the people who constitute it; individual actions and practices articulate with societal norms and exp ectations to derive, as well as transform, society (DazAndreu and Lucy 2005). Giddens (1984) argued th at people are aware of societys norms and are active participants in manipulating social structures. T hus, people and society have a recursive relationship, alternately ch anging and influencing each other. Giddens (1984:258) describes power as be ing structured by the conjunction of certain types of allocative and authoritative re sources. In terms of archaeology, artifacts are considered produced goods (Giddens 1984:258), or, the intersection of raw materials with the organization of social time-space (Giddens 1984:258). In short, material products are defined by their sociohistorical contexts, a nd can be manipulated by people in order to build and maintain power structures. Giddens work is relevant for this study, which examines the ways in which elites (i.e., thos e in power) construct so cial identities using material culture as media. Bourdieu (1977) also shaped the way th at archaeologists came to think about individuality and identity. He used the term habitus to describe peoples understanding of how the world operates, an understanding th at was not based on explicit rules, but on principles that governed practi ce. It is through practice that the individual moves, acts, lives (Daz-Andreu and Lucy 2005:5). These ideas infused research with the idea of agency, which assumes that individuals ma ke choices and perform actions under their own abilities, though not complete ly separate from the expectations of their society.
16 Practice theory has been readily adopted by so me archaeologists, who argue that it can be used to elicit meaning from prehistoric remains (Hodder 1982, 1986; Hodder and Cessford 2004; Stockett 2005; Canuto and Yaeger 2001). Ian Hodder was one of the first to apply Bourdieus (1977) ideas to archaeological datasets. Hodder (1982) argued th at archaeological remains concomitantly structured, and were structured by, social practice. Practi ces take place even on quotidian levels of society; day-to-day efforts of produc tion, consumption, and exchange produce relationships between people that involve materi al correlates. In this way, While people are reproducing the material conditions of th eir lives, they are both reproducing their society and their personal and group identitie s (Daz-Andreu and Lucy 2005:6). As the individual was increasingly ac knowledged in interpretations of prehistory, issues of identity and ethnicity rose to the forefront of archaeological researc h, along with attempts to recognize meaning in the material record. Extrapolating the individual from the archaeological record remains an arduous task, but is nevertheless embraced by post-pr ocessual archaeologists (Canuto and Yaeger 2001; Daz-Andreu et al. 2005; Hodder 1986; Jones 1996, 1997; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Shennan 1989; Stocket 2005). Advocated by Hodder ( 1986:13), the role of the individual became central to societal change. Instead of viewing material culture to a passive by-product of human behavior, the emphasis was on the active individual and his or her role in creating society thr ough actions. Material culture does not just exist. It is made by someone It is produced to do some thing. Therefore it does not passively reflect society rather, it cr eates society through the act ions of individuals (Hodder 1986:6). Interestingly, in order to ev aluate his theoretical ideas, Hodder used
17 ethnographic and ethnoarchaeological approa ches, both of which were pioneered by processual archaeologists. Integral to Hodders approach was the c ontext of material culture, which gave artifacts their meaning. Artifacts were not just functional object s but the material manifestation of a cultural meaning that can on ly be interpreted give n its specific context. Hodder (1986:9) fused the use of material culture with th e concept of agency, which allowed for individuals to manipulate mate rial culture as a resource and as a sign system in order to transform society. Placing the individual at the center of culture change al so allowed for meaningful insights into ethnicity and identity. Following their views on individual action, postprocessual archaeologists see ethnicity as a self-ascribed identity that is shaped principally by shared origins (Hasto rf and Conkey 1991; Hodder 1986). In addition, ethnicity is seen as one aspect of social identity, and woul d have been expressed through social interactions between distinct, self-defined groups (Hodder 1982, 1986, 1989; Shennan 1989; Jones 1996, 1997; Lucy 2005). One task of the archaeologist is to move from abstract ideas and theories to recognizing these themes in the archaeologi cal residues of prehistory. Archaeologists need to find material correlates in order to infer human behavior fr om the archaeological record. One method that has been devised to st udy issues of identity is to analyze the style and spatial patterning of artifacts, with the assumption that chosen stylistic variables are associated with certain aspects of social identity. In the next se ction, the debate over the use and purpose of style, and how mean ing may be conveyed through material culture, will be discusse d in greater detail.
18 Meaning, Style, and Messages As archaeologists began paying greater attention to the contextual meaning behind material culture, the i ssue of stylistic meaning among artifacts arose. H. Martin Wobst (1977:320) acknowledged that the study of style variation in archaeological research lacked meaning, despite the human sp ecies exceptional abil ity to interact and exchange information through the medium of symbols. Wobst (1977:321) defined style as that part of the formal variability in material culture that can be related to the participation of artifacts in processes of information-ex change. In this model, information exchange included all interactions in which messages were sent (emission) or received (reception). Messages can take the form of both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. For Wobst, sending messages (emission) was equated with artifact use and production, and reception of the message was defined as access to that artifact. Information exchange also required that me ssages be visible to the recipient. Using systems theory as its main approach, this m odel gave style a functi onal role in society. Wobsts (1977) model of information ex change through artifact style generated considerable dialog on the subj ects of identity, material culture, and styl e (Sackett 1982, 1985, 1986; Weissner 1983, 1985). He is most criticized for his functionalist approach, which relegates style to a passi ve position within culture sy stems. For example, Wobsts (1977) assertion that style must be visible is qualified by Hegmon and Jones (1992), who found that, the importance of visibility a nd social distance vari es with the kind of information transmitted stylistically. Material visible only in private is more likely to convey messages about ritual or belief syst ems, whereas highly visible material often indicates group or ethnic boundaries (H egmon 1992:521). Wobst never responded to
19 any reviews of his influentia l 1977 article, though his ideas about style and information exchange prompted a fruitful debate between Polly Weissner (1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1990) and James R. Sackett (1973, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1990). Style can take many forms, which nece ssitates varying explanatory frameworks with which to interpret it. The Weissner/Sackett debate is an acknowledgement of this reality, and demonstrates an effort to devel op explanations from different perspectives. Sackett (1982:72) argues that stylistic choices stem fr om the artisans, with emphasis on the functional end. These choices result in varian ts that are equal in use, which he calls isochrestic variation (Sackett 1982:73). According to Sacket t, choices are learned and socially constructed; therefore style reflects historical context and social interactions (Sackett 1985:115), but not cu ltural meanings. However, Sackett (1982:82) does not wholly reject Wobsts ideas about info rmation exchange (which he calls the iconological approach), acknowledging that in some contexts isochrestic variation may assume iconological cultural meanings (Sack ett 1985:158). In contrast to Sackett, Weissner (1983, 1985) emphasizes the iconographic aspect of style. Following Wobst (1977), Weissner (1983, 1985) argues that stylistic information can be an important strategy in social re lations. However, contrary to Wobst (1977), Weissner (1983, 1985) points out th at stylistic information need not be found solely in visible contexts, but that cer tain styles portrayed in nonpublic ways (or to a select audience) may convey important information in close social relations. This active view is embodied in her assertion that there are two aspects of st yle: emblemic and assertive (Weissner 1983). These distinctions are impor tant for this study, because they each
20 emphasize different manifestations of style, which could be associated with specific material residues at Palmarejo. Emblemic style is similar to Wobst s (1977) idea of st yle as information exchange. It refers to formal variation in mate rial culture that has a distinct referent and transmits a clear message to a defined target population about conscious affiliation or identityMost frequently its referent will be a social groupand thus it will be used to express objective social at tributes of identity (Weissner 1983:257). Alternatively, assertive style is a non-public expression of identity and does not have to be employed in the overt manner that emblemic style is. Formal variation in material culture which is personally based and which carries inform ation supporting individual identity has no distinct referent as it suppor ts, but does not directly symbolize, individual identity and may be employed either consciously or unconsciously (Weissner 1983:257). Weissner (1989) also points out that specific referent s for a chosen style are dependent on the context and conditions in wh ich the referents are socially constructed, for example, whether distinctiv e social units are r ecognized in society, or whether factors such as competition make it advantageous to send a clear stylistic message to a defined target population, and so on. Weissners mode l of stylistic variation is useful for archaeology, because it allows for a dynamic in terpretation of artifacts. By identifying two features of style, emblem ic and assertive, Weissner confers a particip atory role to material culture, while emphasi zing the context and conditions th at make style relevant at any given time. Despite the ongoing debates concerning the use and nature of style in the material record, most archaeologists and anthropologists take the viewpoi nt that style is an active
21 component of group definition (Hegmon 1992: 528). They also apply both Sacketts concept of isochrestic variati on and Weissners emblemic styl e to explain variations in social status, or change in society over time (e.g., Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Plog 1990; Pruecel 2001). The demonstration of style as a correlate for social identity has important implications for archaeological research. Equa ting stylistic variables with identity gives archaeologists an opportunity to investigate fundamental co mponents of human behavior. This has been demonstrated in a number of archaeological examples, which I explore in the next section (Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Pruecel 2001). These studies build on the theoretical viewpoints outlined above (Barth 1969; Hodder 1982; Weissner 1983, 1985; Wobst 1977) by inferring social identity from the stylistic qualities of several cl asses of artifacts. These arch aeological examples anchor the concept of social identity to the physi cal evidence of the material record. Operationalizing Identity: Archaeological Examples In order to investigate social identity archaeologically, site planning principles, architecture, ceramics, and human burials (or any combination of these four artifact classes) have been analyzed by scholars. E ach study discussed in this section provides insights into how stylistic choice contributes to the definition and maintenance of a social identity (e.g. Hodder 1982; Jones 1997; Shennan 1989; Weissner 1983, 1985; Wobst 1977). Hodder and Cessford (1994) point out the di fferent messages that material culture can convey, depending on the type of object used. Architecture creates and reinforces
22 identities differently than ot her types of material culture. While ceramics and burial styles may convey a more personal iden tity, architecture embeds certain specific meanings in society through the control of people and th eir encounters with the world around them (Hodder and Cessford 1994:74). Structures not only send symbolic messages, they are active participants in constructing society. Recent archaeological investig ations of the role of architecture and spatial order (Ashmore 1991, 2002; Houston 1998; Parker P earson and Richards 1994) argue that structures are both the medium and the outcome of social practices (Parker Pearson and Richards 1994:3). Preucels (2001) study of Puebloan communities in central New Mexico is an example of this perspective. Following a structuralist vi ewpoint and practice theory approach (Bourdieu 1977; Hodder 1982, 1986; Hodder and Cessford 1994), Preucel (2001:69) argues that the layout of Puebloan villages are not only responses to environmental consid erations; they also embody the values and beliefs of the people who constructed and lived in them. He (Preucel 2001) investigates the differential construction styles of two contemporaneous villages, which were built during a period of Puebloan revitalization exemplified by a revolt against Spanish dominance in the American Southwest. He argues that the construction of the plaza pueblo Kotyiti can be interpreted as an assertion of tradition. Using ethnographic examples, Pr eucel relates that the Keresan conceived of their world as a square with Houses at the four corner s which were inhabited by supernatural beings. Constructing these Houses made the landscape intelligible, safe and timeless (Preucel 2001:70). The Kotyiti pueblo was a planned co nstruction whose gate s are interpreted by Preucel as symbolic referents to the dwellings at the corner s of the earth. In addition, the
23 style of the buildings themselves is argued to symbolically suggest mountains and clouds. The buildings and their specific arrangement are meant to evoke a traditional Puebloan identity in opposition to Spanish threats (Pre ucel 2001). Thus, social as well as political identities are manifested through architecture. Ceramic artifacts are used for many differe nt interpretations. Their prevalence in the archaeological record lends important information concerni ng site chronologies, technological innovation, and stylistic vari ation (e.g., Culbert 1993; Rice 1984, 1987).In terms of identity, ceramic studies have focu sed on stylistic choice as an indicator of individual identity, or in some cases as re presentative of a regiona l affiliation, economic interaction spheres, or soci al status. While these studies incorporate several of the theoretical viewpoints descri bed above (Sackett 1982; Wei ssner 1983, 1985), researchers tend to interpret style as an information ex change on some level (following Wobst 1977; Weissner 1983, 1985). In Plogs (1992) study of American Southw est ceramic design, the author equates changes in ceramic style with differences in status. Plog interprets strongly co-varying designs on early decorated potte ry as representing isochres tic variation; they did not convey a social message (Sackett 1982). On late r types, more variability is observed in the designs, leading Plog to interpret them as symbolic, or emblemic (Weissner 1983) of the special status of the artifacts owners (Plog 1992). This study demonstrated that the diverse nature of stylistic c hoice (especially when it changes over time) can be explained by seemingly different theoretical views. Following Plog (1992), it may be necessary to employ different theoretical viewpoints (i.e., both Weissner and Sackett) in order to fully interpret the archaeological re cord at Palmarejo.
24 The expression of social group identity is the focus of Bartlett and McAnanys (2001) study of craft production among four Formative Period (800 BC-AD 250) sites located in present-day Belize. Similar to Plog (1992), Bartlett and McAnany (2001) investigate change in style over time, though th ey take a more singularly emblemic (i.e., iconographic) approach. During the Middle Form ative, ceramic vessels at the sites of Kaxob, Cuello, Colha, and Cerros show limited variability in style. A discernable shift takes place in the Late Formative, when distinct, community-based styles begin to emerge. Bartlett and McAnany (2001) corr elate this trend with the rise of institutionalized power in the Maya Lowlands and suggest that demonstrating social identity might have played an integral role in the negotia tion of status (Bartlett and McAnany 2001:117). They (Bartlett and McAna ny 2001) further argue that the presence of specific ceramic styles and forms in caches and burials indicates a strong association with place-making. The placement of community -style ceramic vessels in individual burials links individual iden tity to social identity. This argument has significant implications for Palmarejo and the Naco region, from which we have a relatively large sample of burials and an es tablished ceramic typology. Human interments, when accessible to ar chaeologists, can be indicators of individual and social identities (e.g., Binford 1971; Chapman 2003; Goldstein1980; Hodder 1980; OShea 1984; Parker Pearson 1982) The archaeological analysis of burial attributes, such as body position, inclusion of grave goods, and the spatial patterning of burials, is a unique opportunity for archaeologists to infer th e purposeful behavior of the prehistoric peoples they study.
25 In a seminal paper, Binford (1971) argued that important elements of the social persona could be seen in mortuary remains these elements included age, sex, social position, sub-group affiliation, cause of death, and location of death. He (Binford 1971:23) identified burial attributes as symbols of social identity and demonstrated that the form and structure which characteri ze mortuary practices are conditioned by the form and complexity of the organizational charac teristics of the society itself. Therefore, archaeologists can infer social structure and affiliation from mortuary remains. Hodder (1980) used the ethnographic exampl e of the Mesakin Nuba of Sudan to illustrate that burial patterns do not always reflect social patter ns among the living. The Mesakin Nuba idealized their funerary rituals, meaning th at a persons social standing could be distorted in death. Parker Pears on (1982) agreed that burial patterns do not necessarily directly reflect li fe, but furthered this idea by st ating that the dead can be manipulated by the living for their own interests. These critiques added living people as a variable in the enactment of mortuary pract ices. These arguments gave the living an active role in the design and pr actice of ritual activities such as mortuary practices, and placed the decision making process within wider economic and political contexts (Chapman 2003:309). This critique urges res earchers to put mortua ry analysis in an historical perspective. In addition, the criti que can also make accura te the application of cross-cultural ethnographic data to specific culture and period. If mortuary programs can be used to e xplore the societal relationships of the living, then we should be able to see sociopolit ical interactions refl ected in burial data. While this point has been argued by re searchers (Binford 1971; Chapman 2003; Goldstein 1980; Hodder 1980; OShea 1984; Parker Pearson 1982, 1999), using burial
26 data as an emblemic method of information exchange is obviously problematic. The most significant issue is that burials are buried how can they convey information when no living person can view them? Wobst (1977) required artifacts to be visible in order to convey social information. However, as mortuary analysis has become further integrated into archaeological research designs, researchers ha ve increasingly argued that burials contain important information concerning social and personal identity (Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Hegmon 1992; McAnany 1995). Human inte rments (and ceramic artifacts in certain instances) convey different messages th an other, more overt symbols of social identity (e.g., monumental architecture). As quoted above, Hegmon (1992:521) argues that privately viewed artifacts can relate info rmation about ritual or belief systems, while overtly visible materials are more likely to indicate group bou ndaries. Therefore, interpreting burial data adds a holistic quality to the inference of social identity by recognizing a more personal aspect of affiliation (i.e., belief systems) in addition to the explicit representations of group identity. As argued by McAnany (1995), human interments can have a practical application in establishing community and family identity. McAnany (1995:100) argues that Maya burial patterns i nvolving the ritual interments of the dead in their homes created a genealogy of place, empowering and symbolically rooting the family to the landscape. Linking ancestors to the earth benefited the living as an indicator of the enclosure of land into exclusionary tract s with inherited entitlements (McAnany 1995:65). Thus the maintenance of lineage iden tity through ritual placement of ancestors also worked in the favor of the living by le gitimizing land claims and hence accumulating
27 resources. McAnany (1995) uses this as a m odel for the development of social inequality in the Classic-period (AD 250-900) Maya lowla nds. In this example, identity cannot only be inferred from mortuary analysis, it is evid enced to be a motivating aspect of social change. However, by their largely indistingu ishable nature, human interments do convey more community-specific, personal, or religi ous messages than other forms of material culture (e.g., Hegmon 1992). Another study of social identity and elite power in Mesoamerica was conducted by Schortman and Nakamura (1991) in northwe stern Honduras. The authors argue that a specific identity was made salient in order to facilitate and encourage economic interactions between non-Maya a nd Maya elites. Special atten tion is devoted to this study because it situates issues of social identity and stylistic choice with in the sociohistorical context of Late Classic sout heastern Mesoamerica, which is the area of study for this thesis. Schortman and Nakamura (1991) set out to evaluate prehistoric economic and cultural interaction processes in southeaste rn Mesoamerica, specifically between the lower Motagua Valley in northeastern Guatem ala, and the La Venta and La Florida valleys of northwestern Honduras. Two issues ar e confronted in this study: what social entities are involved in inters ocietal contact, a nd how they overcome obstacles (such as language) that occur between groups. The authors (Schortman and Nakamura 1991:312, emphasis original) argue that intersocietal in teraction is carried out not by cultures but by factions within them. These factions deal with each other in terms of salient social identities mutually agreed upon, self-ascribed, cultu ral categories to which are attached
28 specific behavioral expectations . These behavioral expectati ons are manifested in easily visible material culture identifiers, such as style of dress or ornamentation. Schortman and Nakamura (1991) empl oy site planning principles and architectural data, as well as ceramic and lith ic assemblages as signals of an elite identity. These are used to demonstrate that during the Late Classic, non-Maya elites chose to make salient an elite identity through the cons truction of Maya-style architecture in order to control economic exchange. Following a si milar line of thought to Preucel (2001), Schortman and Nakamura (1991) demonstrate that non-Maya elites in northwestern Honduras utilized expressions of Maya elite architectural styles to signal a recognizable identity. Architecture is argued to be the visible referent th at would have held social meaning to elite Maya factions. Economic exchange can be observed in ceramic and lithic assemblages displaying imported exotic goods such as obsidian, jade, Spondylus and other marine shells, as well as finely made polychrome ceramic vessels (Schortman and Nakamura 1991:317). In this brief outline of their theoretical perspective, Schortman and Nakamura draw principally from the perspectives of Barth (1969), Wobst, (1977), and Weissner (1983). Following Barth (1969), they present in tersocietal interacti on as a communication that creates commonly agreed upon behaviors, and they identify social identity as a selfascribed category. Following Wobst (1977), communication is facilitated by readily visible stylistic cues that facilitate information exchange. Finally, following Weissner (1985), Schortman and Nakamura take an embl emic approach to the style of material culture. Specifically, material culture is employed to manifest a referent that is recognizable to all, which is emblematic of a particular social identity; in this case, an
29 elite identity marshaled in or der to control resources. Most importantly, Schortman and Nakamura (1991:312) hope to br ing identities from stati c features of the social landscape to the dynamics of their manipulati on. In this way thei r study builds on the theories presented above, which characterize identity, style, and meaning as active participants in the shaping of societies. The most notable departure taken by Sc hortman and Nakamura (1991) is their assertion that social affili ations are constructed around en counters focused on resources. They (Schortman and Nakamura 1991) ar gue that resource procurement plays a fundamental role in society a nd therefore brings people togeth er in predictable and agreed upon ways. Salient identities develop, therefore, as a means to an end and may exist on a local or interregional scale, depending on th e nature and distribution of the resources under contention (Schortman and Nakamura 1991:313). Archaeological manifestations of social identity include patterned associati ons of stylistic choices that reflect shared assumptions, values, and standards of iden tity holders (Schortman and Nakamura 1991:313). Style is sensitive to cultural change s and is defined by specific choices made by individuals hoping to express a certain social affiliation. Schortman and Nakamura (1991:326) conclude that the interaction systems extant during the Late Classic (Lowland Maya and lower Motagua, non-Maya), were defined by easily visible symbols related to proxem ic, social, and ideological assumptions, standards, and values of th e ruling elite. These patterns are interpreted as stylistic choices made to develop a salient elite iden tity, which would have restricted access to imported goods, and ensured elite control over economic exchange in the region (Schortman and Nakamura 1991:326).Their stud y provides a possible explanation of how
30 and why elites expressed a common identity in southeastern Mesoamerica during the Late Classic. The model set forth by Schortman and Nakamura is useful in that it is an example of how social identity can be demonstrated archaeologically within the sociohistorical context of southeastern Mesoam erica. However, as demonstrated in the previous sections, stylistic choice can take a myriad of forms, for many different reasons. Schortman and Nakamuras (1991) argument, though well taken, is somewhat limiting in the sense that elites are presented as motivated purel y by resource procurement. The authors (Schortman and Nakamura 1991:312) argue th at actors can select from a range of identities the one that best suits their need s at any given time, but they do not discuss what other identities these elite factions might have expressed. Other archaeological examples (Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Mc Anany 1995; Plog 1992; Stockett 2005) have utilized ceramic and burial data in order to di scuss more personal or ritualized aspects of social identity, which demonstrates that with additional information Schortman and Nakamuras (1991) model could be expa nded to include these types of data. Summary The issue of social identity has been d ealt with by a number of anthropologists, whose theories have been instrumental in explaining the diverse forms that human social identity can take (Barth 1969; Canuto and Yaeger 2001; DeMarrais et al. 1996; Jones 1996, 1997; Hodder 1982, 1989; Shennan 1989; Sc hortman and Nakamura 1991). For archaeologists, studies of social identity neces sitate distinct linkages between identity and its expression in the archaeological record (Hodder 1982, 1986, 1989; Lucy 2005;
31 Shennan 1989; Jones 1996, 1997; Sackett 1982, 1985, 1986; Stocket 2005; Weissner 1983, 1985; Wobst 1977). Specifically, the stylisti c variability of artifacts was recognized as playing a significant, active role in the creation and reproduction of social identity (Sackett 1982, 1985; Weissner 1983, 1985; Wobst 1977). Following Giddens (1984), the interplay be tween the individual and society can foster social reproduction as we ll as social change. Important ly, forms of media (i.e., the combination of allocative and authoritative resources) can involve the retention and control of information or knowledge where by social relations ar e perpetuated across time-space (Giddens 1984:258). Thus, powerful el ites can manipulate material culture in order to express social identity. In addition, the dynamic nature of We issners (1983, 1985, 1989) emblemic and assertive manifestations of styl e give an active, participatory role to material culture. An important component of Weissners (1983, 1985, 1989) approach is th e identification of material referents for certain social groups, which can then be used to convey specific messages to target populations. This is espe cially important in evaluating how social status is materially expressed and manipul ated by elites. Furthermore, by acknowledging that stylistic choice is embedded in sociohi storical contexts, this approach allows inferences to be made linking changes in st yle to changes in so cieties over time. Archaeologists have implemented emblemic and assertive approaches (Weissner 1983, 1985) to interpret specific material styles adopted by social groups, as well as stylistic changes over time. Specifically, site planning, architecture, ceramic styles and mortuary patterns have been identified as media used by elites to construct a social identity (Bartlett and McAnany 2001; He gmon 1992; Plog 1992; Schortman and
32 Nakamura 1991; Schortman and Urban 2001; Stockett 2005). Each of these artifact classes has been correlated to different aspects of social identity. For example, site planning and architecture can be emblemic of worldview (Preucel 1991), which is part of constructing social as well as political identities. Ceramic styles are also emblemic features of affiliation; they have been demonstrated to correlate with status (Plog 1992) and can be represen tative of community identity (Bartlett and McAnany 2001). In some cases, ceramic artifacts can be considered an assertive form of social identity; that is, their styles are por trayed in a non-public way that can reference a more individual identification. Human burials are an interesting material example that combines both emblemic and assertive form s of identity; mortuary placement and individual burial practices are often viewed by the living and therefore can be utilized to establish and convey meaning (emblemic), while the unseen positioning of the body or the placement of grave goods can be in terpreted as non-public ways of personal identification (assertive). Embl emic and assertive aspects of style compliment each other in the holism they bring to interpreting the archaeological record. Communities are composed of pubic and non-public characterist ics that influence their built environment and material culture. Therefore, considering a combination of datasets can enhance our understanding of elite identity internal to a particular site, but within sociohistorical contexts shaping these stylistic choices. Thes e types of data have the potential to lend insight into different (and perhaps overlapping) sphere s of identity. For these reasons, Schortman and Nakamuras (1991) study has important implications for this thesis. Their work focuses specifically on identifying a common elite material affiliation that was motivated and sustained by resource procurement. This thesis
33 tests this model with the Palmarejo dataset, in order to evaluate the degree to which Palmarejo elites participated in an affiliative network with other Naco valley elites. This study also aims to expand on this model by including ceramic, human burial, and soil chemistry datasets (in addition to site pla nning and monumental arch itecture) to explore elite identity and activity in a community context. By focusing on the material culture from one particular site, a more refined picture of elite affiliative practices can be developed. In addition, it is hoped that this smalle r-scale focus will in turn illuminate the motivations and goals behind Palmarejo elite s possible inclusion in the southeast Mesoamerican interaction sphere that is ev ident from Schortman and Nakamuras (1991) work (see also Schortman et al. 2001; Schortman and Urban 1986, 2004; Stockett 2005; Urban 1986). If Palmarejo elites were attempting to ascribe to a region al elite identity for economic purposes, then site planning techni ques and monumental architecture styles should resemble the regional stylistic signifi ers described in Schortman and Nakamuras (1991) article. Exotic, imported goods such as polychrome pottery, Spondylus shells, and perhaps jade should also be present in the Palmarejo dataset, pointing to long-distance trade and economic success. The expanded dataset considered here al so allows for the exploration of other affiliations ascribed to by elites besides an outward identity that could be manipulated for economic gain. Schortman and Nakamura ( 1991:312) argue that elites select from a number of identities the one that best suits their needs at any given time. This study considers what those alternative identities might be, how they can be recognized materially, and what their role may have been in shaping elite social life and interactions.
34 In the following chapter, I situate Palmarejo in its natural and histor ical context and then identify the specific material correlates of elite identity for southeastern Mesoamerica using previous archaeolog ical investigations.
35 Chapter 3. Exploring Elite Style and Identity in the Late Classic (AD 650-900) Naco Valley, Northwest Honduras Studies concerning social identity in Mesoamerica have historically been conducted at large, state-level settlements with long historical chronologies and rich material records (for example, Teotihuacan and the Maya world [Braswell 2003]). These investigations, while significant in their own right, tend to produce broad interpretations for what was surely a dive rse population. Shifting the focus from statelevel societies to rural, mid-level comm unities presents archaeologists with the opportunity to investigate the complex natu re of smaller groups, which will expand our knowledge of how, why, and with whom people chose to affiliate themselves (Schortman and Nakamura 1991). The Naco Valley provides a unique opportunity to study social identity, because it is charac terized by small communities that seem to display certain distinctiveness in material culture (Stockett 2005). Palmarejo is one such community. The goal of this chapter is to describe the sociohistorical c ontext of the Late Classic Naco Valley. The landscape and envi ronment of the region will be reviewed, as well as pertinent culture-historical information from other sites in the region. I focus on the contemporaneous sites of La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas, discussing each of their site planning pr inciples, monumental architecture, ceramic artifacts, and human burials in order to evaluate the ways that elites expressed their social identity during the Late Classic (AD 650-900). This discu ssion will provide a set of expectations for the Palmarejo data.
36 Site planning and monumental archit ecture are evaluated as materially signifying an elite identity or worldvie w (Hodder and Cessford 1994; Parker Pearson and Richards 1994; Preucel 2001; Schortman and Nakamura 1991). The stylistic choices made by elites in the constructi on of their communities and buildings are considered for the purposes of this study as evoking social and polit ical identities. In addition, these visible manifestations of elite identity are considered to convey stylistic messages of affiliation to other elite groups (Schortman and Nakamura 1991). Ceramic styles present at Naco Valley s ites are considered to be devices of information exchange as well (Wobs t 1977). Following Weissner (1983, 1985), ceramic styles can represent emblemic or as sertive features of social identity; they can embody a communal social identity or an individual affiliation (Plog 1992), especially with regards to status. Similarl y, mortuary patterns in the Naco Valley are also analyzed in terms of their emblemic a nd assertive contributions to social identity. Following Binford (1971), a social persona can be inferred from the purposeful placement of a burial, the positioning of the body, and the inclusion of grave goods. The non-public (assertive) aspect of huma n interments can relate information on ritual or belief systems important to the individual (Hegmon 1992; McAnany 1995). Taken together, these lines of materi al evidence provide a framework with which to assess manifestations of elite soci al identity at Palmarejo, within the context of the rest of the Naco region. Settlements in the Naco region are also addressed in terms of the regional interacti ons and identity formation of their elite populations for comparative purposes with Palmarejo. This will lay the groundwork for the following
chapters, which discuss the study area of Pa lmarejo, and the data recovered from the site. Landscape and Environment Resting at an elevation between 100 and 200 m above sea level, the Naco Valley encompasses an area of approximately 96 km 2 and receives about 1300 mm of rainfall per year (Anderson 1994; Urba n 1986). The valley is surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra de Omoa ra nge, whose network of seasonal streams intermittently flow into the Ro Chamelec n. The climate is suitable for supporting a tropical rainforest, but centuries of human activity have severely reduced the forest cover (Newson 1986:48). The valley floor is characterized by fertil e alluvial soils that were intensely cultivated in pre-Hispanic times with maize and cacao (Newson 1986; Urban 1986). Today, these have been replaced by tobacco a nd sugarcane, with la rge tracts of valley land utilized for cattle gr azing (Urban 1986). Newson (1986:46) describes the northwestern portion of Honduras as a short grass savanna punctuated with pockets of evergreen and semi-evergreen seasonal forest s. In addition to cultivated foodstuffs, a diverse group of fauna were available for hun ting in pre-Hispanic times, notably deer, peccary, birds, and rabbits. Land snails and fr esh-water fish were also collected as edible resources (Stockett 2005). In the preHispanic period fertile agricultural land, abundant water sources, and a variety of natu rally occurring plant and animal species drew people to the Naco Valley region beginning as early as 1000 BC (Newson 1986; Urban 1986). 37
38 The culture and history of the Naco region is reviewed in the following sections, with particular attention to the Late Classic (AD 650-900) period, at the sites of La Sierra, El Coyote, Las Canoas, and Palmarejo. The Naco Valley in Cultural-Historical Perspective Evidence for occupation of the Naco Valley extends from the Middle Preclassic (ca. 1050-400 BC) period through the Spanish conquest (ca. AD 1525). During the Middle Preclassic, settlement in the immediate valley was dispersed, though construction of monumental earthen platforms (> 3 m high) at three sites indicates some degree of hierarchical organization (Urban 1986). During the Late/Terminal Preclassic (ca. 300 BC AD 300), these three sites (#104, #123, and #487) seem to have established themselves as administrative cente rs, demonstrated by diverse ceramic assemblages indicating exch ange with regional and extra-regional interaction spheres (Urban 1986). Outside of the immediate Naco Valley zone, El Coyote (located in the nearby Cacaulapa Valley, a tributary of the Ro Chamelecn) emerges during the Late Preclassic as a small farming village (Stockett 2005). The sites of Las Canoas and Palmarejo had not ye t been settled, based on extant data. While there is no single dominating s ite in the Naco Valley region during the Early Classic (ca. AD 300-600) period, occupa tion density increased in the center of the valley, close to the site of La Sierra (Urban 1986). Continued interregional contact is demonstrated by imported Ula and Yo joa polychromes, as well as stylistic similarities in the Naco assemblages to cer amics manufactured in the Copn and Ula Valleys (Urban 1986). The presence of exotic ceramic vessels, stone-faced
39 monumental architecture, and other im ported goods suggests that elites were beginning to control labor and establish their power through the acquisition of valued items. Elites also began incorporating Mesoamer ican architectural traits such as ball courts and monumental site cores into their communities (Schortman and Nakamura 1991). Radiocarbon dates obtained from Palm arejo indicate that there was some occupation during the Early Classic (Wells personal communication 2006), however, the scale and nature of occupation is still unclear. In a ddition, Early Classic monumental architecture is present at El Coyote. There is also evidence for occupation at Las Canoas, demonstrated by Las Canoas style ceramics recovered from the Naco Valley (Stockett 2005). The Late Classic (AD 650-900) shows a significant increase in population size in the Naco Valley, with the number of occupied sites jumping from a mere 14 during the Early Classic to 135 by the Late Classi c. La Sierra emerged as the dominant political and economic force in the regi on, suggested by the number and size of monumental platforms, amount of importe d goods, and presence of craft workshops (Schortman and Urban 1986, 1994, 2004; Urba n 1986). El Coyote, Las Canoas, and Palmarejo all saw dramatic increases in popul ation during the Late Classic, resulting in the construction of monumental site cente rs, as well as increases in regional trade and localized craft producti on (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005; Ellison 2006; Stockett 2005; Wells et al. 2006). In the following sections, I describe what we know about each of these sites during the Late Classic period. Their c ontemporaneous florescence resulted in a sociopolitical and economic regional inter action sphere among the elite populations.
40 One of the aims of this thesis is to elucidate this intera ction sphere and its implications for the expression of social identity (specifi cally at Palmarejo). I focus on the stylistic choices of el ites in site planning, monume ntal architecture, ceramics, and human burials, as these have been shown to play a role in the expression of social identity (see Chapter 2). La Sierra By the Late Classic period there were at least 135 sites spread across the Naco Valley, dominated by the capital of La Sierra. According to the five-tiered settlement typology established by Schortman and Urban (1 994), La Sierra is a Tier 1 site, since it incorporates more than 400 structures into its boundaries. El Coyot e is a Tier 1 site as well. Tier 2 sites include 45 structures or more, with several monumental platforms and a plaza. Palmarejo and Las Canoas both fall under this category, and are considered to be secondary administrative centers. The remaining three tiers incorporate most of the s ites in the region, those ha ving less than 41 buildings. As one of the most successful sites in the Naco region, La Sierra has an impressive center (Figure 2). The site core contains a ball court and 37 monumental platforms (defined as 1.5 m or higher), arranged in a rough D-shape around several plazas (Schortman and Urban 1994:405). Schortman and Urban (1994) link this pattern to an elite strategy of centralized political control based on trade, initiated to keep supporters close by and to facilitate tr ibute payments. In addition, this style of monumental architecture util izes such Mesoamerican traits as a highly nucleated, monumental site core and a ball court.
41 Figure 2. La Sierra, showing the monumental architecture of the civic center and the craft workshops (from Wells 2003:59). La Sierra (and the rest of the Naco Valley) displays a site planning pattern unique to the region. Urban ( 1986:672) notes that several site planning traits are distinctive to the Naco Valley: 1) proxim ity to resources (most importantly water, stone for construction, and agricultural land); 2) mani pulation of the natural topography in the construction of buildings ; 3) irregular, non-orthogonal site plans; and 4) organization of structures in a circular shape around a central patio. These characteristics imply that if there was a regional social iden tity expressed through architecture (Ashmore 1987; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Schortman and Urban 1994), then we should see this pattern th roughout Late Classic sites in the Naco region. Though situated on a highly fertile alluvi al floodplain conducive to intensive agriculture, excavations indi cate that La Sierra was further supported by a large
42 number of craft workshops that processed both local materials, such as clay, and imported raw materials, such as obsidian. Am ong the luxury products processed at La Sierra were incised marine shells, prim arily conch. In one La Sierra patio group, 1,256 pieces of marine shell were recovered, along with chert tools suited to heavy cutting and engraving (Schortman and Urban 1996). However, only one engraved marine shell has ever been found in the N aco Valley, suggesting that worked blanks were processed for export to finishing work shops. It has been suggested that conch shells, a precious commodity found at both Copn and Quirigua, were traded for polyhedral obsidian cores, which were finished in La Sierra workshops and distributed to subsidiary sites in the re gion (Schortman and Urban 1994:409). This is convincing evidence as to the importance of this centralized industry to La Sierra elites. The Naco population in general was produc ing a wide range of crafts, such as groundstone tools, figurines, whistles, o carinas, ceramic stamps, masonry blocks, textiles, and sculpture (Ellison 2006; McFarlane et al. 2005; Schortman and Urban 1996, 2004; Stockett 2005). The ability to produce these goods as well as subsistence foodstuffs created a dynamic relationshi p between the outlying sites and the monopoly of La Sierra. While they may have dominated trade in certain luxury goods such as conch shells, the outlying population may have been spurred to become involved in specialized manufacture by elite efforts at craft m onopolization. Local economic autonomy could have been preserved to a limited extent by producing to meet some immediate needs (Schortman and Urba n 1994:410). The typical core/periphery
43 relationship results in underdevelopment of the rural sites due to exploitation. However, there is no deterioration of outlyi ng sites as a result of exploitation in the Late Classic Naco Valley; in fact th ere are increases in craft production and specialization (e.g., Davis-Sala zar et al. 2005; Ellison 2006; Stockett 2005; Wells et al. 2006). In a recent study of one such rural crafting community, Ellison (2006) found that the inhabitants of these sites were producing pottery to meet their immediate needs, as well as those of their neighbors. This demonstrates that hinterland sites, while probably relying on La Sierra for some trade items (i.e., obsidian), were capable of maintaining a certain degree of economic autonomy. These findings imply that if rural sites were able to craft different styles of pottery, they could have fostered localized community identities separate from regional referents. Outwardly, La Sierra dominated a thriving trade network connecting northwestern Honduras with the rest of Meso america. Their visibl e material record suggests an attempt to signal an elite Meso american identity to trading partners (e.g., Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Wobst 1977). I assess the sites ritual and mortuary programs for two main reasons: 1) indicati ons of site-wide burial practices might signal a non-public facet of La Sierra iden tity, and 2) these patterns can serve as a basis for further regional comparisons (e.g., Hegmon 1992; McAnany 1995; Weissner 1983, 1985). At La Sierra, lowland Ma ya-style rituals performe d in the site center may have been employed to legitimize elite rule during the Late Classic. A sizable cache of ritually important objects was concealed in a low platform connecting site-core
44 Structures IA-16 and 17. This cache contained 25 percent of the censer fragments from the entire valley, along with Spondylus shells (including entire bivalves along with broken and burned fragments) and a cache of six small ceramic cups. These ritual deposits were purposefully buried with a white soil or ash. Pieces of the only stone sculpture found in the valley were s ituated here as well (Schortman and Urban 1994:410). All of these objects have been linked to lowland Maya rituals. The location of the cache in the site center is signi ficant in that it points to elite control: Monopolizing the performance of rituals with polity-wide significance would have served to legitimate centralized rule, gi ving paramounts a privileged relationship to the supernatural realm (Schortman and Urban 1994:411). While ritu al at La Sierra seems to have been focused on the site cen ter (and hence elite control over certain expressions of ritual), mortuary analysis fr om La Sierra lends in sight into the various material forms that belief can take. La Sierra burials were directly asso ciated with household architecture. Twentyfive of 38 individual burials we re found within structure walls, while 11 were found outside structure walls. Four were interred at the base of platform walls, which were later expanded, i ndicating that the intent of their original placement was on the outside of the building. Field notes for seven of the burials were incomplete, so their burial placement is unknown. The buria ls fall into two main categories: individual and commingled (Novotny 2002). The burial pattern of individuals at Naco shows some variability in placement, several instances of grave goods, and limited grave preparation. Of the 25 individuals placed within structures, five were buried inside rooms within the structures, one was
45 placed on top of a wall, and one was interred 0.20 m beneath a floor. Only four skeletons were interred in shallow graves All of the recovered interments were flexed, most likely due to space constrai nts and the placement of bodies against platform walls. Bundling bodies in biodegrad able materials (such as woven textiles) before burial is also a primary cause of flexed positioning. Architecture probably dictated the orientation of the bodies, since the walls were built before the individuals were interred (Novotny 2002). Grave goods were associated with th ree of the individual burials. Two polychrome bowls were found in one burial, one of which was an imported Ula polychrome, and the other a Chamelecn polychrome of local origin. The second burial had a polychrome bowl and an ear s pool. Both of these burials were found inside rooms. The third instance of grave goods occurring with an individual included an ocarina, ear flares, a bone sewing n eedle, and faunal remains. The skeleton was identified as a woman; the grave goods may have been the individuals personal possessions during life (N ovotny 2002; Mooney 1999). The commingled burials found at La Si erra also show a varied mortuary pattern, though only one includes grave goods. In total, five commingled interments were recovered two contained the remains of two flexed skeletons, one contained the remains of three flexed skeletons, and tw o were caches consisting solely of skulls. One cache included seven skulls that were set into a purposefully constructed niche on the north side of the structure, faci ng south. They were found with a cache of artifacts placed on the front edge of th e niche, including obsidian blades, faunal remains, many censer handles, and a plate on which one of the skulls was resting. The
46 skull cache contained one middle-aged a dult and six young adults, one female, one probable female, three probable males, a nd an undetermined individual (Mooney 1999). No post-cranial remains were associated with the skulls. Th e individuals were either interred somewhere else until the fles h had decomposed or they were defleshed before being placed in the niche. None of the skulls has signs of decapitation. Two left parietals were identified as having healed porotic hyperstosis showing that two people had some sort of iron deficiency during development. One individual, a young male between 20 and 27 years old, had modifi ed his left maxillary incisors by filing one edge straight and filing a notch in the center of the tooth. Mooney (1999) interprets the skull cache as a small shrine set up for ancestor worship. The second cache included three skulls buried 0.40 m be neath the basal wall of the associated structure, but no artifact asse mblages were found (Novotny 2002). Health at La Sierra was moderate for the time period, and did not seem to vary by burial location, number, or sex. Periostitis was present in both males and females from either poor nutrition or disease, or both. Poor dental health was recorded as well, with hypoplasias, periodontal disease, loss of alveolar bone, and caries all being very common. Three individuals ha d filed teeth one single interment and two from a commingled interment (Mooney 1999). As the paramount site in the Naco regi on during the Late Classic, La Sierraproduced artifacts set the normative standard fo r stylistic variation at other sites. This includes: 1) the Mesoamerican style of their site center, w ith monumental architecture arranged around a plaza, elite residences in close proximity to the ceremonial center (if not within it) and a ball court, 2) dis tinctive pottery types, including Chamelecn
47 polychrome, 3) ritual paraphernalia such as Spondylus shells, censers, and ritualized caches (including human remains), and 4) a generalized mortuary program, with people interred in primary contexts, indi vidually, in a flexed position within a household structure, usually on the northern side, without grave goods. The stylistic representation of this evidence at La Sierra is used here as a baseline for comparison between the rest of the site s in the Naco Valley. This is done because La Sierra remains the most extensively excavated si te in the Naco region and hence it has historically been employed as the regi onal paradigm. In this way, reliable comparisons can be evaluated with the data from Palmarejo, and the other sites. If there is a strong, common regional identity operating in the Naco Valley, then we would expect to find similar artifact styles at each of the sites. If affiliations differ by site, then we would expect artifact styles to vary as well. Given the amount of complexity recognized among populations in southeastern Mesoamerica, we could also expect to find a combination of these expectations. Fo llowing Plogs (1992) example mentioned in Chapter 2, there could be several different identities present at each site, which correlate to different material signifiers. El Coyote El Coyote is located in the Cacaulapa va lley, a southern tributary of the Ro Chamelecn (Figure 3). The Cacaulapa car ves a steep path through the surrounding hills, widening to only 1 km at its broadest point. Small settlements are scattered throughout the north/south valley, though El Coyote is by far the largest with about 400 buildings (Figure 4). Occupation began in the Late Preclassic (100 BC-200 AD)
and continued through the Late Postclas sic (AD 1100-1300). Natural resources are scarce in the circumscribed valley, leading Schortman and Urban (personal communication 2004) to hypothesize that the residents of El C oyote sustained their population through regional contact and trade, most likely with La Sierra and/or Copn (Wells 2003). The hypothesis for trade as a motivating factor in establishing El Coyote is supported by its strategi c location. The Cacaulapa Valley runs north/south, and El Coyote could have mon itored southern access to the Ula Valley, another prosperous Late Cl assic settlement area. Figure 3. Map of the Lower Cacaulapa Valley showing the site of El Coyote and smaller surrounding sites (from Wells 2003:71). 48
49 Excavations of middens surrounding the ma in plaza reveal that the residents of El Coyote were also participating in various craft activitie s, including lithic processing, animal or hide processin g, pigment processing, paper-making, and possible ceramic production (Wells 2003). Cr aft production and the presence of La Sierra produced ceramics recovered dur ing the 1999, 2000, and 2001 field seasons support the idea of trade inte ractions, indicating that the people of El Coyote maintained ties with La Sierra. However, their differing site pl ans suggest localized variability in site construction principles. Stockett (2001) identifies several site planning char acteristics of El Coyote and the Cacaulapa valleys: 1) topography is a guiding factor in site planning and structure placement, 2) sites are built away from flat open spaces, 3) some incorporate rectilinear site plans, and 4) central pa tios are absent as an organizing principle (Stockett 2005). These are slightly different than the planning principles of the Naco Valley, which emphasize irregular shapes, ci rcular boundaries, and central patios into their site designs, and are built on wide, flat alluvial planes (Urban 1986). While this implies discontinuity in social affiliation between the Naco and Cacaulapa valleys, the spatial constraints of the Cacaulapa Va lley must be reiterated. Rectilinear site planning could signal a differen ce in social identity, but it could also be because the valley terrain is not conducive to circular site plans. Leaving pa tios open could have been considered to be a waste of space. For these reasons, further material evidence is needed to demonstrate social affiliation at El Coyote.
Figure 4. The settlement of El Coyote, indicating the Main Plaz a, elite residential patios, and ball court (from Wells 2003). The site core of El Coyote consists of 11 monumental buildin gs that range in height from 4 to 10 m (Figure 5). These formed the borders of the main plaza, and were most likely non-residential structur es. A causeway on the northeast corner provided access to the main plaza during the La te Classic. South of the main plaza is 50
51 a ball court, as well as two other pla za groups. Excavations during the 2000 field season indicate that these were non-elite residences construc ted during the Late Classic, though they might have occupation histories dating from the Early Classic to Early Postclassic as well (Novotny 2002; Urban 2001). Early Classic (AD 200-600) ceramic assemblages recovered from El Coyote proved remarkably similar to those from La Sierra, suggesting interaction between the two sites. However, during the Late Classi c the ceramic assemblages deviate from the Naco styles, indicating that the residents of El Coyote were moving away from the influence of La Sierra. Mortuary evidence (discussed below) indicates that this relationship may have resulted in violent c onflict by the Terminal Classic period (AD 950-1100) (Novotny 2002). El Coyote burials show less variation in style (i.e., burial position, grave goods, orientation, location) than those of La Sierra. However, more excavations need to be conducted at El Coyot e in order to confirm this pattern. Most burials were recovered from a re sidential zone in the southw estern corner of the site. The major anomaly in an otherwise standard burial style is a fascinating cache of skulls located on the northeastern edge of the Main Plaza. The structures in the southwestern resi dential zone were non-elite residences perched on the edge of an escarpment l eading down to a seasonal streambed. The buildings were inhabited for several hundr ed years during the Late Classic, and incorporated many additions a nd construction phases over this period of time. A total of 20 skeletons were found in 16 interments in the group. There were eight children and 12 adults ranging in age from neonate to +50 years old. Of 20, preservation was
52 only complete enough to assign a sex to si x individuals three males and three females; the sexes of the rest are unknown (Novotny 2002). There were 12 individual, flexed burials and four commingled burials. Sixtyfive percent of the burials were placed out side of house walls. Fi ve burials containing seven individuals were found in middens, a nd one was interred in the fill of a terrace addition. Eleven out of the 20 were found orie nted with their heads to the north. Some graves were prepared by laying down a layer of pebbles, or they were densely packed with sherds. There were no grave goods found associated with any of the burials from the southwestern zone (Novotny 2002). Pathologies identified on the skeleton s of the southwestern zone include periostitis, caries, periodontal disease, hypopl asias, trauma, and osteoarthritis. This diagnosis is consistent with a non-eli te population for this time period (Novotny 2002). These households were most likely engaged in hard physical labor that resulted in some of the recognized pat hologies (trauma and osteoarthritis, for example). Two ossuaries were uncovered on the nor theastern causeway leading up to the Main Plaza (Wells 2003:196-200), yielding a Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) of 14 (Figure 6). The northern cyst contained eight in dividuals and the southern contained six. The northern ossuary was encountered first, and contained six skulls arranged around the eastern and western sides of a cyst, forming a half-circle around the post-cranial skeletal components that were placed in th e center (Figure 7).
53 Figure 5. El Coyote. Circled areas indi cate where the burials discussed in the text were recovered the southwestern residential zone and the northeast causeway (modified from Wells 2003).
The southern cyst was less formal but displayed a similar pattern, with eight skulls surrounding disarticulated post-cranial bones. Crania l characteristics confirmed that they were young males, aged 25-35. The disarticulation indicates that this was a secondary interment. The presence of one partially articulated torso and a varied ceramic assemblage indicates that the cy st had been re-used multiple times. The excavator (Wells 2003) theorizes that the southern cyst coul d have been used after the first was full. Figure 6. Structure 138, northeastern causeway leading into El Coyotes Main Plaza. The two skull caches are located east of the stairway and indicated by an arrow (Wells 2003). 54
Figure 7. Plan view of the two ossuaries containing commingled individuals from Structure 38 (from Wells 2003:199) The young men in the ossuaries show differing pathologies from the other individuals from El Coyote. The periodontal di sease, caries, trauma, and osteoarthritis present in the southwestern residential gr oup occurred at a very low rate in the young men in the cyst. This could be because of their age, but also because of status differentiation. The presence of healed porotic hyperostosis in 7 of the 14 cases sets these individuals further apart from th e people of the southwestern group. Five skeletons had cut marks, indicating that they were defleshed before interment, perhaps to fit so many of them into the cyst. One individual had a filed tooth, an 55
indicator of elite status th at is associated with the physical expression of social identity (Figure 8). Figure 8. Dental modification of a le ft maxillary incisor recovered from Burial 26B/025. Dental modification is believed to indicate self-ascribed social identity in Mesoamerica (from Novotny 2002). The paucity of evidence for this practi ce in the Naco region suggests that at least one El Coyote individual did not self -associate with the regional groups, and most likely originated elsewhere. Dental modification was commonly practiced by the neighboring Maya, which hints at the complexity of societal interactions during this time period. In addition, this unusual bur ial is reminiscent of a skull pit recovered at the Terminal Classic Maya site of Colha, Belize (Massey and Steele 1997). In their cultural and osteological study of the Colh a skulls, Massey and Steele (1997) determined that they did not die of natural causes, but were killed at approximately the same time, decapitated, and the heads flayed and buried together next to the stairway of a monumental structure. Massey and Steele (1997:76) 56
57 postulate that the people were sacrificed fo r religious reasons, that they were an elite family that was violently deposed, or that they were political victims treated with ritual violence. Since the skull pit at El Coyote contained only male individuals, it is conceivable that they were ri tually sacrificed or killed in some sort of conflict and then ritually interred. Furthe r analysis needs to be done on the skeletons in order to determine cause of death, and perhaps where the individuals originated. El Coyote was a seemingly prosperous site whose control over trade routes through the Cacaulapa drainage supporte d a large population occupying land with limited agricultural potential. Craft production met immediate needs, but it is apparent that monitoring trade was the primary means of accruing power at El Coyote. Social identity seems to be visibl y materialized at El Coyote in the same manner as at La Sierra a site plan dominated by monumental buildings (administrative and ceremonial structures) constructed around a central plaza with limited access and a ball court. The steady decrease of Chamelecn polychromes from the Early to Late Classic periods a nd an increase in imported and El Coyote produced ceramics, indicates a decline in interaction between La Sierra and El Coyote. Ritual practices at El Coyote in the form of the skull caches, as well as feasting residues, suggest that elite use of the Main Plaza played an instrumental role in the demonstration of elite power (W ells 2003). Burial styles (besides the anomalous skull caches) are fair ly standard at El Coyote, a departure from La Sierra practices, suggesting soci al affiliation at a more localized level.
58 Las Canoas Research at Las Canoas was initiated in 2002 by Miranda Stockett. Stocketts (2005) study focused on identifying practices of affiliation through material culture residues at Las Canoas. Consequently, Stocketts findings have significant implications for this study. Analysis and co mparison of regional stylistic patterns will create a comprehensive context for situating the data from Palmarejo. The site of Las Canoas includes 105 su rface visible structures constructed on an alluvial terrace bordering the Ro Cham elecn (Figure 9). It is the largest settlement in the lower Chamelecn river vall ey, which includes five other sites of up to seven structures each (Stockett 2005). However, these settlements are quite dispersed, leaving Las Canoas relatively isol ated. Excavations directed by Stockett in 2002 revealed that Las Canoas was occupied for a short period of time during the Late Classic, from AD 650-960. This is anomalous for the region, which is characterized by sites with occupational hist ories reaching back into the Early Classic and Formative periods, such as at La Sierra and El Coyote. In terms of site planning, Las Canoa s seems to have taken on stylistic variables present in both Naco and Cacaulapa site designs. As noted by Stockett (2005:494), Las Canoas resembles Naco site plans in its occupation of a flat, open river terrace, irregular, ci rcular shape, and organiza tion around a central patio. Cacaulapa characteristics present at Las Canoa s include a rectilinea r style of the Main Plaza and residential East Group, and utiliza tion of the natural topography to achieve a more commanding presence.
Figure 9. Map of Las Canoas (Stockett 2005:6). The monumental architecture construc ted at Las Canoas is concentrated around the Main Plaza, in the northern section of the si te. The Main Plaza Group was raised in three major construction epis odes, which Stockett (2005) suggests is indicative of shifting social affiliations at Las Canoas. Early in its occupation, Las Canoas displays architecture similar to th at of Naco styles, with low-lying cobble architecture arranged in an irregular patte rn. During the second phase, the Main Plaza buildings were remodeled with terraces, while the plaza was shaped to be more rectilinear, and paved with bright orange clay. The use of the clay for paving is unique to Las Canoas, though the practice of paving central plazas is found at other sites in the region. La Sierras plaza remained unpaved, though El Coyotes was 59
60 paved with limestone plaster. The final pha se of construction at the Main Plaza was composed of additions to the structures to raise their heights. Stockett (2005:509) argues that these changes were achieved, by incorporating archit ectural or spatial elements observed at other locales, and then modifying them to meet local needs and ideals. By the Terminal Classic period, Las Canoas had apparently developed a distinctive social identity in relation to other sites in the regi on. Stocketts (2005) work implies that social identity in southeastern Mesoamerica was subject to a variety of influences, and could cha nge considerably over time. Stockett (2005) also describes ceramic artifacts at Las Canoas, in order to further explore regional stylistic influence. Ritualized artifacts discussed include figurines, ocarinas, candeleros, and incensari os. In addition, ceramic stamps used to decorate textiles with distinctive patter ns may also have been important outward indicators of social affiliation. Stockett ( 2005) observes that many of these types of artifacts were either locally fashioned in a wider southeastern Mesoamerica style, or imported from other regions. Thus, Las Ca noans participated in regional ritual practices through a shared belief system. Figurines were often used in ritual activity, both in public and non-public settings. The presence of molds at La s Canoas indicates th at figurines were manufactured there, though in styles reminiscent of those from Naco (i.e., Napoleon Hat figurines, as well as anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations) (Figure 10). Stockett (2005) hypothesizes that most of the figurines at Las Canoas were produced at Naco and imported, connec ting Las Canoas to a wider southeast Mesoamerican belief system.
Ocarinas and stamps recovered from Las Canoas also bear evidence for a common regional identity. A diverse array of ocarinas was found at Las Canoas, including anthropomorphic and zoomorphi c forms reminiscent of styles found elsewhere in the region, such as Copn, the Sula plain, and the N aco Valley (Stockett 2005:513). Flat ceramic stamps were most likel y used to decorate textiles, and thus are an important artifact in determining social identity (Figure 11). The Las Canoas sample includes anthropomorphic and zoom orphic figures, the most prevalent being a row of monkeys linked by their tails. This design is most commonly found in the Sula/Ulua region, which provides further suppo rt for a regionally shared identity. Figure 10. Anthropomorphic figurine mold recovered from Las Canoas, indicating local production of a regional style. 61
Figure 11. Stamp recovered from Las Canoas depicting terraced hills. While figurines, ocarinas, and stamps s uggest affiliation wi th southeastern Mesoamerica, candeleros recovered from Las Canoas were manufactured in a local style (Stockett 2005). Candeleros can be made by hand, and hence are simple in form and lacking in decoration. Some are incised w ith cross-hatched lines or dots, but most remained plain, and are reminiscent of Naco Valley styles (Stockett 2005). Ritual practices across Mesoameric a are characterized by the use of incensarios. Thus, Stockett (2005) argues that they are the most i ndicative of regional affiliative links. All but one type (spiked censers) of Mesoamerican incensario forms were found at Las Canoas, including effigy, ladle, complex, and scored lid censers (Stockett 2005:516). Th e censers are lacking in deco ration. However, Stockett (2005) argues that this means that function was mo re important than form, linking them to a wide-ranging pan-Mesoamerican belief system. The few incesarios that were decorated incorporate widely known Mesoam erican symbols, such as the foliated cross. One modeled incesario depicts an an thropomorphic face (possibly an effigy of a deity) with a knotted headba nd, large earspools, filed teet h, and a tattoo between the 62
63 eyebrows; all common body modifica tion practices identified throughout Mesoamerica (Stockett 2005:516) Stockett (2005:517) stresses the ritual actions of which the incensarios were a part, over thei r stylistic qualities, In this case, it was not the ritual vessel that created meaning, but the ritual action itself. In linking these objects to identity, Stocke tt (2005) argues that ritual artifacts referenced a shared and enduring system of beliefs that transcended regional economic and political ties. It is those arti facts that directly mimic regional styles that have the greatest effect on the construction of salient local identities. Evidence for this comes from imported necessities fr om the Naco Valley, such as obsidian and ceramics. Naco-style ceramics constitute the larg est group of imported artifacts found at Las Canoas, suggesting close ties to Naco that Stockett (2005) argues helped create an immediate, salient identity. Used al ongside locally made pottery, these wares would have reminded members of the Las Canoas community of their connection to the Naco polity in subtle and consistent ways (Stockett 2005:519). Likewise, pottery produced at Las Canoas has been recovered in the Naco Valley, further illustrating their ties to the region. Because of this, Stockett (2005) argues that craft production played a central role in forming community identity at Las Canoas. The dependency of the people of Las Canoas on La Sierra for polychrome pottery and obsidian would have made a social affiliation with Naco very important. In addition, human interments from Las Canoas can also lend in sights into the relationship between the two sites.
64 Six individuals were recovered placed in fill deposits associated with residential buildings at Las Canoas. None of the pits we re specially prepared, and there were no grave goods incl uded with the bodies. While there were similarities in the locations of the bodies, there was variab ility in their positioning. Some individuals were interred directly in a buildings f ill while some were interred outside of a buildings walls. Some of the bodies were oriented north/south facing west. Other were bundled, and placed on their backs faci ng east. Probably because of the small sample size, Stockett (2005) does not expl ore the human interments as part of Las Canoass social affiliation. However, when a dded to the larger sample from the Naco Valley, they could further illu minate patterns of social id entity. The placement of the deceased within living spaces throughout th e valley points to the importance of ancestors in the residents worldview. The si milarity in the placement of the burials serves as a baseline for comparing the anomalies; for example, the skull caches. A complete interpretation of the burial data fr om the Naco Valley (including Palmarejo) is discussed in Chapter 6. Stocketts (2005) study has implications for change in identity over time as well. Most importantly, she finds parallels between the diminishing power of La Sierra during the Terminal Classic period a nd changes in material culture (primarily pottery production and exchange) at Las Canoas. The Terminal Classic was a time of florescence for Las Canoas, evinced by incr eases in pottery production and extension of trading networks to include exchange with El Coyote. The development of this trade relationship is contemporaneous with the rectilinear modifi cations made to Las Canoass Main Plaza. In addition, an increa sed density of imported Ula polychromes
65 at Las Canoas further suggest s the lessening of La Sierras regional influence at the end of the Late Classic. The identification of these patterns at Las Canoas has tremendous implications for this study of the Palmarejo Valley. One of the main goals of this paper is to elucidate the ties that Palmarejo maintained wi th regional sites, part icularly La Sierra, and how those ties influenced their social identity. Stocketts (2005) description of how regional affiliations were expressed and changed over time will be enormously helpful in analyzing the material record of Palmarejo. The Palmarejo data presented in the next chapter will add to the previous works discussed in this chapter by adding another perspective on what was apparently a very complex series of economic, political, and affiliative interactions. Expectations Based on the previous studies of social identity described in Chapter 2 (Barth 1969; Bartlett and McAnany 2001; Daz-Andr eu and Lucy 2005; Hodder 1986; Jones 1996, 1997; Shennan 1989; Stocket 2005) and the sociohistorical context described in this chapter, specific artifact categories can be used to assess different aspects of ethnic affiliation. Specifica lly, I examine site planning principles, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials of the Late Classic Naco Valley to infer elite social identity. In pa rticular, one objective of this thesis is to assess to what degree Palmarejos inhabitants identified with the rest of the Naco Valley. One method of doing this is to evaluate the visible styles of these artifact classes at Palmarejo against those styles port rayed at different Naco sites.
66 For example, site planning and the associated monumental architecture composing site centers are an important display of elite power in southeastern Mesoamerica. If the style and methods of their planning and construction are comparable between Palmarejo and the other sites, then it could be inferred that Palmarejo elites were directly identifying w ith the regional elite power structure. For example, if the Palmarejo site plan is sim ilar to either the rect ilinear plans recognized at El Coyote, or the circular pl an present at La Sierra, then it could be inferred that the residents of Palmarejo were attempting to affiliate themselves with the residents of either of these sites. Furthermore, th e changes observed over time at Las Canoas could have important implications for Pa lmarejo. For example, the presence of different construction styles at Palmarej o (i.e., an orthogonal Naco-style patio group as well as a rectilinear patio group) could indicate a change in affiliations over time. On a more localized level, ceramic pr oduction and use (of plates and vessels, as well as figurines, ocarinas, and censers) typically signal s a more personal attachment to a particular worldview (P log 1992). A stylistic typology of ceramics produced in the Naco Valley has been well documented (Schortman and Urban 1986, 1994, 2004; Urban 1986). If ceramics recovered from Palmarejo were imported from certain Naco workshops (identified thus far at La Sierra, El Coyote, or Las Canoas), then it could be inferred that Palmarejo re sidents may have affiliated themselves with the site whose ceramics they were primarily importing. In particular, the presence of specific styles of ritually important cera mic artifacts (i.e., figurines and ocarinas) could suggest an affiliation with regional religious practices.
67 A regional worldview could be inferred from burial practices (Hegmon 1992). If the Palmarejo mortuary data follows the Naco pattern of placing burials within or adjacent to living spaces, then a shared wo rldview could be inferred. This pattern is also reminiscent of wider Mesoamerican pa tterns, which could suggest more distant affiliations. Each site displays unique facet s to their mortuary program, for example, the extended positioning of bodies at El C oyote as opposed to the flexed positioning at Las Canoas and La Sierra. The positioning of bodies recovered from Palmarejo could suggest ties to a specific site. In addition, the presence of s kull caches at both La Sierra and El Coyote seem to point to an affiliation in ritual belief systems between the two sites. The presence of cach es utilizing human skeletal components could be indicative of a participation in this belief system by Palmarejo elites. Summary It has been demonstrated in this chapter that elite social identity took a variety of material forms at Late Classic La Sierra El Coyote, and Las Canoas. Elite identity was signaled and materialized through site plans, monumental architecture, ceramic assemblages, and human burials. At each site there is evidence for affiliation with broader southeast Mesoamerican traditions, wh ile incorporating these ideas into local styles. In addition, it is apparent that change s in the stylistic representation of these artifacts correlated with shifting regional relationships, principally the decline of La Sierras influence during the Terminal Cl assic. However, little is known about how these relationships might have played out at the second largest site in the Naco Valley, Palmarejo. A closer archaeological analysis of site planning, monumental
68 architecture, ceramics, and human burials is needed to assess how social identity was formed and expressed at Palmarejo. Palmar ejo provides an opportunity to further elucidate what was evidently a complex sociopolitical and economic interaction sphere influencing the formation of social identities in the Naco Valley. The next chapter describes the methods used for evaluatin g elite social identity at Palmarejo.
69 Chapter 4. Excavation and Laboratory Methods for Evaluating Elite Identity Formation at Palmarejo Up until 2004, little was known about Palm arejo and its relationship with the sites discussed in the previous chapter. It was identified as a tier 2 site by Schortman and Urban during their full-coverage pedest rian survey of the Naco Valley in 1988 (Urban and Schortman 1988). Consequently, exploratory test p its were dug at Palmarejo. Intensive excavations were initiated at Palmarejo by the Proyecto Arqueolgico Comunidad Palmarejo (PACP) under the direction of E. Christian Wells, Karla L. Davis-Salazar, and Jos E. Moreno-Corts in 2004. During the course of three field seasons, excavations have b een conducted at the Palmarejo Main Group and elite residential zones. In addition, the entire valley has been surveyed and mapped, with test units being dug at othe r locations throughout the valley (DavisSalazar et al. 2005; Wells et al. 2004, 2006). These investigations, though preliminary, immediately raised questions as to Palmarejos economic, sociopolitical, and cultural connections with La Si erra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas. Palmarejo is the largest settlement in the Palmarejo Valley, which includes 96 smaller sites dispersed according to re source zones throughout the valley (Hawken 2007; Wells et al. 2004). A full-scale pedestri an survey of the valley recorded these 96 sites and subsequently categorized them into five different classes based on the number of monumental st ructures included in e ach site (Figure 12).
Figure 12. Map of the Palmarejo Valley detailing the site classification system (from We lls et al. 2004). Class 1 consists only of Palmarejo (#80), which is composed of 93 surface visible structures, including 15 monumental buildings (ove r 1.5 m in height, several over 3 m), two elite residential groups, two formal plazas, and a ball court. Class 2 sites include the sites of Pacayal (#30), Palos Blancos (#58), El Morro (#66), and 70
71 Suyapa (#68). These sites are charac terized by more than 25 surface visible structures, including ceremonial, administrativ e, and residential buildings, as well as one or more formal plazas. There are five Class 3 sites, which are characterized by residential patio groups with buildings great er than 2 m in height. Class 4 includes 56 sites, which are identified by residential groups w ith buildings less th en 2 m in height, with either an irregularly shaped patio or no patio at all. Finally, Class 5 includes 30 field houses, individual buildings constructed independently from habitation zones that were most likely used for agricultural pur poses such as tool st orage, or for ritual purposes (Wells 2007). It has been suggested that Palmarejo elites were in political and economic control of this entire va lley during the Late Classic, though recent research suggests that the Class 2 sites were not dominated by Palmarejo, but were in control of their immedi ate resources (Hawken 2007; Wells et al. 2004). Palmarejo itself is an anomaly in the site classification sy stem established by Schortman and Urban for the Naco Valley ( 1986). In this system (described in Chapter 3), La Sierra is the only tier 1 s ite, with 468 surface visi ble structures. While smaller than La Sierra and classified as a tier 2 site, Palmarejo is significantly larger than other tier 2 sites in the valley, which are characterized by at least 45 structures that include monumental architecture delineating plaza spaces. This suggests that Palmarejo was an extremely successful tier 2 site that may have been competing with La Sierra for resources (Wells et al 2004). Archaeological excavations were conducted in order to evaluate the degree to which Palmarejos resi dents were able to maintain economic and political self-sufficiency.
72 The 93 structures that make up the site of Palmarejo include three distinct zones: a Main Group characterized by two formal plazas (the North Plaza and the South Plaza), and two residential groups (the Southeast Group and the Northeast Group) (Figure 14). The North Plaza include s five range structures (# 21, #22, #26, # 30, and #31) organized around a formal plaza. The South Plaza is characterized by four structures over 3 m in height (#20, #23, #29, and #19), which also delineate a formal plaza. The Southeast Group includes 14 low-lying range structures (#1 #14) about 1.5 m in height, two of which form a ball court (#10 and #11). This group surrounds a wide, formal patio. The North east Group includes 17 small structures and terraces (#47 #63), two of which are about 1.5 m in height (#54 and #55), clustered in a circular shape around a patio. As a field school student with PACP during the 2005 field season, I conducted excavations of Structures 20 and 29 in the South Plaza of the Main Group. Excavations were also undertaken by field school students at Structure 93, a terrace west of the South Plaza, and Structure 5, the southernmost building in the Southeast Group. In 2006, with the assistance of PA CP field school students, I directed excavations of Structures 54, 55, and 60, in addition to test pits performed in the North Plaza and Northeast Group. The subsequent sections in this chapter will outline the methodology employed in the excavation of these structures in order to evaluate the economic and sociopolitical relationship between Palmarejo and other sites in the region, and how material manifestations of e lite identity developed relative to these interactions.
Northeast Group Southeast Group Main Group Figure 13. Map of the Palmarejo site center, including the Main Group and two elite residential neighborhoods (m odified from Wells et al. 2004). PACP maintained four objectives for th e site of Palmarejo over the course of the 2005 and 2006 field seasons: 1) to estab lish a cultural chronology for the site, 2) to analyze soil samples from the Main Group and Southeast Group plazas in order to identify activity areas, 3) to investigate elite political and economic activities at Palmarejo, and 4) to evaluate interaction between Palmarejo and other regional sites, principally La Sierra. To reach these goals excavation locations were selected from zones assumed to be associated with elite activities. In order to obtain a meaningful sample, excavations of various types of structures were carried out. Range, pyramidal, and terraces structures were excavated in the Southeast Group, Main Group, and Northeast Group. Specifically, Structures 5, 20, 29, 93, 54, and 60 were 73
74 each chosen for excavation. The South Plaza, Southeast Patio, and Northeast Patio were chosen for archaeologi cal testing and soil sampling (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005; Wells et al. 2004, 2007). The Southeast Group was selected for te sting and excavation to evaluate the assumption that this was an elite residential patio group. Structure 5 was selected because it was among the most well-preserve d buildings in the Southeast Group, and thus held the best probability of containing intact artifact deposits (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Excavations were conducted here in order to garner information that might help us infer the kinds of exchange systems that elites were part icipating in during the Late Classic. Likewise, Structures 20 and 29 were among the best preserved (as well as the tallest) buildings at Palm arejo, and thus were also selected for excavation. By excavating a portion of the Main Group we hoped to determine the specific functions of the two buildings (i.e., ritual versus administrative) and their plaza, which could illuminate the ways that elites garnered a nd maintained power at Palmarejo during the Late Classic. The propensity for specially produced ritual artifacts to be found in ceremonial contexts was a second motivati on for these excavations. These kinds of assemblages could offer further insights in to elite participatio n in regional economic and political interaction spheres. Additio nally, as described by Stockett (2005), the style of artifacts used in ritual contexts can indicate what kind of belief system people were affiliating themselves with through ritual practices. In order to establish a cultural chrono logy for the site center, and to gain insight into elite ritual a nd sociopolitical life at Palm arejo, a 76 m x 1 m long trench
75 was excavated through the center of the South Group from the northern side of Structure 20 to the southern side of Stru cture 29. Due to time constraints, the trench was not continuous; test pits were dug every other meter in the plaza. A third distinct zone was selected for excavation and testing at Palmarejo, the Northeast Group. This group was chosen because it seemed to occupy a similar area in the Palmarejo site plan as did the multiple craft workshops in the La Sierra site plan. Excavations were conducte d here in order to test the idea that Palmarejo was participating in localized craft production activ ities (most likely ceramic production), offering a rationale both for Palmarejo s anomalous ceramic assemblages and apparent economic success within the Naco region. Structure 54 was selected because of its good state of preservation, as well as be ing one of the talles t structures in the group. Structure 60 was slated for excavation be cause of its location directly north of Structure 54. Most of the structures composing the No rtheast Group are low-lying terraces or platforms similar to Structure 60, and so I wanted to excavate there in order to ensure that my sample was represen tative of the group. Lastly, at La Sierra, production activities occurred both on platforms and in specially delineated patio areas. Thus, wide test pits (2 m x 2 m) were dug intermittently across the groups plaza. A unique feature of the Palmarejo si te center documented during the 2004 season was the presence of terraces stepping down into a deep, ar tificial depression on the western side of the site. Trench es were laid perpendicular to these constructions (Structure 93) in order to determine their function in relation to the artificial depression as we ll as to the Main Group immediately to the east.
76 In addition to testing the visible arch itecture at Palmarejo, sampling methods were designed to specifically evaluate prehistoric activity areas within the plazas (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005; Wells et al 2007). Open spaces are often ignored in archaeological research designs under the assumption that the absence of visible artifacts indicates a lack of human activ ity. Recent research in archaeological soil chemistry suggests that researchers have been missing vital sources of prehistoric information by making this assumption (Wells et al. 2007). Thus, 324 soil samples were collected from the South and Sout heast Group in order to evaluate elite activities performed in these areas duri ng pre-Hispanic times. Though most PACP research involves studying Palmarejos connections to the outside world, soil chemistry is one method of evaluating intras ite community interactions. Perhaps most importantly for this study, studying the ch emical make up of the open spaces can expand on the spatial analysis of monumental architecture by focusing the purposes of the space, not just its boundaries. Excavation and Notation Procedures PACP excavation and notation methods follow those initiated by Urban and Schortman at both the Proyecto Valle de Naco (PVN) and the Proyecto Valle de Calcaulapa (PVC). This is especially bene ficial for this study, which compares sites excavated under all three projects. This work was performed as a part of the PACP field school, under the supervision of E. Christian Wells, Karla L. Davis-Salazar, and Jos E. Moreno-Cortes during two six-week field seasons in 2005 and 2006. Excavations at Palmarejo were
77 directly supervised by Wells and PACP staff members, including myself, Jolien Verdaasdonk, and Nichole Davenport of the Univ ersity of South Florida, and Anna C. Novotny of Arizona State Univ ersity. Field crews consisted of undergraduate field school students, who were responsible for overseeing the effort s of several local workmen and accurately recording excavati ons as they progressed. Archaeological research in the Naco Valley would not be possible without the labor and skill of the local Hondurans. These men work with the fi eld crews in groups of four to six, and are responsible for the majority of the physical tasks involved in excavating. At the beginning of each season, areas selected for archaeological investigation were cleared of brush and small trees, enabling clear views of plazas and surface visible structures. Detailed prel iminary notes were taken including the rationale for excavating, preserva tion of the selected struct ure, its locati on within the site, geographical orientation, and possible function. The notational method employed throughout the Naco Valley used an Operation/Sub-Operation/Lot system. Every si te has a number (Palmarejo is site #80, Palos Blancos is site #58) to identify it within the larger valley. Smaller sites were generally not named, but were referred to by their site number. At these sites, this number is also used for the operation numb er. At a larger site such as Palmarejo, several operations were necessary in orde r to differentiate between clusters of structures within the site. Operations were designated sequentially as excavations expanded to different areas of the site Palmarejo has a total of 13 operations, numbered sequentially from 100-113. Over the course of the excavations, operations included several trenches and sub-operations.
78 Sub-operations were used to designat e segments of trenches that had a specific rationale or purpose behind th eir excavation. For example, a new suboperation was assigned to the extension of a trench following a wall or other construction unit. Sub-operation letters were noted on artifact bag tags and in field notes by a capital letter (given sequentially from A to Z) placed after the operation number. An informal (i.e., not an official pa rt of the Operation/Sub-Operation/Lot system) but very helpful method of identif ying specific portions of a trench was the Excavation Unit. Written in shorthand as EU, these are the 1 m x 1 m square sections that divided a trench. These were sequ entially numbered within the given suboperation. The third spatial designation of this notational system is the lot. Lots referred to the actual stratigraphic position of excavated soil dug in an excavation unit. Typically lots were excavated in 10 cm increments, however once a reliable stratigraphic profile was established, excavators dug according to those depths. Lots were numbered sequentially from 001 until the closure of the sub-operation. Included on the artifact bag tags and on excavators field notes, a typical designation from Palmarejo (site 80) might look like this : Sitio 80 (Palmarejo), 100A/001, Excavation Unit 1. Once preliminary notes were taken on the structure and the notational system clarified, axial trenches we re laid across the chosen structures. The position and length of the axial trench was determined by the size and shape of the building. The goal of the axial trench was to approach the basal walls from a perpendicular point of
79 view so that tumbled rocks can be identif ied and cleared, working towards the inner, preserved portions of the building. Thus th e trenches started several meters away from perceived tumble. Workmen fashioned wooden stakes with their machetes, which were used to define the limits of the axial trench, as well as mark off excavation units every meter. A datum point in the form of a stake w ith a string attached 10 cm beneath its top was placed in a raised location, and initial measurements were taken before subsurface excavations began. On some of the steeper structures, multiple datum points were established. These were measured in rela tion to one another, utilized when scale drawings were made of the trenches, and then mapped with an EDM transit at the completion of the field season, in order to preserve the integrity of the measurements. Initial lots were dug in 10 cm incremen ts until the soils stratigraphy can be identified, after which lots were excavated according to the natu ral (or anthropogenic) levels of deposition. Each lot was screened w ith 1 cm wire mesh screens, in order to identify smaller artifacts. Excavations were physically conducted by the Honduran workmen, who used large picks and shovels to remove large amounts of soil and tumbled rocks, as well as smaller hand pick s and trowels for more precise excavation. Artifacts were collected in the screen and ba gged at the close of each lot. Lots were measured from the datum point at the four corners (labeled in the field notes as geographical locations, i.e., northwest, southw est, northeast, south east) of the unit and in the center. In addition to field notes, lot sheets were filled out upon the completion of each lot, specifically detailing the loca tion of the lot, datum measurements, types and amounts of artifacts recovered, type of cultural deposition, soil description, and
80 Munsell number. In addition, numbers of scale drawings, photographs, or samples taken (i.e., carbon or soil samples) were in cluded on the lot sheets. These details were also recorded in the excavators field notes. After excavation of the axial trench wa s completed, a scale drawing was made of one side of the trench wall, and additional units were laid out based on information gathered from the South trench. For example, if the trench revealed construction units that can be followed, new sub-operations consisting of 1 m x 1 m units were established in the perceived direction of the constructi on unit. The basal walls of platforms were typically pursued upon comp letion of the axial trench, in order to determine the size and dimensions of the bui lding, as well as any additions to the original structures, such as terraces. Subs equent lateral extensions were pursued on the summit of the structure. Due to time c onstraints (and the natu re of some of the buildings) at Palmarejo, basal walls were not always followed or cleared. For example, Structures 20 and 29 were each ove r 3 m in height, and the length of the field season did not allow for complete clear ing of the basal walls However, these are the techniques adhered to by PACP. As excavation progressed, architecture and other cultural aspects of the building (such as hearths or summit benches) were labeled as features. Other artifacts typically recovered from stru ctures in the Naco region in clude bajareque (or wattle and daub), ceramic sherds (including bowl, jar, plate, figurine, ocarina, stamp, or censer fragments), lithics (obsidian, perlite, chert), marine shell (land snails or the exotic imported Spondylus shells), groundstone manos and metates, faunal remains, charcoal, and human bone. One bag was used for all durable artifacts, with a detailed
81 inventory of the bags conten ts listed on its tag as well as in the field notes and lot sheets. Fragile artifacts such as human bone or charcoal were bagged separately. Charcoal samples were carefully collected w ith a metal trowel to avoid contamination and wrapped in precisely folded aluminum foil. Human bone was also wrapped in foil, and placed in paper bags (when availa ble, untied plastic otherwise) in order to discourage humidity. Tags were writte n with the site number, operation/suboperation/lot information, excavation unit, excavator number, date, and artifact inventory. Soil samples were taken from the Ma in and Southeast Group. Using a lattice grid matrix samples were taken at regular 2 m intervals in the Main Group and at 5 m intervals in the Southeast plaza (Figure 14) Samples were collected with a metal trowel from approximately 15 cm beneath the modern ground surface, which is where the ancient plastered plaza would have b een. These samples were bagged, tagged, and stored at the lab house in Cofrada until they could be taken to the University of South Florida for chemical analysis.
NmagneticMETERS0 5 20 South Plaza (n = 182) Southeast Plaza (n = 142) Figure 14. Map indicating soil sample locations in the Main Group and Southeast plazas (modified from Wells et al. 2007). All exposed architecture and excavated tr enches and test pits were backfilled at the end of the field season, after detailed scale drawings are made of all exposed walls and features. Layers of rock and so il are intermixed to provide a sustainable matrix that will not sink drastically afte r the first rain. Several non-biodegradable objects such as foil chip wrappers or Coke can s are placed in the backfill to verify our modern intrusion. This is an important as pect of excavation, since the land on which Palmarejo sits is also a modern field used in part for agriculture as well as grazing land for cows. 82
83 Laboratory Methods Artifacts were taken to the PACP laborat ory in Cofrada at the end of each work day for cleaning and cataloging. Ceramic sherds were washed in basins of water with soft toothbrushes and dried on planks and screens in the sun. Local Honduran women were hired to help us with this task. Field school students supervised by a staff member assisted the women in clean ing the sherds, which were then counted, weighed, re-bagged and stored in the lab. This information was then entered into the project laptop in an MSAccess database. At this point, no detailed ceramic analysis has been performed on the Palmarejo data. Th is analysis is curre ntly planned for the 2007 field season. While only generalizatio ns can be made based on field and laboratory observations, this study emphasizes the style and form of ceramic artifacts. In this way, preliminary information on the presence or absence of certain styles can be used. Other artifacts such as faunal remains, lithcs, and marine shell were gently washed, dried, and catalogued as well. To date no detailed lithic analysis has been performed on the Palmarejo dataset. Human bone was washed very carefully, dried in a protected place, and analyzed by PACP osteologist, Anna C. Novotny (analysis described below). No faunal analysis was done on the animal remains. All artifacts collected during PACP field seasons are delivered to the IHAH (Instituto Hondureo de Anthropologa e Hi storia) department of Corts storage facility in La Lima. Field notes, lot sheets, and scale drawings are copied and given to IHAH, along with a report (informe) detailing the seasons results.
84 Osteological Methods In order to take a bioarchaeological a pproach in evaluating the issue of social identity in the Naco Valley, mortuary pattern s need to be carefully considered in light of the archaeological context. Because of cultural patterns in Mesoamerica, burials are found during the pursuit of other resear ch questions (Whittington and Reed 1997; Webster and Gonlin 1988) most commonly in household plaza groups or terraces. This is the case throughout the Naco Valle y. Despite the accidental nature of their recovery, these burials can offer insights into social affiliation and identity. Osteological analysis was performed by Anna C. Novotny of Arizona State University (Novotny 2006). All data were collected in accordance with the Standards for Collection of Data from Human Skeletal ReSouths (Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994). Standards is a compilation of techniques used in osteological analysis which outlines methods of determining age, sex, pathol ogical conditions, and cultural modification. As much of these data were collected for each individual as possible. Age was estimated for most skeletons by dental wear or dental eruption, though where preservation was good enough epiphyseal cl osure, cranial suture, and pelvic morphology were also used. Sex was determin ed by a combination of cranial traits, pelvic morphology, and long bone measurem ents as preservation allowed (Novotny 2006). Analysis of the dentition was done according to Standards and supplemented by Simon Hillsons text Dental Anthropology (1996) and Timothy D. White and Peter Folkiens text The Human Bone Manual (2006). Pathologies were identified with reference to Identification of Pathological Cond itions in Human Skeletal Remains (Ortner 2003). Age at death for juve nile skeletons was estimated using The Osteology
85 of Infants and Children (Baker et al. 2005). Archaeologi cal contexts were described in various field notes, reports, and publica tions, and are cited as such (Novotny 2006). Soil Chemistry Methods Chemical analysis of the soil samples was performed at the University of South Florida by myself and fellow graduate student James R. Hawken. First, 2 g of soil was measured from each sample and mixe d with an extractant (20 ml of dilute 0.60-molar hydrochloric acid and 0.16molar nitric acid) in a polyethylene vial, which was then shaken for 30 minutes on a platform shaker at 200 RPM. The resulting solution was then filtered using ashless filter paper and transferred into a clean polyethylene vial. Then the samples we re diluted with Type II deionized water, which brought the concentrations of the el ements into the optimal measurement range of the analytical instrument. All samples were then taken to the Paleoclimatology, Paleoceanography, and Biogeochemistry Laborat ory in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida, St. Pe tersburg campus, for analysis using a PerkinElmer 4300DV ICP-OES with Echelle-t ype grating (Wells et al. 2007). Statistical methods were used to anal yze the results. Principal components analysis is an exploratory da ta analysis that groups hi ghly correlated variables into factors that explain as much variation in the data as possible. This method was employed to examine correlations between the variables and to account for those variables responsible for most of the variation in the da taset (Wells et al. 2007). The results and analysis are detailed below in the Chapters 5 and 6.
86 Summary The methods described in this chapter were designed to pursue the research objectives laid out by PACP during it s 2005 and 2006 field seasons. Evaluating Palmarejos elite regional interactions n ecessitated horizontal ex cavation and testing procedures in several different parts of th e site in order to gain a representative sample of elite activities and extra-site economic and sociopolitical connections during the Late Classic. Excavations pro ceeded under the suggestion that Palmarejo was able to subsist independently from La Sierra to a certain extent because of localized crafting, most likely ceramic produc tion (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). With research designed to assess this possibi lity, the comprehensive archaeological methodology employed enabled different questions to be asked of the resulting dataset. Excavation and testing at Palmarej o revealed material categories useful for evaluating prehistoric social identity, su ch as monumental architecture, ceramic styles, and a mortuary program, in addition to ritual deposits. Us ing these data in a comparative analysis with known regional pa tterns from the sites of La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas, will enhance our knowledge about the ways that people in small-scale societies choose to identify themselves and their communities. In the following chapters, the results from the ex cavations at Palmarejo are evaluated in light of this issue, allowing preliminary infere nces to be made as to material signifiers of elite identity at Palmarejo. Additionally, possible motivations behind these stylistic choices will be discussed.
87 Chapter 5. Archaeological Evidence for Elite Id entity Formation at Palmarejo Excavations The objective of the 2005 and 2006 field s easons was to assess elite activities at Palmarejo and their relationship with the regional economic and sociopolitical interaction sphere. In order to reach these goals excavati ons were undertaken at the Main Group, the Southeast elite residential zone, and a series of terraces extending west from the site center. Test pits were also conducted in th e south and southeast plazas, and soil samples were taken to eval uate activity areas (Figure 15) (DavisSalazar et al. 2005). The Main Group Palmarejos Main Group is located in the southwestern zone of the site, and incorporates four monumental structures arranged around a rect angular plaza (Figure 16). The buildings at the northern and sout hern ends of the plaza are pyramidal in shape (Structures 20 and 29), with square bases and restricted summits. Pyramidal buildings have been demonstrated to serve r itual purposes at other Naco sites (i.e., El Coyote and La Sierra). Theref ore, it was assumed that they served a similar purpose for the pre-Hispanic residents of Palmarej o. The structures bordering the eastern and western sides of the plaza are broad range st ructures (Structures 19 and 23), with long rectangular bases and platfo rm summits. At La Sierra (Schortman and Urban 1994), Las Canoas (Stockett 2005), and El Coyote (W ells 2003), range structures have been
88 identified as administrative buildings util ized by elites for sociopolitical purposes. Thus, based on their size and shape it is though t that these structures may have had an administrative function at Palmarejo as well. In order to establish a cultural chrono logy for the site center, and to gain insight into elite ritual a nd sociopolitical life at Palm arejo, a 65 m x 1 m long trench was excavated through the center of the Main Group from the northern side of Structure 20 (Operation 102/A, B, D, E) to the southern side of Structure 29 (Operation 102/C, F). The trench was not c ontinuous; test pits were dug every other meter in the plaza (Operation 102/G, H, I, J). In addition, four test pits were dug in each corner of the plaza (Operation 103/A, B, C, D). In sum, 367 lots were excavated in 81 excavation units in the Main Gr oup, covering a total surface area of 81.0 m 2 and approximately 44.1 m 3 of excavated soil (Davis -Salazar et al. 2005).
Figure 15. Map indicating structures that have been excavated at Palmarejo (modified from Wells et al. 2006). 89
South Plaza 16 103A 103B 103C 103D 102A 102B 102C 102D 102E 102F 102G 102H 102I 102J NmagnticoPROYECTOARQUEOLGICOCOMUNIDADPALMAREJOOperations 102 and 103, Sitio 80METROS05 2 Excavaciones en 2005291819 23 20 271721 22 Figure 16. Map indicating structures excavated in the Main Group during the 2005 season (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Structure 20 Structure 20 delineates the norther n border of the Main Group. It was constructed in two phases, the first of which was duri ng the Early Classic (AD 300600). Due to time constraints, only the axial trench and the summit were cleared; therefore our knowledge of the Early Classic structure is limited. Evidence includes the dimensions of the building, the date of its termination, and its use as a ritual structure. The basal wall was identified, as well as an early plaza paved with limestone plaster, and a ritual depo sit on the summit. During this period, Structure 20 was 90
91 pyramidal in shape, with a he ight of 3.9 m, a basal perimeter of approximately 18 m, and a summit of approximately 4 m x 4 m. This phase was terminated towards the end of the Early Classic, when a termina tion ritual deposit was found similar to the one discovered between Structur es IA-16 and 17 at La Sierra (Schortman et al. 2001). Interpreted as a terminati on ritual upon the decommissioning of the La Sierra site center by Schortman and Urban (1994:410), this cache contained 25 percent of the censer fragments from the entire Naco Valley, along with Spondylus shells (including entire bivalves along with broken and burnt fragments), as well as a cache of six small ceramic cups. These ritual deposits were purposefully buried with a white soil or ash. The Palmarejo cache was recovered 2.1 m beneath the ground surface (Op. 102/Sub-Op. A/ Lot 59), and included a Spondylus that was broken and placed on the remains of a fire, evidenced by layers of extensive charcoal staining, which was then buried beneath a layer of fine, compacted white soil (Figure 17). In addition, burned bajareque fragments indicated that the ear lier perishable supers tructure may have been ritually destroyed as well. Comal a nd censer fragments found in close proximity (Lots 58 and 59) to the formal cache suggest th e performance of ritual actions as well as feasting.
Figure 17. Soil matrix from the summit of Structure 20, showing the fill, Spondylus fragment, and layers of burned ea rth (from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). The remodeling of Structure 20 seems to have occurred during the Late Classic period, based on the recovered ceramic s, and the radiocarbon date of the first construction phase. The termination ritual in Lot 59 was covered over with layers of yellow/brown sandy fill that included a mini mal amount of cultural materials. The 92
93 ceramics that were recovered were finely made and painted. Censer fragments were also present in these lots (Op. 102/SubOp. A/ Lots 49-59). Additions made to Structure 20 during this time resulted in th e expansion of its height, base, and summit dimensions. In its final form Structure 20 reached a height of 4.8 m, with a basal perimeter of 20 m. The summit retained its 4 m x 4 m size. The building reached this size through the raisi ng of terraces stepping to the summ it. The architects utilized the natural north-south slope of th e land in order to make Structure 20 taller with less construction labor and materials. The north side of the structure is com posed of three relatively wide terraces spaced about 0.5 m apart. The basal wall measured 2.5 m wide and 1.6 m tall. The second was 1.3 m wide and 1.5 m tall. The th ird wall was 0.5 m wide and 0.4 m wide and most likely served as the foundation fo r a perishable superstructure. The south side (facing the plaza) included a total of seven terraces spaced about 0.5 m apart, and measuring about 0.75 m in height. Construc tion materials included both modified and unmodified limestone cobbles. The modified blocks were recovered from the south side of the structure, which would have been the most prominently viewed side by individuals in the plaza.
Figure 18. Plan drawing of the altar feature encountered on the summit of Structure 20 (from Davi s-Salazar et al. 2005). Structure 20s function as a ritual bu ilding was supported by the excavation of the summit. A square-shaped construction un it was recovered on the west side of the summit, measuring 0.8 m x 1.0 m (Figure 18). Th is could be interpreted as either a bench or an altar. The idea that this unit is an altar is supported by the discovery of an intact Spondylus valve that was intentionally placed on its surface. In addition, a completely intact Spondylus bivalve with a piece of unworked jade inside of it was found on the surface of Structure 20 just after the completion of the 2004 survey and mapping season. While the landowner has possession of this 94
95 artifact, our knowledge of its presence is ve ry important in determining the function of Structure 20. Artifacts recovered in th is Operation numbered 2,695 (see below for a discussion of the ceramic evidence). Most of these were ceramics were located in terminal debris deposits on the summit of the structure. Structure 29 Structure 29 delineates the south bounda ry of the Main Group. Two phases of construction were identified for Structure 29 as well, supporting the idea that the entire Main Group may have been remodeled during the Late Classic. The natural northern rise of the landscape was used in the construction of Structure 29, for similar reasons as Structure 20 (increased hei ght and prominence), but with different methods. A substantial amount of large rocks were used to fill in the south foundation of the building, evening it to the level of the plaza. Cultural material such as discarded pottery, groundstone, and exhauste d lithic cores and flakes are usually employed as fill in the construction of new buildings in the Naco Valley. The complete absence of cultural material in this fill indicates either that it was done very rapidly, or by individuals that had not lived in the area long enough to accumulate much garbage. This evidence could play a crucial role in establishing the cultural chronology of the site, as well as offer insight s into the sociopolit ical climate of the valley during the Late Classic. In total, the first phase of Structure 29 resulted in a basal perimeter of 18 m, a summit measuri ng 4 m x 4 m, and a height of 2.4 m. An unknown number of terraces would have s upported the summit, which appears to have been a platform with a perishable superstructure.
96 The building was remodeled sometime during the Late Classic, adding 0.9 m to its height, and extending the basal perime ter by more than 4 m. In its final phase, Structure 29 reached a height of 3.3 m, with a basal perimeter of 22.2 m, and a summit measuring 4 m x 4 m. This renovation was preceded by the destruction of the perishable superstructure from the first phase. Evidence supporting this comes from layers of burnt bajareque and burnt soil c overing fragments of a stucco floor (0.3 m thick). The second phase saw the construction of four terraces on both the northern and southern sides of the building. Thes e terraces are separated by about 0.5 m of soil, and are between 1.5 m to 2.0 m wi de and 0.5 to 0.75 m tall. Construction materials consisted of local limestone cobbles. During the second construction phase, the summit of Structure 29 was divided into three distinct chambers by walls constructed of local lime stone cobbles. These walls extended across the summit of the build ing from north to south. They measured 3.0 m to 3.75 m long, 0.6 m to 0.9 m wide, and 0.8 to 1.0 m high, and their exact function is unknown. On the unexcavated ground surface adjacent to the easternmost room, a complete Spondylus bivalve was recovered. The complete absence of bajareque in th e summit lots suggests that there was no perishable superstructure associated w ith the second phase of this building; it seems to have been an open-air platform sub-divided by three walls. This architectural style is very unique, and extremely different than the preceding structure. The difference suggests a shift in the function of the building, which would also have changed the built character of the Main Group. The presence of the
97 Spondylus bivalve suggests that Structure 29 was used as ritual building through its abandonment, though the shift in constructi on styles could indicate changing ideas about religiosity during the La te Classic. In total, 5,965 ar tifacts were recovered from Structure 29, most of which were ceramics found in terminal debris contexts on the summit of the building. Test pits were dug as an extension of the trench bisecting the axes of Structures 20 and 29. Due to time constraints, only every other meter of the axial trench was sampled, for a total of five pits In the center of th e plaza, a 2.0 m x 2.0 m platform composed of one course of se mi-worked limestone blocks was uncovered during the test pit excavations It has been suggested (Dav is-Salazar et al. 2005) that the blocks were removed from Structure 19, since worked blocks have been observed on the ground surface of this building. However, no associated artifacts were recovered and the purpose of the platform remains unknown. In addition to the axial trench, four test pits were excavated in each corner of the plaza (Operation 103/Sub-Ops. A-D). Thes e excavations revealed that the plaza was built in one phase during the Late Classic. A layer of mediumand small-sized rocks incorporating very little garbage materi al served to level the plaza. This fill layer does not stay consistent throughout the plaza, but grows no thicker than 0.4 m. Operation 103 yielded a total of 392 artifacts, mostly ceramics from the plaza fill. Artificial terraces The artificial terraces are located to th e west of the Main Group. Specifically, the architects manipulated the slope immediatel y west of Structure 19 into a series of
five terraces (Structures 89-93). Excavations we re planned at Structure 93 in order to asses their cultural ch ronology, architectural history, and the different activities that may have characterized this part of th e site (Figure 19). Structure 93 (Operation 103/Sub-Ops. A-D) was chosen because it is the lowest-lying terrace, and borders what appears to be an artificial depression built to store water. In addition, test pits were dug in each of the othe r terraces (Operation 104-107). In total, 220 lots were excavated from 38 excavation units covering a surface area of 38.0 m 2 with a total volume of 24.7 m 3 of soil removed (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). 181989 90 91 92 93 101A NmagnticoPROYECTOARQUEOLGICOCOMUNIDADPALMAREJOOperaciones 101 y 104-107, Sitio 80METROS05 2 Excavaciones en 2005101B 101C 104A 105A 106A 107A Figure 19. Map indicating the excavated po rtions of Structure 93 and associated test pits (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). 98
99 Structure 93 It is estimated that Structure 93 wa s 15 m long (southwest/northeast), 7 m wide (southeast/northwest), and 0.7 m tall. Ex cavations revealed th at it was extended from a 5 m wide, naturally level plane with a massive layer of fill. This fill layer was composed of 15,879 ceramic sherds and 5,439 other artifacts in cluding groundstone manos and metates, clay figurines, obsidian, ch ert, faunal remains, marine shell, land snail shells, and bajareque (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Included in the ceramic assemblage were fragments of finely made plates and vessels from around southeastern Mesoamerica, including Cop n, La Entrada, and the Naco and Ula Valleys. Initial analysis indicates that th ere was a shift over time in the ceramic assemblage; Early Classic Naco wares are replaced by more local and Ula wares during the Late Classic (Wells, personal communication 2007). The volume of artifacts and their high quality indicate that Palmarejo elites maintained economic ties with regional sites, and identified with a re gional social sphere materialized through ceramic styles. The close proximity of th ese artifacts to Structure 19 and the Main Group suggests that the material residue found within the terrace fill came from ritual activities (such as feasting) occurring in the south plaza (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). The quality of the artifacts suggests that el ites were primarily pa rticipating in these activities. Another important aspect of the terrace fill was the presence of four adult human burials of unknown sex. These indivi duals were interred 0.5 m below the ground surface, probably in a secondary cont ext, and facing to the east (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Human interments constitute an important line of evidence for discerning
social identity. For this reason, special at tention will be paid to the human remains recovered from Palmarejo la ter in this chapter. Southeast Elite Residential Zone The southeast elite residential zone was excavated in 2005 in order to assess the cultural chronology, constr uction history, and activitie s associated with elite residences at Palmarejo. The southeastern zone is characterized by a group formed by 11 structures (Structures 1-10, and 14) bordering a square patio. Structure 5 (Operation 100/Sub-Ops. A-D) is locate d along the southern end of the group, and was chosen for excavation because of its good preservation (Figure 20). NmagnticoPROYECTOARQUEOLGICOCOMUNIDADPALMAREJOOperaciones 100 y 108, Sitio 80METROS0 5 2conjunto residencial de la lite 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 14 Excavaciones en 2005100B 100A 100C 100D 108A 108B 108C 108D 108E 108F Figure 20. Map indicating the excavated po rtions of Structure 5 and associated plaza test pits (modified from Davis Salazar et al. 2005). 100
101 A trench was laid across its central axis and lateral excavations were cleared based on walls encountered in this initial trench. In a ddition, six test pits were excavated in a north/south line across the plaza. A total of 305 lots were excavated from 90 excavation units, c overing a surface area of 90 m 2 with an excavated volume of 34.7 m 3 of soil (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Structure 5 Structure 5 is oriented east/west, and is composed of four terraces built consecutively on top of one another in one construction phase. The first terrace measures 40.0 m in length, 0.6 m wide, and is 0.40 m high. The second terrace is 2.1 m wide and 0.40 m high, however, excavati ons were not extensive enough to determine the length of this terrace. The same shortfall applies to the third terrace, its length is unknown, but it is 1.4 m wide and 0.80 m high. The last terrace, which most likely supported a perishable superstruc ture, is 15.0 m long, 6.35 m wide, and rises 0.25 m above the third terrace (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Interestingly, a paucity of bajareque indicates that the structure mi ght have been roofed, but lacked walls. Construction materials for Structure 5 incl uded the standard local limestone cobbles, but also a notable use of schist, especially along the terrace edge facing the plaza. The broad platform created by the fourth terrace was the level of occupation, though excavations did not completely clear the summit of the structure, five distinct features were revealed (Figure 21) (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Feature #1 is located on the second terrace, and consists of an ash deposit and several large comal fragments, suggesti ng that cooking was performed on this
102 structure. Feature #2 is a bench facing north towards the plaza (running east/west) that is 4.4 m long and 1 m wide. Feature #3 is a hearth (0.90 m east/west and 0.80 m north/south) with carbon, ash, mano and metate fragments, and pieces of a large smashed plate. Features 4 and 5 are two post holes located in the front/central part of the platform, measuring 0.35 m wide and 0.30 m deep. Their location at the front of the building and the edge of a passageway indicates that they provided support for doorposts (Davis-Salazar et al 2005). Other artifacts came from a thin sheet midden located at the back of the structure (sout h). This midden and the other associated artifacts support the idea that Structure 5 was built during the Late Classic and not modified. No sherds from the Early Classic or Terminal Classic periods were found. In total, only 6,620 artifacts were recovered from Structure 5, incl uding fragments of ceramic plates, bowls, comals, and vases, groundstone manos and metates, obsidian, chert, faunal remains, and marine and la nd shells. This assemblage points to its function as a residence. Evidence for the elit e status of its residents include the high quality of the ceramics, a finely made ears pool, a clay figurine, a clay bead, and a greenstone (possibly jade) bead (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). The six test pits extending north from Structure 5 indicate that the patio was also built in only one construction phase. Bajareque, burnt soil, and small rocks were used to level out the plaza, whose surface consisted of stamped earth. A total of 675 ceramic sherds and bajareque fragments were found in the test pits, most of which were deposited in the fill layer (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005).
Figure 21. Plan drawing of the summit of Structure 5, showing Features 1-5 (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). 103
104 Northeast Elite Residential Zone The northeast elite residential zone occupies the north eastern portion of Palmarejo. Research was initially conducted in this zone in order to evaluate the idea that the northeast group functioned as a cente r of craft production. It was thought that craft production could have formed the basi s for the florescence of Palmarejo during the Late Classic. In addition, excavations were undertaken to illuminate the role Palmarejo played in the economic and political interaction spheres of the Late Classic Naco Valley. As discussed in Chapter 4, th ese goals were not met, but our excavation methods revealed information useful in assessing social identity and regional sociopolitical ties at Palmarejo. The northeast group include s eight platforms varying from .5 m to 2.5 m in height, a central plaza, and ar tificial terraces that utilize the natural hill slopes (Figure 23) (Structures 49-63 and 90). These stru ctures and terraces are grouped in a distinctly circular fashion around the plaza. Structure 54 (Operation 109/Sub-Ops. A, B, E, F) and Structure 55 (Operation 112/S ub-Op. A) are the tallest buildings in the group, extending to about 2.5 m each, while Structure 60 (Operation 111/Sub-Ops. A, B) is a .5 m high structure consisting of a hill slope modified by terraces to level out an activity area. They were chosen for excavation because of their good preservation, and in order to determine thei r functions and relationships to the other buildings in the group.
Figure 22. Map showing excavations conducted in the northeast group and north plaza (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). In addition to excavating the structures a ssociated with the northeast plaza, six 2 m x 2 m trenches (Operation 109/Sub-Op. C) were excavated in the plaza itself as part of an adaptive sampling strategy perf ormed in order to follow any important features encountere d. A total of 92.58 m 3 of soil were excavated from 629 lots from 97 units, over a total surface area of 98.4 m. Structure 54 Operation 109 included Sub-Operations A and B, which were established as part of an axial trench running northwest/southeast acro ss Structure 54, and Sub-Op C, which encompassed the test trenches in the plaza. Structure 54 has a basal perimeter of 16 m, a height of 2.5 m, with a summit of approximately 4 m x 4 m. The axial trench was 1 m wide and 12 m long. The southeastern basal wall of the platform 105
106 was followed laterally to the west in S ub-Operation E, exposing the basal wall and the summit architecture. The basal wall is 4 m long, and constructed of modified limestone cobbles. The four preserved courses extend 0.90 m from the limestone bedrock on which they were built. The excavated architecture indicates that Structure 54 reached its final form in one construction phase. The summit wall was also cleared along the southeast side of Structure 54, and consists of one course of modified limestone blocks that rest on the basal construction. It follows the basal wall the full 4 m, and rises to a height of 0.15 m. The walls both corner at the western edge of the structure, turning to the northeast. One and a half meters from the west corner the basal wall seems to turn back towards the southeast again before cornering ag ain to the northeast, giving the summit structure a T-shape (Figure 23). This cons truction style is found frequently at La Sierra (Wells, personal communication 2006). The summit architecture forms a retaining wall for the soil fill leveling out the summit. There are four terraces constructed on the northwest side of the bui lding that step down into the plaza. The construction of Structure 54 utilized the natural southeast/northwest trending hill slope by building terraces facing the plaza. These terraces included one course each of unmodified cobbles. The first, constructed on a layer of fill directly on the bedrock, was 0.5 m wide and 0.25 m tall. The second terrace was 1 m wide and 0.5 m tall. The third terrace measured 0.75 m wide and 0.5 m tall. The fourth terrace functioned as a retaining wall for a layer of dirt fill that leveled out the platform of the structure. The presence of bajareque indicates that this terrace could also have been used as a
foundation for a perishable superstructure. Only the fourth terrace that forms the summit boundary was followed with lateral excavations. Figure 23. Plan drawing of the summit a rchitecture of Structure 54 (from Wells et al. 2006). 107
108 A bench feature consisting of three very large rocks was placed on the summit platform, most likely after it was abandoned. This is suggested by the slightly higher elevation of the rocks (about 0.30 m above th e Late Classic livi ng surface), and the lack of cultural material directly beneath them. A substantial midden deposit on the back si de of Structure 54 seems to point to a long occupation history based on the observed stratigraphy. These included both finely made ceramic fragments, as well as undecorated utilitarian vessels. Beneath the midden was an impressive wall built of sligh tly modified cobbles, rising four courses above the bedrock. The presence of such a well-built wall seems to point to both the elite status of the residents and their longevity at Palmarejo. As elites they apparently could afford to construct an extremely durab le wall that speaks to the permanence of their community. In total, 10,561 artifacts were recovered from Structure 54, including manos, metates, obsidian, chert, ceramics (vessels, candeleros, incensario fragements, ocarinas, and figurines), and faunal remains. This assemblage suggests that a number of household activities were car ried out here, such as food preparation and serving, and ritual devotion. The fi nely made polychrome ceramics, figurine fragments, and sizable architecture indicat e that it was an elite residence. Patio Excavations Operation 109 consisted of several 2 m x 2 m trenches excavated in the plaza (Sub-Op. C) at the front and on the terrace at the back (Sub-Op. D) of Structure 54. The terraces at the back of the building were characterized by a small paved activity area, whose specific function remains unknown. The trenches in the plaza indicated a
109 single construction phase, capped by an unpa ved, packed earth plaza floor. Beneath this was a fill deposit composed of small stones mixed with approximately 3,120 artifacts. This cultural fill material include d finely made Late Classic ceramic dishes and plates, two figurine fragments, a candelero, two stamps, obsidian and chert fragments, several manos and metates, faunal remains, and a charred deposit that was probably a hearth. The hearth feature was lo cated directly in front of Structure 54, indicating that its use was associated with the reside nts of this building. The architectural and artifact evidence seems to indicate a long-established elite family residence. Structure 60 Excavations of Structure 60 (Operation 111/ Sub-Ops. A, B, C, D) were laid out in order to determine its function in relation to Structure 54. Structure 60 is located directly north of Structure 54, on the opposite side of the plaza, and seems to have been built in one construction phase. These excavations revealed that it was not a residence but a series of two east-west oriented terraces rising from the northeast plaza floor, supported by a considerable (a pproximately 2 m deep) fill deposit. The terraces are estimated to extend for about 4 m in a north/south direction, and to about 0.5 m in height. The two terraces that were encountered were low-lying constructions made of one course of unmodified medium-s ized limestone river cobbles (Figure 24). They retained a packed soil activity su rface, whose specific function is unknown. There were very few artifacts recovered from the surfaces of the terraces. A series of
flat stones set into the packed earth terra ce surface was the only distinct feature encountered on the summit. Its specific function is unknown. The fill layer on which these terraces were built consisted of a light brown sandy soil mixed with a high amount of ceramic and lithic artifacts. A total of 18,222 artifacts were recovered from Structur e 60 and its underlying fill deposit. These included finely made imported polychrome ceramic sherds, figurine fragments, ocarinas, obsidian, chert, groundstone, and la nd snail shells. The fill here was of the same variety as elsewhere in the plaza, but in much denser quantities. Figure 24. Plan drawing of the summit a rchitecture of Structure 60 (from Wells et al. 2006). 110
111 The most interesting feature of Structure 60 was the burial of an adult male encountered in the west side of the terrace, who was interred as the shallow end of the terrace was filled to level it with the deep er deposits on the east side. While there were no formal grave goods included, Late Classic pottery found in the associated stratigraphy dates his intermen t to this time period. In addition, the fragmented bones of a sub-adult were recovered fr om the summit of Structure 60. Structure 55 Structure 55 (Operation 113/Sub-Op. A) is located northeas t of Structure 54 and is oriented northeast/southwest, form ing the southeastern boundary of this plaza group. It is also a monumental structure, reaching 2.5 m in height, with a basal perimeter of approximately 16 m (this is an estimation because the south side is very poorly preserved, and it is unclear where th e basal walls of the building would have been), and summit platform of about 3 m x 3 m. Structure 55 was chosen for excavation in order to clarify its function in relation to Stru cture 54, that is, to test the idea that this was in fact an elite residential group. A 9 m x 1 m long trench was excavated along the buildings northwest/southeas t axis. Due to time constraints, only the front half of the axial trench was excavated, in addition to a small lateral extension (1 m) on the summit. Structure 55 was built in a similar styl e to Structure 54. That is, by utilizing the natural landscape through terrace construction. A seque nce of three terraces was encountered in the axial trench, separate d by about 1 m of packed earth between them. They accomplished a gradual inclina tion by being built and spaced rather
112 evenly; each terrace was about 0.5 m wide a nd 0.5 m tall. The walls were made of unmodified limestone cobbles, though it was notable how large the rocks were compared to those comprising Structur e 54. Construction phases of Structure 55 remain unknown due to the small percentage of the building that was excavated. A possible bench feature was encounter ed on the summit, and subsequently followed in lateral excavations (Figure 25). Consisting of two rows of medium limestone cobbles (average size: 0.20 m x 0.10 m), this feature seemed to extend further to the east, but time constraints pr ohibited its complete excavation. However, benches are common features of southeas tern Mesoamerican residences, so its presence tentatively suggests that this bu ilding could have functioned as a residential platform. The small scope of excavations at Structure 55 resulted in a low number of recovered artifacts in total, only 973 artifacts were f ound. The types most frequently encountered were obsidian fragments and ceramic sherds, further supporting the argument that this building was used as a residence.
Figure 25. Plan drawing of uncovered su mmit architecture of Structure 55, including two possible bench feat ures (from Wells et al. 2006). Soil Chemistry Results The results of the soil chemistry analysis from the Main Group plaza and Southeast Group patio are detailed in a recent article by Wells et al. (2007). The analysis of these data showed an intere sting pattern in the use of the two spaces (Wells et al. 2007). The phosphate (P) levels are highly variable in the Main plaza, but are homogenous across the Southeast patio, indicating that these spaces were used for similar activities (cooking and eating) bu t in different ways. The results of the 113
114 principal components analysis suggest that different chemicals vary by location in the Southeast patio and the Main plaza. Main plaza soils in the northern zones have varying phosphate levels, while the sout hern areas vary by barium (BA) and magnesium (Mg). The opposite is true for the western and eastern zones; western soils vary by barium and magnesium, while the eastern soils vary by phosphates. For the Southeast Group, most of the varian ce in the dataset is accounted for by aluminum (Al), barium (BA), iron (Fe), and manganese (Mn). This suggests that activities carried out in these two spaces vary by quadrant (Wells et al. 2007). Next, a discriminant function analysis was conducted on the two datasets to evaluate the results of the PCA (Wells et al. 2007). The results of this analysis provide further detail as to which activiti es were conducted in each quadrant of the Main plaza and Southeast patio. In the Ma in plaza, the northwest and northeast corners (quadrants) have diffe ring chemical signatures, while in the Southeast patio the chemical signatures are differentiated by ea st and west. A spatial analysis of these results using an interpolation technique cal led kriging results in a visible probability plot of the phosphate level as it changes over space (Fi gure 26) (Wells et al. 2007). From this figure, we can see how phosphate levels are distributed across each space. In the Main plaza, the distribution of phosphate varies over space, while there is a more even distribution of phosphates in the Southeast patio.
NmagneticMETERS0 5 20 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 -2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 South Plaza (n = 182) Southeast Plaza (n = 142) Figure 26. Kriged map of the soil analysis results from the Main and Southeast spaces, showing the distribution of P ov er the two plaza spaces (modified from Wells et al. 2007). These results suggest that there was a greater diversity and intensity of activities undertaken in the Main plaza, while the Southeast plaza was used less intensely for fewer tasks. The implications of these results for elite interactions at Palmarejo will be discussed in the following chapter (Chapter 6). Burial Data The MNI for the Palmarejo Valley is ni ne, with six individual interments and three commingled burials. Seven were determined to be adults, and two were classified as sub-adults. Th e preservation of this samp le was generally poor, and 115
116 consequently sex could only be determined for three individuals, who were all males (Novotny 2006). The individual burials were recovered from the sites of Palmarejo and Palos Blancos, a sizable settlement south of Pa lmarejo. The fact that they were single interments is where the similarities end. At Palos Blancos there were two individuals recovered during a salvage project on a reside ntial building (Structure 9) dating to the Late Classic. One individual was interred under a floor during the first phase of construction. He was flexed and oriented east/west, with the cranium facing south. An Ula marble vase was placed near the cranium at some point after the original burial, which was evidenced by several instances of burning beneath the vase, and the slightly higher elevat ion of the vase in relation to the skull. Preservation was so poor that no pathologies could be identified, a nd the individual was tentatively sexed as a male. The presence of the marble vase suggests that this person was someone of importance for the inhabitants of the building, if not the entire site of Palos Blancos (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005; Novotny 2006). Ul a marble vases are rarely found in an intact archaeological context; the presence of one in a burial gi ves archaeologists the chance to investigate the motivations be hind placing a socially valued good in a burial. This is also an important indicator of social identity and affiliation. Most likely manufactured at the site of Travesia in the neighbor ing Ula Valley, this vase suggests that the residents of Palos Blan cos were connected not only to important economic resources, but also to region al ritual practices and iconography.
117 A second individual was recovered from St ructure 9, and was associated with the second phase of construction. The skeleton was interred beneath the lower terrace floor in front of the north wall of the upper terrace, in a flexed position, oriented east/west, with the cranium facing north. Preservation was considerably better for this skeleton, which was identified as a male ag ed 20-34 years at the time of death. He had survived iron-deficiency anemia, as well as several infections. His teeth showed a predictable amount of calculus build up a nd caries for his age. His interment in position in Structure 9, just above the indi vidual with the Ulua marble vase, could indicate his importance to the community. In fact, his burial could have been a commemoration of the interment of the previ ous individual. This could suggest that kinship ties and ancestor worship were impor tant parts of the ritual life of Palos Blancos residents (Davis-Salazar et al 2005; Novotny 2006). Two more individuals were recovered from structures at Palos Blancos, but their preservation was poor and archaeological contexts ill-defined. Theref ore, no information could be recovered concerning their age, sex, or burial position (Novotny 2006). The individual burial at Palmarejo was recovered during the 2006 field season, and was located in the fill of Stru cture 60, a terrace construction associated with a household group whose exact function is unknown (Figure 27). This individual was a surprisingly well-preserved, primary in terment, and had been placed in a tightly flexed position, oriented east/west, with the cranium facing north. He was an older male, aged 40-50 years at the time of death, when he was laid directly on the bedrock beneath a layer of angular ro cks and fill that would compri se the eastern end of the terrace. There were no grave goods associated with this burial. He seemed to be in
good health during his life, since his skel eton only displayed conditions that are associated with age such as calculus, dent al wear, and osteoart hritis. This suggests that he could have been a member of an elite family at Palmarejo. His association with a residential group is i ndicative of ancestor veneration, and adds to the idea that the presence of ancestors contributes to social legitimacy and land claims, as argued by other archaeologists working in Mesoamerica (McAnany 1995). Figure 27. Burial #1 recovered from Stru cture 60 at Palmarejo (Wells et al. 2006). 118
119 A second burial was found associated w ith Structure 60. Fragmented long bones and cranial fragments belonging to a perinate were recovered from the uppermost terrace. No information was recovered beyond this, due to the poor preservation of the bones and the ill-def ined archaeological context (Novotny 2006). The commingled burials recovered at Palmarejo were similar to the individual in that they were placed in a terrace construction (Figure 28). These four individuals were found in terraces constructe d west of the civic-ceremonial plaza. They were found associated with an arti fact assemblage most likely reflecting activities performed in the nearby plaza mano and metate fragments, finely made ceramic serving plates, lithics, faunal remain s (including an entire deer carcass), and bajareque. Sex could not be determined for a ny of the individuals, but all were aged as adults (Novotny 2006). They were mostly flexed and placed facing east, but preservation prevented the excavators from determining this unequivocally. Pathologies were difficult to identify, also because of the preservation. These individuals were most likely in a primary context, since most of the bones of the hands and feet were present. Usually when bones were curated in a secondary interment, the smaller bones (phalanges a nd metatarsals) were left behind (McAnany 1995).
Figure 28. Burial # 4 from Structure 93 at Palmarejo (Davis-Salazar et al. 2005). Summary Excavations at Palmarejo revealed ev idence that falls under the previously discussed categories for evaluating social identity: site pl anning, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials. A dditional information, such as the use of plaza spaces garnered from soil chemistry data further elucidates elite activities. The Palmarejo site plan includes a Main Group and associated elite residential neighborhoods. It is more rec tilinear than spherical in ove rall shape. The monumental buildings of its Main Group and southeast elite resident ial zone are arranged around rectilinear plazas. The anomaly in the site plan seems to be the northeast elite 120
121 residential zone, whose buildings and te rraces are arranged around a more spherical plaza space. Monumental architecture was encountered in the Main Gr oup, southeast and northeast elite residential zones, including Structures 20, 29, 55, 54, and 5. Trenches excavated across the central axes of thes e buildings revealed their construction phases, functions, architectural styles, and dimensions. Artifacts recovered enabled an approximate understanding of the buildings function and time periods when the structures were built and occupied. The earliest occupation of Palmarejo da tes to at least the Early Classic (AD 300-600), based on the radiocarbon dates from Structure 20. Our knowledge of this time period is extremely limited, but it is ev ident that there was an earlier ritual structure built and destroyed previous to the construction of St ructure 20 during the Late Classic (AD 600-900). The two constructio n phases of Structure 29 indicate that it could possibly have been remodeled at the same time as Structure 20, but without reliable dates this remains speculative. The architectural styles of these buildings are typical of Naco Valle y ritual structures. The excavation results from Structure 5 in the southeast residential zone are somewhat surprising. Structures in southeas tern Mesoamerica (especially residential structures) are continuously modified and e xpanded as the needs and numbers of their residents change (Schortman and Ur ban 1994; Stockett 2005; Urban 1986). The single construction phase of St ructure 5 and the thin sheet midden consisting only of Late Classic ceramics on its south side suggest that this residence was sporadically
122 occupied only during the Late Classic. In contrast, the monumental architecture in the northeast zone seems to have been occupi ed for a much longer period of time. Monumental architecture excavated in th e northeastern elite residential zone included Structures 54 and 55. The results indica ted that the architectural styles of the buildings were also similar to those typical of La Sierra, includ ing T-shaped summits and the use of the natural landscape. The deep midden and fill beneath the terraces and plaza floor suggest a long occupation history for this group. Ceramics and other artifacts recovered fr om all zones of th e site lend further insight into social identification. Ar tifacts found throughout the northeast group, including obsidian, manos and metates, a hearth feature, faunal remains, and both utilitarian ceramics and serving plates and vessels, suggest that th is was a residential patio group. The high quality and imported na ture of the ceramics further indicates that the residents were an elite group, most likely a family. In addition the terrace and plaza fill included such ritual items as ocarinas, figurines, and imported polychrome serving plates and vessels. Their presence is suggestive of an affiliation with regional social and ritualized practices. Their use as construction fill indicates that this identification was sustained th rough the Late Classic period. In the Main Group, censer fragments, ritual deposits and Spondylus shells are used to signify it as a place of ritu al importance (Joyce 1986). Joyce (1986:324) identifies Spondylus shells with a regional pattern that included Travesia and Cerro Palenque in the Ula Valley, Copn, and the Guatemalan Highlands. In total, five Spondylus shells (whole and broken) have been recovered from the Palmarejo Main Group. This suggests that Palmarejo elites may have affiliated themselves with a
123 regional socioreligious identity. Their regi onal connections are further evinced by the amount of finely made imported polychrome ceramics present in the fill of Structure 93, which are also from zones such as the Ula Valley and Copn. The mortuary data from the Palmarejo Valley includes evidence of individual as well as commingled interments. In general, individuals were flexed and interred oriented east/west, with cr ania facing either north or south. No grave goods were found, except for the Ulua marble vase, which is an extraordinary circumstance for which further analysis is n eeded. Health in the Palmarejo Valley seems to have been good, as limited pathologies beyond those attrib utable to age have been recognized. This is very tentative, however, since pr eservation prohibited the sample from being truly representative. The individual interments at Palos Blancos and Palmarejo can be interpreted as associated with ancestor veneration, ev idenced by their burial within residences and residential groups, generally in the northern areas. The individual interment at Palmarejo is interesting because while the burial could demonstrate the importance of ancestors, it also is an example of a pattern unique to Palmarejo so far interments in public terraces instead of private resi dences. The commingl ed and individual Palmarejo burials were placed in terraces located in public spaces. This is an interesting trend that deserves further inquiry. Further excavations of residential neighborhoods at Palmarejo will suppor t or refute this emerging pattern. The presence of monumental archite cture (and its renovation), imported luxury items such as Spondylus shells, greenstone, obsidian, and polychrome pottery indicates a certain degree of regional connectedness. The style of the imported items
124 points not only to economic prosperity, but also to an awareness of regional manifestations of social identity, and the ac tive incorporation of that into ritual and quotidian practices. In the next chapter, these data from Palmarejo will be synthesized and analyzed within the context of the Naco Valley dataset. Regional elite interaction and social identity will be assessed for the Palmarejo dataset presented here.
125 6. Discussion: Elite Interaction and Iden tity Formation at Late Classic (AD 650900) Palmarejo As discussed in Chapter 2, site plans and the architecture that comprise them are at once representations of a society as well as active participants in constructing it (Ashmore 1991, 2002; Houston 1998; Parker Pearson and Richards 1994). The organization of a community can be emblem atic of its worldview and belief system (Preucel 2001). In general, Palmarejos site plan fits the site pl anning model outlined by Urban (1986) for the Naco Valley (reviewed here in Chapter 3). However, certain characteristics such as the style and pl acement of elite residential zones and the orientation of the ball court, set the site apart. The site planning traits common to the Naco Valley include 1) proximity to resources, most importantly water, stone for construction, and agricultural land, 2) terraced structures that utili ze the natural topography in the construction of buildings, 3) irregular, non-orthogonal site pl ans, and 4) organization of st ructures in a circular shape around a central patio (Urban 1986:672). Fo llowing Wobst (1977), visible material culture can be used as a means of informati on exchange. Site planni ng is one of the most visible and immediate ways of conveying a social identity (Preucel 2001; Schortman and Nakamura 1991). In this case, the presence of Naco-style characteristics at Palmarejo could imply that Palmarejo elites were atte mpting to affiliate with La Sierra elites through the use of similar site planning principles, or that the individuals who built these buildings were from La Sierra origina lly (Ashmore 1987; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Schortman and Urban 1994). In the Naco region, site planning and construction
126 techniques generally follow the characteri stics outlined by Urban (1986). However, I would argue that each site ta kes this Naco pattern and expresses it in a distinctive way. Specifically, the arrangement, orientation, and function of the site centers and surrounding patio groups vary by site. For example, El Coyote and La Sierra ma intained D-shaped main plazas located at the northern end of the site (Schortm an and Urban 1994), formed by rectangular and pyramidal platforms faced with cut-stone blocks (Schwartz 2002), and featuring ritual buildings in their limestone-paved central plazas (Stockett 2005; Wells 2003). Elites resided in some of the monumental platform s in the site centers, though there were elite patio groups directly adjacent to both main plazas, featuring ball courts. However, La Sierras D-shape is oriented east to west, while El Coyote is oriented north to south. La Sierras range structures form the boundary of the main plaza, while the tall pyramidal temple structures are located in the center of the plaza. The ritual structures in El Coyotes main plaza are small platforms, with the tall temple structures located along the eastern border and the range a nd palace buildings forming the western border. Evidence of communal ritual feasting was recovered from El Coyotes main plaza (Wells 2003), which suggests that El Coyotes plaza was an integrated community space. This is distinctly different from La Sierras site core, which was evidently limited to elite sociopolitical and religious activities (Schortman et al 2001; Schortman and Urban 1994). Therefore, while La Sierra and El Coyote share the same spatial plan and incorporate the same types of buildings into their site centers, th ey each display unique characteristics that could be emblematic of local identities.
127 Las Canoas displays distinctiveness in its site plan as well. While considerably smaller in size than either El Coyote or La Si erra, Las Canoass site plan incorporates the same types of monumental range and temple structures surrounding a Main Plaza in its site center. However, these buildings are arra nged in a rectilinear fashion as opposed to the D-shape exhibited by La Sierra and El Coyote. Furthermore, Las Canoass Main Plaza was not paved with limestone but seems to have been covered in orange clay, and was free from the ritual structures that were included in the otherwise open plazas at the other two sites (Stockett 2005). In addition, the Main Plaza at Las Canoas included an elite residential component in addition to serving ritual f unctions. While some monumental buildings in the La Sierra and El Coyote site centers co uld have served as elite residences, those at Las Canoas we re unequivocally iden tified as domestic households (Stockett 2005). Interestingly, Stockett (2005) argues that renovations of the Las Canoas site plan and monumental architecture may indicate a shift in affiliations from the Naco to Cacaulapa valleys by the end of the Late Clas sic. Over the course of three construction phases, buildings in the Las Canoas site cente r were transformed from low-lying cobble structures bordering an unpaved, irregularly shaped patio. This style is similar to a typical Naco-style household group. Stockett (2005: 507) suggests that the individuals who settled Las Canoas could have come from th e Naco valley and c onstructed their patio group in what would have been a familiar style. Subsequent renovations adde d terraces and bolstered stairs made of cut-stone blocks, which resulted in a more rectilinear Main Plaza that was then paved with orange clay. Stockett (2005:508) suggest s that the ability of Las Canoas elites to make these
128 additions points to an increas e in their economic prosperity and political strength. By the final phase of construction, the Main Pl aza buildings had increased in height and exhibited elaborate architecture in the form of cut block bolstered stairs. In terms of style, Stockett (2005:509) sees no regional parallels between the orange clay, bolstered stairs, and rectilinear plaza, suggestin g instead that Las Canoas plaza became a relatively distinctive space when compared to others in the region. This was achieved, I suggest, by incorporating archit ectural or spatial elements observed at other locales, and then modifying them to meet local needs and ideals. As Las Canoas prospered, its early ties to the Naco Valley were visibly transformed into a distinctive local style indicative of increased independen ce. One influence seems to have been the Cacaulapa Valley, seen in the tall, square, temple-style buildings at Las Canoas that reference the style of the eas tern temples at El Coyote. Stocketts (2005) study lends fascinating insights into regiona l interactions between Naco and Cacaulapa elites over the course of the Late Classic. The implicati ons of this observation are significant for Palmarejo because it provides a model for the stylistic manifestati ons of regional elite interactions. Palmarejos site plan seems to adhere to the Naco standard as outlined by Urban (1986). Following Weissner (1983 ) Palmarejos site plan coul d be referencing a regional social identity embodied in the built environmen t. The settlement is located close to the best agricultural soils in th e valley, which suggests that e lites inhabiting Palmarejo had control over important agricultural resources and could have transl ated economic success into political power (Verdaas donk 2007). Stone for construction materials is also locally available and may also have been controlled by Palmarejo elites. Use of these materials
129 in constructing the monumental site core rein forced elite control over local resources and marked the landscape with stone re presentations of their power. The second principle of Naco site pl ans outlined by Urban (1986:672) is the use of the natural topography in the construction of buildings. At Palmarejo, this principle is used in two places in order to elevate importa nt structures. The Main Group is built on a north/south trending slope that was raised and leveled with a c onsiderable amount of large limestone rocks. Structure 20 rests on the north summit of this slope, while Structure 29 is supported by a 2 m deep deposit of rocky fill. In this case, it is possible that this was done in order to elevate this important religious and administrative zone above the rest of the site, perhaps as a symbol of dominance or power. In addition, several levels of terraces were used to grade the western side of this slope (i.e., Structure 93) as it descended to a possible reservoir. The other area where this technique was used was in the northeast elite residential zone. Here, the entire group rests on a na tural rise whose slopes were terraced and modified to suit the needs of the residents. Structure 54 in cludes several terraces on its northern side that enhance th e natural rise of the land, bol stered by a 4 m high basal wall on the southern edge. While investigations di d not probe beneath the platform floor, it is likely that there is a significant amount of fill retained by the southern wall to form the platform. Structure 55 seems to have been constructed in this way as well, but excavations were not extensive enou gh to confirm this unequivocally. The third (and most distinctive) standard of a Naco-style site plan is an irregular or circular arrangement of buildings. This can be seen in the D-shaped main plazas of El Coyote and La Sierra, which include administra tive, ritual, and elite residential buildings.
Palmarejos Main Group adheres to the region al standard of including administrative and ritual buildings, but there is no evidence that ei ther of the range structures were used as domestic residences. Furthermore, the Pa lmarejo Main Group does not exhibit an irregular or semi-circular form similar to that of La Sierra or El Coyote, and the plaza floor, while made of limestone, is not a soli d pavement but a loose dispersion of small pebbles. In addition, the placemen t of the Main Group is not in the northern portion of the site, as seen at each of the other three sites, bu t in the west-central ar ea. In fact, the spatial form of Palmarejos Main Group most closel y resembles the rectil inear layout of Las Canoas main plaza (Figure 29). 9 8 9 7 9 6 1 1 3 2 N LasCanoasMainPlaza NP ROYECTO A RQUEOLGICO C OMUNIDAD P ALMAREJOCivic-ceremonialCenter20 29 19 Figure 29. Las Canoas Main Plaza (modified from Stockett 2005) and Palmarejo Main Group (modified from Davis-Salazar et al. 2005) showing a similar rectilinear form. 130
131 Another significant difference in site pla nning is the placement of elite residences. At La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas elites inhabite d some of the monumental platforms comprising the Main Groups, directly adjacent to administrative and ritual buildings. At La Sierra, this resulted in a very inward-facing placement of buildings suggesting the consolidation of political and religious power in the hands of the elites. The main plazas at La Sierra Las Canoas show ed evidence for elite residential occupation of certain structures, though the evidence for ritual events such as feasts and the lack of structures in the center of the Las Canoas plaz a point to more social integration at these sites. In addition, most elites inhabited patio groups outside, but in close proximity to, the Main Group. This is how Palmarejos site plan is organized. Elite residences at Palmarejo were built in the southeastern and northeas tern zones, close to the Main Group but not within it. Their close proximity indicates importance and control, but the separation between dwelling and governing points to a slightly different so cial organization. In the case of Palmarejo, the basic site planning principles outlined for the Naco Valley seem to fit very well. Therefore, we could infer that in constructing a Naco-style site Palmarejo elites were affiliating themselv es with Naco, principally La Sierra (e.g., Weissner 1983). This interp retation would support Schortman and Nakamuras (1991) argument that an elite identity was made salient in southeastern Mesoamerica in the form of site plans and monumental architecture in order to reinfo rce hierarchical control of important economic resources. Palmarejos site plan has all the necessary pieces (Main Group, elite residences, ball cour t) that identify it as an elite community connected stylistically to others in the region.
However, as Stockett (2005) points out, while each site in the Naco Valley constructed administrative and ritual cente rs around open public plazas, they tended to take these principles and make them their ow n. At Palmarejo, these principles include the location of the Main Group, the placement of th e elite residential pati os, the orientation of the ball court, the limestone pebbled plaza floor, and the rectilinea r form of the main plaza. Therefore, in constructing their co mmunity, Palmarejo elites may have been attempting to affiliate with a regional social identity while maintaining local distinctiveness. Stockett ( 2005) links the expression of a localized identity with increasing economic success and independence, which then resulted in a shift way from Naco style architecture over time. I would argue that this could potentially hold true for Palmarejo as well, though I acknowledge that th e data from Palmarejo needs to be refined before this can be argued definitively. However, an examination of the architecture and artifacts from the Northeast and Southeast groups support this argument (Figure 30). My interpretation assumes that these groups were both occupied during the Late Classic, based on preliminary ceramic analysis. N P ROYECTO A RQUEOLGICO C OMUNIDAD P ALMAREJO Figure 30. Northeast and Southeast Groups at Palmarejo (modified from DavisSalazar et al. 2005). 132
133 Evidence for elite occupation includ ed imported polychrome pottery and figurines, and monumental arch itecture, but their dissonance in planning suggests distinct kinship groups, social strategies, or changes in social affiliation over time. Furthermore, their associated artifact assemblages suggest different occupation histories and social functions. The northeast zone shares Naco-style pl anning principles in its terracing of the natural topography, irregularity of its plaza, and semi-circular organization of its buildings. The style of this group is unique among the other Palmarejo plazas, which take a more rectilinear shape. In addition, the summit architectu re of Structure 54 seems to take a T-shape, which is characteristic of so me buildings at La Si erra (Wells, personal communication 2006), while a single construc tion phase suggests a sustained function over time. Serving vessels, manos and metates, obsidian, faunal remains, and a possible hearth feature identify Structure 54 as a residence. A long period of occupation is supported by the continuous stratigraphic record. The interment of an adult male in the fill of Structure 60 could possibly point to a long occupation history, but also indicates a sense of permanen ce. If this individual was a resident of the Northeast Group, then his bur ial within the residential compound could be interpreted as a demonstration by his relativ es of their permanency. Following McAnany (1995:100), interring family members in reside ntial patio groups worked to build a genealogy of place that legitimized local land claims and linked people to their community in a permanent way. His apparent good health suggests a successful social standing. The flexed position and placement of this burial on the outside of foundation walls is emblematic of what seems to be a broader Naco valley mortuary pattern.
134 The association of the individual with terrace architecture seems to be an emerging burial pattern at Palmarejo, based on th e extant dataset. In order to fully test this idea, excavations need to be carried out in terraces at other regional sites. The four burials (three adults and one sub-adult, all of unknown sex) recovered from Structure 93 were also flexed and placed in the fill of a terrace without specific associated grave goods. Burials are suggestive of personal, nonpublic affiliations (Hegmon 1992) and add another dimension to the construction of a so cial identity. At Palmarejo, people seem to have been interred in rather public places. Bu rial #1 from Structure 60 is most likely part of a kin group that inhabited that area, but he is not associated with a residential structure. Likewise, the individuals in the fill of Struct ure 93 were interred away from residential contexts. While the flexed positioning of the bodi es is similar to other sites in the Naco Valley, their placement in terraces is not. This pattern may illustrate some maintenance of local character among other regiona l influences such as site planning and architecture. Further evidence supporting a regional so cial identity includes the frequent occurrence of southeast Mesoam erican ceramic ritual items in the plaza and Structure 60 fill. Ceramic ritual paraphernalia common to southeastern Mesoamerica include zoomorphic ocarinas, candeleros, incensarios, and figurines. Ocarin as recovered from Palmarejos northeastern group de picted turtles, birds (per haps vultures), and monkeys (Figure 31). These styles di rectly resemble those found in both the immediate Naco Valley (Las Canoas, El Coyote, La Sierra) and in the greater region (Sula Plain and Copn Valley) (Stockett 2005). The figurines recovered from the same fill are also formed in a southeast Mesoamerican style. Most notable is the presence of several Napoleon hat figurines, which are co mmon in all southeast Mesoamerican
assemblages, including Las Canoas, the N aco Valley, Sula Plain, and the Ula Valley (Joyce 1991; Stockett 2005; Tercero 1996; Urban 1986). Figure 31. Monkey, bird, and turtle ocarin as recovered from the Northeast group. 135 Figure 32. Napoleon Hat figurines recovered from the Northeast group. Figure 33. Example of an undecorated ca ndelero recovered from the Northeast Group.
136 Molds have been recovered from Las Ca noas, the Naco Valley, and Suyapa, a Class 2 site in the Palmarejo Valley. Palmar ejo elites could have imported figurines from surrounding sites, however local production ca n not be ruled out. Nevertheless, the widespread occurrence of these figurines sugges ts that Palmarejo residents participated in a regional belief system (Figure 32). Candeleros are also used in ritual pr actices, and are found in all southeast Mesoamerican assemblages (Figure 33). They are sometimes decorated with perforated dots or lines, but are more commonly le ft unadorned. The ones recovered from the Northeast Group at Palmarejo were unembellis hed and seemed to have served a more quotidian function, perhaps with in this household group. The presence of these forms at Palmarejo is suggestive of an affiliation with the broader southeast Mesoamerican belief system and ritual practices. Their recovery from fill deposits beneath the plaza and Structur e 60 suggests that this connection was sustained through time. Ceramic production ev idence is so far absent at Palmarejo, suggesting that these items were imported from surrounding areas. This suggests that Palmarejo elites were not only connected to other sites through common ritual practices, but that they had the economic means to tr ade for these important symbols of social identity. Though these items were found in the North east Group, I hesitate to link their use directly to the occupa nts of the group. While this may be the case, it is almost impossible to identify their specific use and function befo re they were discarded into the construction fill. However, based on their presence at Palmarejo, I infer an affiliation in belief systems between Palmarejo and southeastern Mesoamer ica. In addition, the quality and imported
137 nature of the ceramics (those found in terminal debris contexts, not in the construction fill), monumental architecture, and the good hea lth of the individual buried in Structure 60 indicate that the residents of these structures held a re latively high soci al position. The prolonged occupation and intensive use of the buildings suggests a prominent, established group at Palmarejo who was connected through trade and a shared belief system to the rest of the Naco Valley and southeastern Mesoamerica. Evidence recovered from the Southeastern Group also suggests a regional soci al identity, but provide s a contrast to the data from the Northeastern Group in terms of its occupation history. The planning of the Southeast Group is the most noticeable difference distinguishing it from the Northeast Group. It includes a wide, rectangular patio bordered by monumental range structures with a ball court at its nort h end. The ball court is an important addition to the community in that it represents a strong identification with a pan-Mesoamerican ideology. A distinct lack of Early Classic ceramics in the patio test pits close to the courts s outhern building suggest that its construction took place concomitantly with the rest of the plaza duri ng the Late Classic. The patios rectilinear shape is an anomaly for typical Naco-style patio groups (discussed above). Only one structure has been investigated in the Southeast Group; the results of this excavation may shed light on changes in Palmarejos sociopolitical organization over time. Excavations of Structure 5 revealed one construction phase, which ceramic evidence dates to the Late Classic. Artifact types identify this building as an elite residence, but the thin sheet midden recove red from the back of the structure suggests episodic occupation. Test pits extending acr oss the plaza produced burnt bajareque and rock fill with limited ceramic inclusions (675 total sherds and bajareque fragments from 6
138 m 3 of excavated soil), as opposed to the high occurrence of ceram ic and lithic debris used to construct the northeast group. The constructio n of the southeast elite residential zone suggests economic prosperity and a transfor mation in sociopolitical organization during the Late Classic. One possible scenario is that the Sout heast Group was constructed at the same time as the additions that were made to St ructure 20 and 29 in the Main Group. If this was the case, then there was a fairly sudden and unequivocal incr ease in immediately recognizable southeast Mesoamerican referent s, including the ball court, an additional elite plaza, and more prominent ritual build ings. The scale of this construction project indicates considerable elite control over local labor and resources (Schortman et al. 2001). This refurbishment could be interprete d as a result of economic prosperity for Palmarejo elites, or as demonstration of power made by a new elite group originating elsewhere in the Naco Va lley, upon their incursion into the Palmarejo Valley. The data recovered from Structure 5 coul d support either argument. The style of the buildings and the presence of a ball court ar e consistent with regional features of an elite zone. The postholes on the upper platform suggest that it was roofed, but the paucity of bajareque recovered from the building suggests that it lacked standing walls (DavisSalazar et al. 2005). While this may have been sufficient for certain times of year, surely a more substantial shelter would have been required during other seasons. The artifact assemblage, though scarce, is suggestive of an elite residence; th erefore it would seem that the southeast elite residential group was only utilized during certain times of the year. Whether it was an outside group or a local group that lived elsewhere for most of
139 the year is open to debate. However, this interpretation has interesting implications for the sociopolitical organization of Palmarejo. Regardless of where they originated, as elites the inhabitants of the southeast group would have controlled the economic and political fortunes of Palmarejo, but it seems as though they administered the commun ity through visits during certain times of the year. This could have been accomplished by elites living at another site, but a more probable explanation lies within the Palmarej o Valley. A full-scale survey of the valley identified four Class 2 sites that seem to be situated in close proximity to natural resources (see Chapter 4 for a discussion of the site classification system of the Palmarejo Valley) (Wells et al. 2004; Hawk en 2007). It is plausible that in order to maintain control over these resources Palmarejo welcomed elites from Pacayal, Suyapa, Palos Blancos and El Morro to reside in the southeas tern group for parts of the year. The idea that this patio was only used peri odically is further supported by the soil chemistry results. Soil chemistry combined with artifact analysis can help us infer where elites found it important to conduct certain activities. Uniform levels of phosphates (organic materials indicating food processi ng or preparation) were found across the southeast patio. This sugges ts that though the space is the largest open space at Palmarejo, it was not used to host large ga therings of people (Wells et al. 2007). In contrast, the soil chemistry results fr om the Main Group show higher levels of phosphates, but varying by location or quadrant. This sugge sts that certa in activities undertaken by a large group of people, such as ritual feasting, were taking place in the civic-ceremonial plaza. Differing chemical signatures in certain areas of the plaza indicate that specific activities took place in di fferent locations (Wells et al. 2007). This is
140 supported by the artifact assemblage from Structure 93, which included polychrome serving plates and vessels, censer fragments, li thic blades, and an entire deer carcass. These material residues are t hought to be refuse from activities taking place in the Main Group. The more frequent use of the Main Group re inforces its centrality to the social life of Palmarejo residents. The style of its temple buildings and artifact assemblages reference not only a Naco valley belief system, but a Mesoamerican one as well. An important representation of this affiliation is the presence of Spondylus shells on the summits of each building in the Main Group, a nd cached in two places within Structure 20. This practice has been identified at Travesa and Cerro Palenque in the Ula Valley, at Copn, and as far away as Guatemala and Belize (Joyce 1986:324). The concentration of these devotions at the Main Group indica tes that these rituals were essential in maintaining the elite power structure. The Southeast Group could have been constructed as a way to bring individuals from Class 2 sites to participate in communal ritual practices controlled by Palmarejo elites. Thus, southeast Mesoamerican-style site planning, architecture, and artifacts such as imported polychrome vessels, ceramic censers, and Spondylus shells might have conveyed a pow erful affiliative message to the outlying population. In this way, the power ga rnered by Palmarejos elites might have stemmed from the ability to access the potent charisma of r ecognized but distant ritual practices (Helms 1998).
141 Summary Elite social identity was formed at Pa lmarejo through the use of material styles that were familiar to the greater Naco Valley. Much like the residents of other communities in the valley, the resident elites took these commonalities and made them their own. Thus we see both similarities a nd idiosyncrasies in the style of artifacts throughout the valley. At Palmarejo, it seems to have been the style of ritual objects and practices tying elites to a broader southeast Mesoamerican affiliation. Site planning techniques and monumental architecture at Palmarejo parallel the styles seen in the Naco Valley in terms of 1) close proximity to resources, most importantly water, stone for construction, and ag ricultural land, 2) terr aced structures that utilized the natural topogra phy in their construction, 3) irregular, non-orthogonal site plans, and 4) the organization of structures in a circular shap e around a central patio (Urban 1986:672). However the non-orthogonal s ite plan and circular patio group at Palmarejo are limited to the Northeast Group. The long occupation history of this group could suggest that it was esta blished earlier in the sites history, perhaps indicating an early affiliation with the Naco Valley. Other distinctions include the limestone plaster plaza in the Main Group, and the placement of elite residences away from the ritual and administrative locus. These aspects of site c onstruction seem to be unique to Palmarejo. The rectilinear style of th e Southeast Group and the Main Group seems to have been achieved through renovations conducted during the Late Classic. It has been argued (Stockett 2005) that similar renovations at the Las Canoas site center correspond to a decline in elite power at La Si erra during the Late Classic. This could be emblematic of increased economic and political independe nce at both Palmarejo and Las Canoas.
142 This is further supported by the lack of La Sierra produced ceramics present in the Palmarejo dataset. Field observa tions indicate that the majority of ceramic forms, while distinctly southeast Mesoamerican in style, do not correspond to specif ic La Sierra styles. This suggests that Palmarejo elites were part of a much broader affiliative system and not dominated in a political, economic or ideological sense by any one polity. Burial data is also indicative of a fusion of local and regional styles. The positioning and orientation of the bodies corres ponds to patterns throughout the valley, but the placement of individuals in terra ces seems to be unique to Palmarejo. The presence of the Ula marble vase in a pr esumably elite residential context at Palos Blancos illustrates the complexity of elite inte ractions within the Palmarejo Valley itself, and reinforces the idea that elites possesse d enigmatic symbols of their power. The combination of these datasets lends in sights into the ways that identity was expressed visibly in southeast Mesoamerican site planning, archite cture, and ritual ceramic styles, while distinctiveness was main tained by modifying regional styles with local techniques. Ritual objects and spaces se em to have held the most importance in maintaining a regional social identity, a nd perhaps in consolidating local power.
142 7. Conclusion The forging of a social identity necessita tes material signifiers that designate group boundaries and affiliations (Barth 1969). Without these physical referents distinctions could not be made between groups, rendering self-ascribed affiliations virtually useless. The material component of affiliation makes archaeological studies of social identity particularly relevant in illuminating connections between populations. The goals of this thesis were, 1) to cons ider how and why social identity is linked to material culture, 2) to explore how iden tity is manifest between communities in a specific region, and 3) to eval uate this anthropo logical issue using an archaeological dataset from the site of Palmarejo, northwest Honduras. In order to reach these goals, I considered the Palmarejo dataset from a communicative (e.g., Wobst 1977) and emblemic/assertive (e.g., Weissner 1983, 1985) perspective. Following Wobst (1977) I argued that information is exchanged by the chosen style of an artifact. In this sense, style plays a functional role in soci al relationships. While style can play an important role in social relations, Wobsts (1977) functionalis t approach relegated style to a passive position by stating that an artifact must be visible to relay its information. Following Weissner (1983, 1985) I argued th at style can still convey ce rtain kinds of information when it is invisible. Emblemic style accounts for outwardly visible, public messages. Assertive style occurs in a private venue, and is most often used to convey personal or ritual messages. By identifying two features of style, emblemic and assertive, Weissner confers a participatory role to material culture, while emphasizing the context and conditions that make style re levant at any given time.
143 Following archaeological applications of the emblemic/assertive approach, several lines of evidence were identifie d as contributing to the formation and maintenance of an elite social identity: site plans, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials (e.g., Bartlett and McAna ny 2001; Hegmon 1992; Plog 1992; Schortman and Nakamura 1991; Schortman and Urban 2001; Stockett 2005). Each of these categories conveyed different affiliative messages; site plans and monumental architecture embody the emblemic view of style, while ceramics and human burials personify the assertive aspect of style. Contextualization is an important component of the emblemic/assertive approach. Weissner (1983) argues that a certain styl e and the messages it conveys are contigent upon sociohistorical context. In order to deve lop expectations for what elite style would look like at Palmarejo, I described the site pl ans, monumental archit ecture, ceramics, and human burials for three other sites in the Naco region: La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas. At each site there is evidence for affiliation with broader southeast Mesoamerican traditions, while incorporating these ideas into local styles. In addition, it is apparent that changes in the stylistic representation of these artifacts correlated with shifting regional relationships, principally the decline of La Sierras influence during the Terminal Classic. Thus, I expected elite id entity at Palmarejo to be manifest through these same lines of evidence, and to displa y both local and regional characteristics. I argued that a regional elite affiliation at Palmarejo was conveyed outwardly by the southeast Mesoamerican style of its s ite plan and monument al architecture (i.e., emblemic style). However, modifications to standard Naco styles suggests a local influence. A localized identity was also represented by the location and placement of
144 human burials, which seems to be a pattern unique to Palmarejo. The style of ceramic ritual artifacts (i.e., figurines, ocarinas incensarios, and candeleros) suggests an incorporation of ritual practices that are found throughout southeast Mesoamerica. Further evidence for this is the style of the te mple structures (Structure 20 and 29) and the caching of Spondylus shells through the civic-ceremonial center. I argued that ritual practices referencing a wider belief system could have been a distinct stylistic communicative strategy by Palmarejo elites to affiliate themselves with regional elite populations. This study represents a preliminary compar ison of the material residues of social identity at Palmarejo with similar signatures at other sites in the N aco region. In order to refine the ideas presented here, further ar chaeological investigations need to be undertaken at different locales within Palmarej o, as well as additional laboratory analysis. Future excavations of other structures in th e Southeast Group would he lp clarify elite use of the group and how it changed over time. This could lend insight in to shifts in elite power or regional affiliation. A thorough asse ssment of the ceramic data from Palmarejo would also elucidate elite regi onal connections, as well as offer considerable information as to the function and occupation histor y of the Northeast Group. Clarifying the relationship between these two groups will add to our understanding of elite social identity within Palmarejo. In order to further evaluate the idea that Palmarejo elites identified with a regional belief system, excavations need to be conducted at the Palmarejo ball court. Ball courts are important signifiers of political and ritu al power throughout Mesoamerica (Fox et al. 1996). Excavations of the Palmarejo ball cour t would contribute important information
145 concerning the date of its construction, and th e length and intensity of its use. Comparing these data to those from the ball court excavat ions at La Sierra and El Coyote would help refine our understanding of ritualized elite interactions, and how these may have contributed to a region al social affiliation. Finally, archaeological inferences of so cial identity and ethnicity reach beyond prehistoric populations. In f act, this study has important implications for the modern people of the Palmarejo Valley. By incor porating an applied perspective in the interpretation of archaeologi cal findings, contemporary issues such as globalization and elite/non-elite interactio ns can be addressed. The aim of an applied, community arch aeology is to develop new research strategies in which descendant communities (as well as other stakeholders) play an active role in the ways that their history is researched and interpreted (Ard ren 2002; Moser et al. 2002). Strategies for including the local people in reconstructing the history of their area include collaboration employment and tr aining, public presen tations, and providing educational resources, oral histories, and photographic and vi deo archives (Moser et al. 2002). In this way, archaeologists are working to replace colonial at titudes traditionally associated with archaeology by identifying and including multiple stakeholders. At Palmarejo, there are stakeholders at the household, community, national, and international levels (Davis-Salazar et al. 2007). From an applied perspective, social identity plays a significant role at the co mmunity level for local inhabitants of the Palmarejo Valley. Palmarejo is located 15 km from the fast est growing industrial city in Honduras, San Pedro Sula. The presence of this encro aching urban environment has impacted the
146 rural, subsistence based agricultural pursui ts of the valley. Non-local elites have established large cattle ranches, and conseque ntly much of the farming in the valley has shifted from subsistence goals to providing zacate destined for the hacienda cattle. Thus food and water insecurity in the Palmarejo Valley have been directly affected by the process of globalization (Davis-S alazar et al. 2007). As they increasingly become part of the global market economy, any so rt of community identity is in danger of eroding away. Furthermore, the modern residents were drawn from various highland locations in Honduras to the valleys fertile land and wa ter resources only 6075 years ago (DavisSalazar et al. 2007). Therefore, there is no direct descendant community associated with the pre-Hispanic ruins in the valley. However, placing an emphasis on community involvement in archaeological resources has fostered a cert ain degree of stewardship and pride among the residents. Though local prehis tory is an adopted one for many of the modern residents, it has the potential to by a unifying princi ple in communities adversely impacted by the modern world. Social identity plays a significant role in both past and present cultures. The ascription of a social identity informs cultural interactions within a specific sociohistorical context. This study contributes a preliminary analysis of elite social identity in northwest Honduras, and suggests that communities utilized material styles and symbols as a means of communicating wi th one another. I a dditionally acknowledge the possibility that these social affiliations responded to shifting sociohistorical contexts (i.e., the decline of La Sierra during the Terminal Classic re sulted in more visible local styles). The prehistoric perspective of a co mplex and fluid social identity reinforces modern observations of the contingent natu re of ethnicity (Daz-Andreu and Lucy
147 2005:110).These studies highlight the need for gr eater consideration of the role of social identity in anthropological i nvestigations of ancient and m odern cultural interactions.
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