LISS.398A TECHNOLOGY, ENVIRONMENT and HUMAN ADAPTATION:
PART II PRE-EUROPEAN MESOAMERICA



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VALLEY OF OAXACA: MONTE ALBAN I (500 - 200 B.C.)

Urban life emerges in the Valley of Oaxaca over the relatively brief span of about 150 years (500 - 350 B.C.) when a new and distinctly different kind of settlement -- an urban center or city -- appears at Monte Albán in the center of the Valley. During this and the subsequent 150 years social organization in the Valley is reshaped into single, integrated social unit dominated by a capital city at Monte Albán

The emergence of pre-industrial urban centers like Monte Albán is commonly associated with declining importance of kinship ties (people in these centers live close by to non-kin for the first time), the beginnings of rigidly defined, endogamous social classes, increasing economic specialization and the use of written records.

In the overall Mesoamerican developmental chronology. this period (500 - 200 B.C.) overlaps the Middle and Late Formative periods. This period is sometimes called the early urban because it marks the emergence of urban centers like Monte Albán all over in Mesoamerica. In the Valley of Oaxaca regional chronology this corresponds to the Monte Alba´n I phase, consisting of two sub-phases:

Monte Albán Early I (500-350 B.C.)
Monte Albán Late I (350-200 B.C.)
The Monte Alba´n I phase is characterized by a rapid increase in and marked change in the distribution of estimated population significant increases in both vertical and horizontal social complexity as well as social integration.

These changes were relatively rapid and together marked a radical change in the Valley’s social structure. In terms of institutional forms, these changes may mark the displacement of chiefdom type political institutions and a redistributive economy by state type political institutions and a market economy. Crucial to these changes may have been developments in ritual practice and religion.

All these developments were associated with the emergence of what is usually taken to be a regional capital at Monte Albán on a hilltop near the center of the Valley and the adoption of the full range of technology associated with highland agriculture in Mesoamerica.

QUESTIONS

As you look at the material for this session, keep these questions in mind:

Unless otherwise indicated, this discussion is based on material drawn from: Blanton, ‘78, Blanton, et. al. ‘82, Kowalewski, et. al. ‘89 Flannery and Marcus ‘90. Blanton, et. al. ‘93,


Colorado School of Mines
Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies
Dr. Joseph D. Sneed
jsneed@mines.edu
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