Anthropology •  Archaeology and Latin America

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Settlement Archaeology and Political Economy at Tres Zapotes, Veracruz, Mexico

Edited by Christopher A. Pool

This volume presents new information from a program of intensive archaeological survey and surface collection at an important Olmec and Epi-Olmec center. A dual strategy of systematic interval transect sampling and full-coverage survey of architectural features and artifact concentrations permits an evaluation of the relative effectiveness of these commonly employed methods. Auger testing in floodplain areas yielded evidence of extensive buried deposits. Distributional analysis of the surface and subsurface data documents the site's growth and decline from 900 BC to AD 900 in radiocarbon years and confirm that Tres Zapotes achieved its apogee during the Late and Terminal Formative periods (400 BC--AD 300). An attribute analysis of burned earthen artifacts discriminates between daub and probable kiln remains, helping to define ceramic production loci. Interpretive chapters discuss the organization of ceramic and obsidian craft production, concluding that craft activities were mainly household based with little elite control over production. The concluding synthesis argues for weak centralization of authority of Tres Zapotes and highlights variability in the political and economic processes affecting forms of urbanism in the lowlands of Mesoamerica.


Christopher A. Pool is associate professor of anthropology and past director of the Latin American Studies Program at the University of Kentucky.


“Tres Zapotes has long been recognized as a major Olmec site. Surveys by Pool and colleagues now provide more systematic context.”

– Nicholas James, Antiquity 2005(79):234.


Published By The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press

8.5 x 11 in. 112 pages 47 figures, 19 tables