Department of Anthropology

University of Pittsburgh
Department of Anthropology


Dr. Alanna Ossa

Visiting Scholar

Center for Comparative Archaeology




Friday, September 9, 2011

3:00 p.m.

Anthropology Lounge, 3106 WWPH


This study uses archaeological residential inventories from the center of Sauce and its hinterland to address the possible appearance of markets and the structure of exchange during the Middle Postclassic period (AD 1200-1350) in south-central Veracruz, Mexico.  Sauce’s economy is of interest because the region displayed significant economic and political transitions. Sauce differed from previous local centers because of craft production in its central zone and hinterland.  Researchers have argued that Sauce’s political elites encouraged production and marketing, though the extent was unknown.  Recent innovations use network (mathematical distributional) expectations in combination with spatial and contextual information to identify exchange mechanisms.  New quantitative methods help distinguish between social network exchanges such as gift-giving versus market exchange using household inventories.  Results support market exchange of most pottery, lending strong support to commoner household prominence in developing local markets, while the restrictions of a few artifact types to Sauce and wealthier residences describe political and social inequalities. New research will evaluate exchange systems for both the Preclassic (600BC - AD300) and Late Classic (AD 600-900).  These periods also have significant political transitions, with the formation of a large capital and state (Cerro de las Mesas) during the Preclassic, and the breakdown of this state into several likely competing polities (Nopiloa, Azuzules, and Zapotal) in the Late Classic. Current research does not indicate the same level of craft production, although there is an increase over time.  Information about these earlier exchange systems will better describe cycles of exchange, production, and local political development. 

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