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2010 Symposium Abstracts

Merchants, Trade and Exchange in the Pre-Columbian World

Social Evolution and the Moral Economy of the Marketplace

Richard E. Blanton, Purdue University

Social Evolution and the Moral Economy of the MarketplaceRichard E. Blanton, Purdue UniversityIn this paper I argue that we now stand in a position in which market research will allow us to add new layers of understanding regarding the evolution of pre-modern complex societies. A fresh approach will be productive, I argue, owing to recent theoretical advances in economics and anthropology. In anthropology, until recently, the role of markets in pre-modern societies has been largely misunderstood, and, unfortunately, as a result, largely ignored, owing to the influence of anti-market mentality stemming from the substantivist ideas of Karl Polanyi. At the same time, recent economic theory has been distorted by market fundamentalists who view markets as a domain in which the rational and selfish actions of market participants make possible an efficient economy providing maximal benefits to society. Although Adam Smith is often credited with the ideas behind market fundamentalism, actually his arguments pointed, instead, to the importance of moral action and government regulation to achieve efficient market functioning. Similarly, Max Weber concluded that highly commercialized economies such as capitalism can only thrive in the presence of what he called a non-dualistic economic ethic. This implies that for markets to function the participants must have the ability to extend moral sensibilities, such as fairness, to persons beyond kin, ethnic group or religion, to encompass all participants in a moral economy of the market that can transcend the local and the parochial. My presentation starts from this moral economy vantage point to rethink markets in Mesoamerica and other early civilizations, to ask the question: To what degree did the growth of moral concepts intersect with the evolution of markets? I argue that by understanding market evolution in this way we can throw light on the problem of how humans have been able to weave together large, complex, and diverse societies.

Richard Blanton is professor of anthropology at Purdue University. His research and publications represent a productive combination of archeology and cross-cultural comparative method. His archaeological career began in the Basin of Mexico on Bill Sanders's Teotihuacan Valley survey with Jeff Parsons, and at Tikal, also doing a settlement pattern survey, then continued with more regional archaeological research in the Texcoco and Ixtapalapa regions of the Basin, followed by a similar survey of the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. Additional regional archaeological work followed in Rough Cilicia, in the south coastal region of Turkey, but now he has returned to his Central Mexican archaeological roots in a new and ongoing project, with Lane Fargher, in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Cross-cultural research has taken him in many directions, including feasting and social exchange in Highland New Guinea, peasant houses and households, and collective action in the formation of pre-modern states. Richard Blanton has been one of the consistent voices encouraging his anthropological archaeology colleagues to embrace market study in their research efforts, beginning with a paper on the origins of markets presented at the inaugural meeting of the Society for Economic Anthropology in 1983, but his interest in, and research on, markets, has continued, including an analysis of Postclassic market evolution in the Basin of Mexico published in F. Berdan et al. (1996) Aztec Imperial Strategies, and, most recently, in a chapter in a forthcoming book edited by Chris Garraty and Barbara Stark titled Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies.



A Reconsideration of Household Exchange, Long-distance Trade and Marketplaces in the Prehispanic Central Andes

Richard Burger, Yale University & Enrique Mayer, Yale University

In our presentation, we will argue that small-scale household exchange systems did exist among farmers under the Inca Empire, but that these transactions, although very important for household sustenance, nonetheless did not form an important component of the Inca State economic system. This paper will corroborate in broad lines Murra's thesis about the marketless Inca State economy, but at the same time will give more importance and significance to inter-household exchanges than Murra. While our paper will insist on the uniqueness of the Inca system especially as in contrast with what we know of late Preconquest Mesoamerican state economies, we will also argue that the Inca pattern was the result of specific policies of the Inca government that suppressed long-distance exchange by expanding the prerogatives of state to monopolizing and distributing sumptuary items and by limiting freedom of movement within the Inca Empire. If this is the case, the Inca pattern cannot be used uncritically to model the economy of pre-Inca societies. It is conceivable and even likely that marketplaces and long-distance trading may have been more important among pre-Inca cultures than in Tahuantinsuyu, and that the Inca pattern of marketless economy as advocated by Murra may be the exception rather than the rule in Peruvian prehistory. Drawing upon research in highland Ancash, possible examples of pre-Inca marketplaces and long-distance trade networks will be discussed and the socioeconomic and political contexts that allowed them to flourish will be considered.

Richard Burger (Ph.D. UC Berkeley 1978) is an anthropological archaeologist with more than three decades of field experience in highland and coastal Peru. In addition to directing excavations at Chavin de Huantar, Pojoc, Huaricoto, Cardal, Mina Perdida and Manchay Bajo, Burger has also devoted himself to studying the changing patterns of prehistoric Andean obsidian exchange in Peru and Ecuador and searching for the geological sources of the volcanic glass utilized in the past. Burger joined the faculty of Yale University in 1981 and is currently the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology there. He has been the Chairman of Anthropology and Archaeological Studies as well as serving as the Director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History for eight years. Burger has written and edited numerous books and many articles on early Andean civilization, including Excavaciones en Chavin de Huantar (1998), Emergencia de la Civilización en los Andes: Ensayos de Interpretación (1993), Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization (1992), The Archaeology of Formative Ecuador (with Scott Raymond, 2003) and The Life and Writings of Julio C. Tello (2009), and Arqueología del Período Formativo de la Cuenca Baja de Lurín (with Krzysztof Makowski 2009).

Enrique Mayer (Ph.D. Cornell 1974) is an anthropologist with more than forty years of specialization in Andean agricultural systems and Latin American peasantries. He is professor of Social Anthropology at Yale. He did graduate work at Cornell University under the supervision of John V. Murra. His work on peasants and their agricultural systems shows that regions characterized by diversity (such as mountainous environments, small islands, and marginal lands), not suitable for agri-business, are exploited by peasants in strikingly similar ways. World-wide, peasant forms of production predominate and persist in these environments. His book The Articulated Peasant, makes a point of describing how household economies function in theory and in actual Andean practice. He has published another book, Ugly Stories of the Peruvian Agrarian Reform (2009), focusing on how people remember the reform that took place 40 years ago and assesses the impact this has had in the rural areas of Peru.



The Social Organization of Craft Production and Interregional Exchange at Teotihuacan

David M. Carballo, Boston University

During Teotihuacan's apogee (ca. AD 50–550), the city served as a hub for the most robust economic system in Mesoamerica, but the organization of this economy remains a topic of vigorous debate among scholars. Lacking the historical records available for the later Aztec period, the Teotihuacano economy has been reconstructed archaeologically, based largely on artifact distributions and changes in regional settlement patterns. Perspectives range from those viewing Teotihuacan as a highly centralized imperial economy, with political and religious agents having been responsible for mobilizing most production and distribution, to those that hold the city possessed a more laissez faire, commercialized economy, with a more central role envisioned for independent production and market exchange.

This chapter synthesizes recent work at Teotihuacan and in adjacent regions to distinguish what dimensions of the economy were more likely to have been politically motivated from those more likely to have been commercially motivated. I consider the economic system at various scales of analysis, including production contexts within the city's ethnic barrios, at major temple and palace complexes, and through GIS applications that model past landscape utilization and degrees of connectivity to other regions of Mesoamerica. Evidence for multi-family households buying and selling in markets exists alongside examples that illustrate the operation of temple and palace corvée labor and direct state oversight of important interregional arteries for the movement of goods and people. I argue that a more nuanced reconstruction of the Teotihuacano economy must consider the motivations of individuals who migrated to the city and maintained contacts with their home regions, as well as the political strategies of leaders who commanded certain production activities and targeted strategic corridors for interregional exchange. In this regard, Mexica-Aztec institutions for organizing labor and tribute are more directly applicable to Teotihuacan than are institutions originating from other parts of the world.

David Carballo is an Assistant Professor in Boston University's Department of Archaeology. His research focuses primarily on the archaeology of Formative and Classic period central Mexico. He is the author of the book Obsidian and the Teotihuacan State: Weaponry and Ritual Production at the Moon Pyramid (2010), as well as of articles on prehispanic households, the origins of deities, obsidian exchange, and highland transportation corridors, among other topics. He was formerly a Visiting Scholar in the Center for US-Mexican Studies, UC San Diego, and is currently active in the archaeology of Teotihuacan and the state of Tlaxcala.



Andean Mobility, Economy, and Political Order

Tom D. Dillehay, Vanderbilt University

This essay addresses the interdisciplinary knowledge of ancient Andean economies and organizational structures, from the early foragers through the late states and empires. Competing political economic models in Andean history have long privileged issues framed in terms of the connection between ritual and exchange systems, vertical movement of resources and peoples across different ecological zones, and the impact of imperialism and colonialism on political economies. Yet, with its specific emphasis on verticality (e.g., ecological complementarity) and recently diaspora, the anthropology of these persuasions has overlooked other modes of exchange and administration regulating these systems. In the case of the late prehispanic record, such systems are perhaps most successfully studied when archaeologists collaborate with ethnologists and/or ethnohistorians and vice-versa. Yet, developments in the Andes also are part of broader trends in anthropology and economic social theory and thus merit wider consideration as well. For instance, recent studies have tended to employ a more strategic/agentive/interactive analytical framework and have treated economics through the lens of practice, politics, ideology, and gender. Andeanists also must be willing to generalize; to compare and contrast cultures from different parts of the Andes, not just the Central Andes (primarily Peru); and to search for common patterns in the ways Andean societies responded to similar and dissimilar challenges. This essay draws case studies from various time periods and areas of the Andes, but concentrates mainly on the late-prehispanic and early Hispanic periods. Hopefully, the approach creates a more comprehensive practice for historical anthropology, a matter of interest for archeology, history, geography, art history, and other disciplines.

This review begins with a brief outline of the key concepts and models of mobility, transhumance, verticality, circuitous caravan movement and trade, diaspora, among others. An initial theme to reflect upon is the long-term persistence of foragers alongside and beyond areas inhabited by farmers, fishers, and pastoralists, and what role it played in establishing early economic principles. The likely unevenness with which food production eventually spread and the opportunities for foragers, fishers, herders, agriculturalists, and agro-pastoralists to strike a variety of exchange-based connections with each other across multiple ecological zones may help to explain the spread of some early foundations of exchange economies in the Andes. In later periods, public ceremony (and pilgrimage) also has been seen as important components of traditional Andean political economies and as politico-ideological commodities centrally implicated in strategies of colonialism and postcolonial struggles over state power and household relations of authority. A review of works on the traditional topics of production/exchange and redistribution/storage also is helpful. The development of specific archaeological databases and methodologies within these traditions is discussed. A reflection on the scale of the economy (households, temple and palace institutions, state finance, cities and regional systems, and interregional economies) reveals considerable variation between and within ancient Andean societies. Several questions can be generated from these and other themes. For example, has research on commercialized economies (e.g., fairs, markets) and on the wider extent of variation in ancient Andean economies been held back by reliance on a rather narrow set of concepts (e.g., verticality)? What were the interdependent roles of craft producers, merchants, and trade and exchange networks in the Andes? Were ritual and/or political networks the primary movers of goods and ideas as opposed to commercial networks in different regions at different times in the Andes? How does the political economy of polities and states link and how do they foster the emergence and transformation of increasingly larger scales of economic cooperation?

Lastly, an oscillating but persistent theme in Andean studies is the long-standing debate between scholars who see similarities with modern capitalist economies (modernists and formalists) and those who view ancient economies (lo andino) as radically different from their modern counterparts. Perhaps the review of other models, such as those dealing with scales of commercialization, will provide an avenue for transcending this debate and moving research in other directions. In closing, this review suggests that one of the greatest challenges for the future lies in finding ways of using interdisciplinary data to address current debates and questions in social and economic sciences that are relevant to Andean studies.

Tom Dillehay, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Professor Extraordinaire at Vanderbilt University and Honorary Doctorate at the Universidad Austral de Chile, has carried out numerous archaeological and anthropological projects in Peru, Chile, Argentina and other South American countries and in the United States. His main interests are migration, the long-term transformative processes leading to political and economic change, and the interdisciplinary and historical methodologies designed to study those processes. He has been a Visiting Professor at several universities around the world, including the Universidad de Chile, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Cambridge University, University of Tokyo, and the University of Chicago, among others. Professor Dillehay has published fifteen books and more than two hundred refereed journal articles and books. He currently co-directs, with the University of Chicago, an interdisciplinary project focused on long-term human and environmental interaction on the north coast of Peru. He has begun an excavation project at Huaca Prieta, Peru. He directs another project sponsored by the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation on the political identity of the Araucanians in Chile and Argentina. Professor Dillehay has received numerous international and national awards for his research, books and teaching. Professor Dillehay is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



Autonomous Ayllus and States Without Markets?
Embedded Andean Economic Systems and the Expansive Tiwanaku State

Paul S. Goldstein, University of California, San Diego

The Pre-Columbian Andes are unique among regions of pristine state development because markets and market-based entrepreneurial activities were undeveloped, and the economic systems of even the most complex societies have been described as non-market imperialism. Without a trader class or price-fixing tradition, Andean long distance trade responded to the political redistributive demands of elite patrons for prestige craft goods, rather than entrepreneurial motives, while the use of staple finance to fund the political economy was limited to local mobilization of tribute. Functionalist explanation of this phenomenon in the southern Andes has focused on how the vertically compressed array of resource zones and high transport costs in this mountainous region lent themselves to an outsize reliance on reciprocity. In this paper, a structural approach will instead focus on the persistence and reproduction of powerful corporate identities within Andean states, and how the maintenance of these identities provided a basis for a socially embedded economy on a scale well beyond its assumed limitations in other parts of the world. Without entrepreneurial activity like that of Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica, trade diasporas were a rarity in the ancient Andes, yet a distinctive kind of diasporic enclave community developed to facilitate agrarian and craft production and reciprocal exchange between households of the same ayllu, or corporate network, in different regions. Tiwanaku state expansion may be explicable as the transregional extension of ayllus as extended communities who dispatched linked constituent households to new regions as agrarian and craft producing colonies.

Paul Goldstein is Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of California San Diego. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago and has been a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Dumbarton Oaks and associate professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. His area of interest is the origins of Pre-Columbian civilizations of the Andes, with a particular focus on the role of colonization, diasporic migration and trade in the growth of ancient states and empires. Much of his ongoing research centers on fieldwork on the Tiwanaku culture of Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, where he has directed numerous excavation and survey projects. He is also the director of the Moquegua Archaeological Survey (MAS), a long-term study of ancient settlement patterns in Southern Peru, and the author of Andean Diaspora: The Tiwanaku Colonies and the Origin of Andean imperialism (University Press of Florida). Recently he has worked on relating the history of El Niño flood events to the Pre-Columbian archaeological record of the expansion, integration and collapse of early empires and on the poorly understood interaction of Wari, Tiwanaku state systems along their frontier.



The Merchant's World: Commercial Diversity and the Economics of Interregional Exchange in Highland Mesoamerica

Kenneth G. Hirth, Penn State University

When we think of merchants in Mesoamerica we often think of the Aztec pochteca. While the pochteca were certainly important, the Pre-Columbian commercial world was more complex than that. This paper examines two related topics. First, it examines the rich world of producers, craftsmen, peddlers and commercial agents that the Spanish encountered across Central Mexico at the time of the Conquest. It is only by understanding the diversity of the Pre-Columbian commercial world that we can understand who the merchant was and how he or she operated within it. Second, it examines the challenges that prehispanic people faced in moving goods over space without the use of wheeled vehicles, beasts of burden, or forms of maritime shipping. Reliance on human porters posed serious limitations on the type, quantity and distance over which trade goods could move which Mesoamerican societies solved using their own distinct brand of indigenous ingenuity.

This paper models the factors involved in conducting interregional exchange in the Pre-Columbian era. It focuses not on prestige goods, whose high value facilitated their movement over space, but rather on more mundane goods like ceramics and lithics that faced greater transportation difficulties because of their lower value to weight ratio. The author examines these issues from the perspective of production and distribution networks which furnished highland populations with finished obsidian blades and tools. Interregional exchange is examined using a profitability analysis derived from prices for obsidian goods recorded during the early colonial period. This discussion draws upon research conducted at the Epiclassic site of Xochicalco, Morelos and evaluates obsidian trade from both a network perspective and the decision making criteria of individual merchant craftsmen. The information suggests that where conditions permitted, highland economic systems where characterized by a considerable degree of entrepreneurial behavior at the level of individual producer-venders and their corresponding households.

Kenneth Hirth is a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at Penn State University. He is an archaeologist and economic anthropologist interested in the comparative analysis of domestic and political economy in the Pre-Columbian world. He has authored, edited, and co-edited 14 books on different aspects of Mesoamerican economy and political economy. These volumes include: Housework: Craft Production and Domestic Economy in Ancient Mesoamerica (2010); Obsidian Craft Production in Ancient Central Mexico (2006); Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: Experimentation and Interpretation (2003); Ancient Urbanism at Xochicalco (2000); and Trade and Exchange in Early Mesoamerica (1984). He is a recipient of the Excellence in Lithic Studies Award from the Society of American Archaeology (1998) and the Chairman's Award for Career Achievement in Archaeology, by the National Geographic Society (2000). His current research is on the role and organization of merchants in Mesoamerica.



Craft Production and Distribution in the Maya Lowlands

Brigitte Kovacevich, Southern Methodist University

Defining the nature of the organization of craft production in the Classic-period Maya Lowlands has been challenging. Issues of preservation and differing sampling strategies have often obscured patterns that are observable in other areas of the Pre-Colombian world. When patterns have been elucidated, the explanation of those patterns has been debated. Do the patterns point to state control, independent production, or both? Which social groups were involved in this production? Were the political and domestic economies integrated? This contribution will take a regional and holistic approach to the problem of the organization of craft production in the Maya world.

The use of regional ethnohistoric and ethnographic data to supplement archaeological data, as well as taking a wider perspective on what control might entail, may give us a broader understanding of the identities of and relationships between producers and consumers. Utilizing Old World models of craft production may lead us down the wrong path. The recognition that strategies of production and movement of goods across the landscape may have been highly variable through space and time is also an important component of the institution of Maya craft production. We may often find low-density household production of goods by elites and commoners, but that may not necessarily preclude complex economic relationships or relegate the Maya to a lower level of sociopolitical complexity when compared to other civilizations in the New World or the Old.

Brigitte Kovacevich is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University. She received her BA from the University of Arizona and PhD from Vanderbilt University. Her interests include the complex interplay between technology, power, economic systems, social action, and culture change in the past and present. She primarily carries out her research in Guatemala, but she has also worked in Mexico, Arizona, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Areas of specialization include Mesoamerican archaeology, lithic analysis, household archaeology, gender, identity, and political economy in the past. Recent publications include a chapter, Ritual, Crafting, and Agency at the Classic Maya Kingdom of Cancuen in Mesoamerican Ritual Economies, edited by Christian Wells and Karla Davis-Salazar published by University Press of Colorado, as well as Laser Ablation-ICP-MS Chemical Characterization of Jade from a Jade Workshop in Cancuen, Guatemala in Laser Ablation-ICP-MS in Archaeological Research, edited by Robert Speakman and Hector Neff, published by University of New Mexico Press. She has also coauthored papers and an article (in the Journal of Archaeological Science) on the geochemical analyses of soils from activity areas at Cancuen, as well as papers and articles on the chemical analyses of jade and obsidian. She organized a symposium about gifting and inalienable possessions in the past for the 2008 Society for American Archaeology, which will be published in the Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association. A book chapter from the proceedings of the Third Maya Lithic Conference, edited by Zachary X. Hruby, Oswaldo Chinchilla, and Geoffrey Braswell, published by Equinox Press is also forthcoming.



Wide Open Spaces: A Long View of the Importance of Maya Market Exchange

Marilyn A. Masson, University of Albany, SUNY & David A. Freidel, Washington University

Ample ethnohistorical documents testify to the breadth and depth of Maya markets at Spanish contact. Yet despite the potential for analogy based on arguments of continuity, skepticism among Mayanists persists regarding the existence of significant market institutions during the earlier periods of Maya development. The skeptics hold high ground epistemologically: Contact era Maya markets commonly occupied open plaza spaces with ephemeral perishable structures and five centuries later, most still do. No one can doubt the centrality of public plazas to Preclassic and Classic period Maya cities and towns. Were these great labor-intensive facilities empty of the bustling markets and fairs routinely filling plazas when the Europeans arrived? Were Preclassic and Classic Maya commoners really burdened with parasitic rulers supported solely on tribute and focused on regional status competition through courtly prestations featuring luxury craft goods fashioned of exotic materials? These are questions on which the art and writings of Classic kingly courts are only slowly now yielding relevant data, and on which the archaeology of commoners is difficult to engage. While the plazas themselves are shedding some light on the matter, the rest of the Maya archaeological record surrounding them likely holds the key to future resolution of Preclassic and Classic political economy.

By comparing the economic footprint of the Postclassic city of Mayapán with those of earlier Maya cities, we consider prospects for a market and currency based model of Maya political economy as foundational to the ancient civilization. In our view, specific correlates of well-developed pre-industrial market institutions generally include high levels of household, regional, or inter-regional occupational specialization and economic dependencies. We further consider the degree to which exchanges essential to daily life among ordinary people may have articulated with hierarchical political institutions and shaped the ambitions and obligations of Maya elites. Finally, we compare the Maya case to other ancient states where market operations were essential to political authority and were embedded within a matrix of religious practice.

Marilyn Masson is an Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University at Albany -SUNY. Her research focuses on ancient economies of the Maya area, with recent emphases on household archaeology and the urban organization of Mayapán, the largest Maya political capital of the Postclassic Period. She is the author/editor of three books, including In the Realm of Nachan Kan (2000), Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica (2000, with Michael E. Smith), and Ancient Maya Political Economies (2002, with David A. Freidel). She has served as Principal Investigator on two major archaeological research projects, including the Belize Postclassic Project (1996–2002) and the Economic Foundations of Mayapan Project (2001–present, supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society). Currently, her research at Mayapán examines occupational heterogeneity, affluence, and modes of governance within the city's neighborhoods.

David Freidel is Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. His interest in Maya markets, commerce and political economy started with his settlement pattern study of the pilgrimage center of Cozumel Island under the direction of Jeremy Sabloff and William Rathje. He continued this interest in his first project at the Preclassic trading port of Cerros in Belize. His second project was at Yaxuna in Yucatan, another trading city linking eastern and western sectors of the northern lowlands. This work focused on regional commercial and military interaction in the Late Classic period. Yaxuna also revealed Early Classic evidence of interaction with forces allied with Teotihuacan and Middle Preclassic interaction with Olmec horizon people. He currently directs research at the site of El Peru, ancient Waka', in northwestern Péten. This is another trade city commanding canoe traffic on the San Pedro Martir River and overland routes linking central Yucatan to Péten. He is co-author of A Forest of Kings (1990) and Maya Cosmos (1993) and co-editor with Marilyn Masson of Ancient Maya Political Economies (2002).



Artisans, Ikats, and Commerce at Classic Maya Palaces

Patricia A. McAnany, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding strategies of palace finance is central to lifting the shroud that has hung over ancestral Maya economies. This paper explores the practices through which Classic Maya palaces were produced, provisioned, and reproduced. The concept of social speciation is introduced as a way of comprehending the diacritics of social difference in Classic Maya society and the economic implications embedded within the materialization of such difference. The centrality and pervasiveness of palace artisans—particularly in the realm of gendered textile production—is examined by reference to iconography, hieroglyphic texts, and materials found in tombs and middens. Royal iconography and inscriptions suggest that the burden of tribute (ikats)—and tribute ransom—played a significant role in financing palace economies. The linkage between tribute extraction and martial aggression is seen to cast new light on violent conflict in Classic Maya society. The socially ambiguous and textually veiled role of traders in Classic Maya society is examined in reference to the persistence of scholastic doubts about the presence and vitality of Classic-period commerce. Although sophisticated and complex, Classic Maya palace economies were vulnerable to short amplitude perturbations, as is apparent in the tumultuous events of the eighth and ninth centuries.

Patricia McAnany is Kenan Eminent Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. A Maya archaeologist, she serves as principal investigator of the Xibun Archaeological Research Project, the Maya Area Cultural Heritage Initiative, and formerly of the K'axob Project (see and She is particularly interested in the intersection of ritual and economy and in cultural heritage rights for descendant Maya peoples. She is the author/editor of several books including Ancestral Maya Economies in Archaeological Perspective(2010); Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire(2009) co-edited with Norman Yoffee; Dimensions of Ritual Economy (2008) co-edited with E. Christian Wells; K'axob: Ritual, Work, and Family in an Ancient Maya Village (2004); and Living with the Ancestors: Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society (1995). Her journal articles & book chapters include Thinking About Stratigraphic Sequence in Social Terms (co-authored with Ian Hodder), Archaeological Dialogues Vol. 16 (2009); Rational Exuberance: Mesoamerican Economies and Landscapes in the Research of Robert S. Santley (co-authored with Christopher A. Pool), Journal of Anthropological Research Vol. 64 (2008); America's First Connoisseurs of Chocolate co-authored with Satoru Murata, Food and Foodways, Vol. 15 (2007); and Reclaiming Maya Ancestry (co-authored with Shoshaunna Parks) in Look Close, See Far: A Cultural Portrait of the Maya, photographs by B. T. Martin (2007). She has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Charles Phelps Taft Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cincinnati. Currently, she works with NGOs in southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and western Honduras to provide local communities with opportunities to dialogue about the value and preservation of cultural heritage.



Merchants and Merchandise: The Archaeology of Aztec Commerce

Deborah L. Nichols, Dartmouth College

When we arrived at the great market place, called Tlatelolco, we were astounded at the number of people and quantity of merchandise that it contained and at the good order and control that was maintained, for we had never seen such a thing before. Bernal Diaz's description of the famous Aztec marketplace vividly conveys the importance of commerce in the Aztec empire-the last in a series of unusually large and influential states that developed in the Basin of Mexico. Artisans manufactured most of the goods for sale by market vendors who included household producers, itinerant regional merchants and the famous long-distance guild merchants, the pochteca. This paper examines the connections between craft specialization, merchants, and markets drawing on information from investigations of Otumba, an Aztec city-state capital in the northeast Basin of Mexico.

In addition to its political and administrative functions, Otumba was a regional craft production center and home to a weekly market. According to Spanish chroniclers, Otumba also was one of 12 towns/cities in the Basin of Mexico where pochteca were based. Archaeologists have documented the production of an array of goods made in workshops at Otumba: ceramic figurines and molds, pottery, obsidian core-blades, jewelry and ornaments of obsidian and exotic stones, maguey fibers, spindle whorls, and molds and grinding tools. Provenance studies of Aztec ceramics and obsidian provide a complementary source of information on the relationship between exchange and craft specialization. Such studies have shown that substantial amounts of goods, including household items, moved through Aztec exchange networks. I review archaeological studies of craft production for the Otumba city-state and consider exchange networks for goods exported from Otumba and for imports. I look at these results in light of recent provenance analyses and discussions of the organization of Aztec exchange networks. I relate the findings to larger debates about the role of politics and economics in Aztec commerce and more generally about the political economies of early states.

Deborah Nichols is the William J. Bryant 1925 Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College and the Chair of the Department of Anthropology. She has co-edited four books, including Social Violence in the Prehispanic Southwest (University of Arizona Press), Archaeology is Anthropology (American Anthropological Association), and Archaeology of City-States (Smithsonian Institution Press). She has authored and co-authored numerous articles for professional journals including The Rise of Civilization and Urbanism, in Encyclopedia of Archaeology (Elsevier), Artisans, Markets and Merchants, in The Aztecs (Abrahms), and book chapters Chiconautla, Mexico: A Crossroads of Aztec Trade and Politics, (Latin American Antiquity), and Aztec Studies (Ancient Mesoamerica). She has participated in and directed numerous archaeological projects in Mexico. She is currently co-director with George Cowgill of the research project, Spanning the Classic to Postclassic Transition at a Teotihuacan Regional Center sponsored by the National Science Foundation.



Llama Caravans and the Constitution of South Andean Society (AD 400–1535)

Axel E. Nielsen, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina

This paper discusses the changing role of long-distance trade in the reproduction of social relations—at both regional and interregional scales—in the South Andes, from the Middle Horizon through the European invasion. It begins sketching a theoretical framework for analyzing the meaningful and power-laden relationships between various agents (caravan drovers, consumers, authorities), moving objects, and landscapes in the practice of long-distance trade. Combining these propositions with ethnoarchaeological data on llama caravan trade, it outlines a methodological approach to the problem that emphasizes the study of the inter-nodal spaces (areas between communities where trade items are consumed) and the actual practices responsible for the interregional circulation of goods (caravan trade being the main one in this case). The second part of the paper applies these ideas to the analysis of archaeological data from the routes that traverse the Western Andean range (i.e., caravan campsites, shrines, trails). These data show changing patterns of interregional trade between the Atacama Desert and the Altiplano (Bolivia-Argentina) between AD 400 and 1535, differences that correlate with the social transformations experienced by these populations from the Middle Horizon, through the Late Intermediate Period, until their incorporation to the Inka State. The incorporation of inter-nodal information supports a richer discussion of how caravan trade and other forms of circulation contribute to the transformation of the societies involved in the network and how they affected different actors within those collectives.

Axel Nielsen is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Córdoba and tenured investigator of Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (Argentina). He has been working in the South Andes since the mid-80s. He conducted ethnoarchaeological and ethnographic research among llama pastoralists and caravan traders in the southern Bolivian Altiplano and has been applying the results of this work to the archaeological study of caravan routes of the last three millennia. His general interests include the ways in which interregional interaction (e.g., trade and warfare) shape processes of social change. Among his recent publications are Warfare in Cultural Context: Practice, Agency, and the Archaeology of Violence (co-edited with W. Walker, 2009); The Materiality of Ancestors: Chullpas and Social Memory in the Late Prehispanic History of the South Andes (in Memory Work: Archaeologies of Material Practices, ed. by B. Mills & W. H. Walker, 2008), Plazas para los antepasados: Descentralización y poder corporativo en las formaciones políticas preincaicas de los Andes circumpuneños (Estudios Atacameños 31, 2006); and Estudios Internodales e Interacción Interregional en los Andes Circumpuneños: Teoría, Método y Ejemplos de Aplicación (in Esferas de Interacción Prehistóricas y Fronteras Nacionales Modernas: Los Andes Sur Centrales, ed. by H. Lechtman, 2006). His current project focuses on the study of late prehispanic public spaces, with special interest on how practices developed in these settings contributed to the constitution of corporate political subjects.



Prehispanic Andean Economic Systems in Comparative and Theoretical Perspective

Charles Stanish, Cotsen Institute, University of California, Los Angeles

The traditional view that market systems did not exist in the Andes is based upon a large corpus of historical data by Spanish writers in the early Colonial Period. Unlike Central Mexico where marketing systems were described in minute detail, markets and marketplaces were barely mentioned in the Andean texts. We have no descriptions of large marketplaces, few descriptions of independent traders, no discussion of media of exchange, or any description of a legal structure to regulate such trade. In place of markets and complex tribute rolls in the Andes is the theme of labor taxation, known as corvée in the Western feudal world-unpaid labor conscripted on a regular basis by a political authority. Yet in spite of this, our evidence also indicates that small marketplaces existed in the prehispanic central Andes. Local fairs flourished and there was a brisk trade in many goods, both basic commodities and products of highly specialized labor. Long-distance interregional exchange of many kinds of items was also robust and historically deep.

In this paper, I try to resolve some of these apparent contradictions. I apply a suite of theoretical tools to help us understand how one of the great empires in world history functioned without price-fixing market mechanisms while simultaneously existing in an economic landscape structured by regional fairs, intense specialized production, and vigorous interregional trade.

Charles Stanish, a professor of anthropology, holds the Lloyd Cotsen Chair in Archaeology at UCLA. He is a specialist in Pre-Columbian Lake Titicaca Basin cultures with a theoretical interest in political and economic organization. He is currently the director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. He has authored, edited or co-edited nine books, including Ancient Titicaca, Ritual and Pilgrimage in the Ancient Andes (with B. Bauer), and Ancient Andean Political Economy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Senior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. His current research focuses the development of complex societies in the northern Titicaca Basin.



Prehispanic Maya Merchants in Texts and Images

Alexandre Tokovinine, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University & Dmitry Beliaev, Russian State University for the Humanities

This paper will discuss ancient Maya merchants from the perspective of pre-contact inscriptions and imagery as well as early colonial Spanish accounts. With a possible exception of the murals of the North Acropolis at Calakmul, there are no Classic Maya texts and images dedicated to trade and traders. However, several deities including God L are linked to trade, travelling, and possession of precious tradable items. This paper will examine the connection between Classic Maya gods and trade. It will consider visual and written narratives found on Classic Maya painted pottery that may have an association with trade and traders such as historical and mythical court scenes and depictions of travelling and of travel-related supernatural creatures. We will attempt to identify certain members of Classic Maya court who might be involved in long-distance trade.

This paper will also trace changes in trade-related imagery and narratives associated with Classic-Postclassic transition. We are going to discuss the introduction of a potentially new divine patron of traders, God M, and consider possible depictions of traders, both human and divine, in the codices and in the murals of Northern Yucatan. Finally, this paper will contextualize the limited pre-contact information about Maya trade by looking at the first Spanish accounts on the subject, particularly Landa's Relación de las Cosas de Yucatan, and early colonial dictionaries such as Calepino de Motul.

Alexandre Tokovinine is a Maya epigrapher and archaeologist. He participated in several projects in Guatemala including the Holmul Archaeological Project and Proyecto Arqueológico de Investigación y Rescate Naranjo and recently received a Ph.D. degree in Anthropology at Harvard University. His doctoral research centered on Classic Maya place names was supported by the Junior Fellowship at the Dumbarton Oaks. Alexandre is now a Research Associate of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, Peabody Museum, Harvard University.



Patterns of Production and Distribution: A Trial Comparison of Peru and Ecuador

John R. Topic, Trent University

The area of northern Peru and Ecuador is also the area where the Central Andes grade into the Intermediate Area. The geographical contiguity of northern Peru and Ecuador might suggest that a continuum also existed in the nature of the socio-political institutions related to craft production and distribution. Yet, the data have tended to document a different interpretation: that, in fact, there was a cultural divide between the two areas. The divide was not defined so much by cosmological or ideological issues but rather specifically on issues of political and economic organization.

In general, the Central Andes have been characterized more by redistributive economies while there is some evidence for more commercialized exchange in Ecuador. The means of transportation are also different. On the obvious level: Peru had llama caravans, while Ecuador (and the Intermediate Area) relied on human porters for land transportation. The role of seaborne trade is better documented for the Intermediate Area than for the Central Andes. However, the mode of transportation seems always to have been subjected to political control and cannot be evaluated outside the political economy.

In this paper, I will examine issues of production and distribution and how these relate to the historical development of political economies in the two areas. This will, of necessity, involve some level of detailed analysis of individual products, for example elite versus non elite craft products, the exchange of food-stuffs, and the exchange of raw materials. A central question is the extent to which the differences in the institutionalized patterns of production and distribution in these two areas can be characterized as representing a continuum or to what extent is there a sharp break.

John Topic received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1977 and is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Trent University. His research has focused on the Inca and pre-Incaic cultures of Peru and Ecuador, exploring themes such as urbanism, craft production, warfare, bureaucracy, ethnic identity, and religious cults. He has served as an associate editor of Latin American Antiquity, and is currently treasurer of the Institute of Andean Research. In 2002 he was named a Huésped Ilustre by the city of Huamachuco, Peru; and in 2003 won Trent's Distinguished Research Award. He was named to the Orden de José Faustino Sánchez Carrión in 2007 by the Municipalidad Provincial de Sánchez Carrión (Huamachuco), and was Visiting Professor in the Programa de Estudios Andinos at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru in 2008.