Volume 64, Number 3, Abstracts

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Debating with Robert: Papers on Mesoamerican Archaeology
in Memory of Robert S. Santley



Rational Exuberance: Mesoamerican Economies and Landscapes in the Research of Robert S. Santley

Patricia A. McAnany
Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina


Christopher A. Pool
Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky

KEY WORDS: Archaeology; Core-periphery systems; Economy; Mesoamerica; Robert S. Santley; Settlement patterns

Consistent with his enthusiastic embrace of cultural ecology and cultural materialism, Robert S. Santley (1948–2006) saw the economy as basic to the organization of social and belief systems. We review Santley’s contributions to Mesoamerican archaeology in the context of broader issues and debates and introduce the articles that make up this special issue in his memory.

Robert S. Santley: Student, Teacher, and Researcher

William T. Sanders†
Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University

[In a sad irony, William T. Sanders passed away on July 2, 2008, just as these reflections on his former student were going to press. A giant in the field of Mesoamerican archaeology, Bill Sanders pioneered cultural ecology in Mesoamerica with Barbara Price in Mesoamerica: The Evolution of a Civilization (1968) and offered hard data in support of ecological theory with The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization (Sanders, Parsons, and Santley 1979). Over more than half a century his extensive fieldwork in Mesoamerica stretched from the lowlands of Veracruz, Tabasco, and Quintana Roo to the highlands of Central Mexico and Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala, then back to the lowlands in the Copan region of Honduras. In one way or another, he has influenced every contributor to this special issue, and indeed every archaeologist who works in Mesoamerica. Upon hearing the news of his passing, Elizabeth Brumfiel summed it up most eloquently, quoting an Igbo saying: “A great tree has fallen!” — Guest eds.]

KEY WORDS: Matacapan, Mentor, Researcher, Robert S. Santley, Science, Teotihuacan, Urbanization

Robert Santley’s contributions to our discipline have been multilevel and multifaceted—by this statement I mean he has operated on all levels of research from data collection to evolutionary theory and the training of students to follow the broad anthropological perspective that was central to his career. In this paper I focus on his most innovative and productive research project, the Matacapan Project in southern Veracruz, Mexico.


Beyond Santley and Rose (1979): The Role of Aquatic Resources in the Prehispanic Economy of the Basin of Mexico

Jeffrey R. Parsons
Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan

KEY WORDS: Algae; Aquatic resources; Insects; Lake Texcoco; Robert S. Santley; Teotihuacan

In their seminal 1979 paper, Santley and Rose emphasized the need to include algae, a “wild” aquatic resource, in modeling prehispanic diet and demography. I argue that the Santley and Rose model should be expanded so as to incorporate a more varied diet, and especially to consider the role of edible aquatic insects. Algae and aquatic insects should be considered together as part of a suite of resources that were exploited much more intensively in parts of Mesoamerica than in any other region of the world where ancient civilizations developed. In Postclassic Mesoamerica these resources were fully complementary to seed-based agriculture, and, together with maguey, they constituted the functional equivalent of pastoralism in the absence of domestic herbivores.


Cultivating, Farming, and Food Containers: Reflections on Formative Subsistence and Intensification in the Southern Gulf Coast Lowlands

Thomas W. Killion
Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University

KEY WORDS: Ceramic containers; Formative period; Horticulture; Intensification; Lowland Mesoamerica; Survey methods; Tropical agriculture

Robert S. Santley was known for his studies of obsidian exchange and Teotihaucan influence in Mesoamerica. He also was a student of tropical agriculture and a practitioner of innovative survey methods. In 1992 Santley published a study of Formative period (1500–500 BC) agriculture and settlement in the Sierra de los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico. His model linked land use and food preparation practices to ceramic vessel use. He compared the food production model to the distribution of Early and Middle Formative ceramics from village contexts in the central Tuxtlas. Today, the study suggests amplification of Boserup’s (1965) scheme of agricultural intensification and a reassessment of the terms horticulture and agriculture in tropical lowland contexts. Santley’s work resonates well with recent research on agriculture and settlement in southern Veracruz and the variable role of wild and cultivated food resources among Olmec and pre-Olmec societies of the Gulf Coast lowlands.


The World According to Robert: Macroregional Systems Theory in Mesoamerica

Rani T. Alexander
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, New Mexico State University

KEY WORDS: Classic period Mesoamerica; Matacapan (Mexico); Teotihuacan; World Systems

Throughout his career, Robert Santley sought to explain the spread of Teotihuacan-derived material culture to other areas of Mesoamerica and to develop better archaeological methods for recognizing variation in the organization of Mesoamerican macroregional economic systems. In this paper, I review Santley’s approaches to understanding the Mesoamerican World and outline unresolved questions in the archaeological use of world-systems theory as applied to Mesoamerica. I discuss how recent research on trade diasporas applies to the data from Matacapan and consider some fruitful new directions for research.

Beyond Economic Imperialism: The Teotihuacan Factor in Northern Yucatan

Michael P. Smyth
Department of Anthropology, Rollins College

KEY WORDS: Chac II; Influence; Interaction; Intrusion; Northern Maya Lowlands; Oxkintok; Puuc hills; Teotihuacan

Robert Santley had a passion for understanding Teotihuacan’s role in Classic Mesoamerica, particularly outside Central Mexico. Although his ideas of economic imperialism no longer seem viable, especially in the Maya lowlands, the diverse impact of Teotihuacan in the northern Yucatan is only now being appreciated. This paper explores the Teotihuacan factor in the northern plains at Dzibilchaltun, Acanceh, and Yaxuna and in the Puuc region at Chac II and Oxkintok. Framing the discussion to examine assemblage variability and to infer the range of variation of impact from long-distance influence to direct intrusions, I address questions of chronology, economic process, and Robert Santley’s legacy.

But Robert, Where Did the Pots Go? Ceramic Exchange and the Economy of Ancient Matacapan

Christopher A. Pool
Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky


Wesley D. Stoner
Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky

KEY WORDS: Central place systems; Ceramic production and exchange; Instrumental neutron activation analysis; Mesoamerica; petrography

Among Robert Santley’s major contributions to Mesoamerican archaeology was the modeling of ancient economic systems. In particular, Santley proposed that the economies of Teotihuacan’s dependents were organized as dendritic central-place systems geared toward the bulking and export of goods and materials. Ceramic production and exchange figured prominently in Santley’s dendritic model for the economy of Matacapan and the Tuxtla Mountains. In this paper we assess Santley’s model in light of recent data on ceramic production and exchange in the Tuxtlas region. The result is a more informed view of political economy that does not easily fit any one central-place model.


Risky Business: Archaeology by Robert’s Rules

Philip J. Arnold III
Department of Anthropology, Loyola University Chicago

KEY WORDS: Craft production; Locational geography; Matacapan; Political economy; Settlement patterns; Teotihuacan

Robert S. Santley approached archaeology like a favorite board game-he loved the intellectual strategies and he took seriously the rules of engagement. This essay explores Robert’s archaeological game plan and highlights his emphasis on ancient political economies. This emphasis is well represented along two fronts: settlement pattern studies to model economic geography and craft production analysis to address producer-consumer relationships. His contributions to these fields are framed in terms of “Robert’s Rules”—the basic rules of the game that structured Robert Santley’s archaeological pursuits.


Book Reviews  

Barbara Stark: The Prehistory of the Tuxtlas,
by Robert S. Santley

Sergio Romero: Kaqchikel Chronicles: The Definitive Edition,
by Judith M. Maxwell and Robert M. Hill, II

David E. Stuart: Journey to Xibalba: A Life in Archaeology,
by Don Patterson

Polly Schaafsma: Signs of Casas Grandes Shamans,
by Christine S. VanPool and Todd L. VanPool

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo: Monuments, Empires, and Resistance: The Araucanian Polity and Ritual Narratives,
by Tom D. Dillehay

Hope MacLean: Rock Crystals and Peyote Dreams: Explorations in the Huichol Universe,
by Peter T. Furst

Peter Bakewell: Private Passions and Public Sins: Men and Women in Seventeenth-Century Lima,
by María Emma Mannarelli

Billy Jean Isbell: Entre Prójimos: El Conflicto Armado Interno y la Política de la Reconciliación en el Perú,
by Kimberly Theidon

Les Field: Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche,
by Ana Mariella Bacigalupo

Daniel M. Goldstein: Now We Are Citizens: Indigenous Politics in Postmulticultural Bolivia,
by Nancy Grey Postero

Jonathan D. Hill: Time and Memory in Indigenous Amazonia: Anthropological Perspectives,
Carlos Fausto and Michael Heckenberger, eds.

Miguel C. Leatham: The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico,
by Stafford Poole, C. M.

David Frye: Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead: The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Beyond,
by Stanley Brandes

Marcia Mikulak: Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America,
Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, eds

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