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Connecting the Local and the Global: A History of Continuity, Change, and Interaction at a Small-Scale Settlement on the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, Mexico

  • Author(s): Fauvelle, Mikael David Hayden
  • Advisor(s): Algaze, Guillermo
  • et al.
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The archaeological site of Fracción Mujular is composed of several small residential plaza groups and a monumental ballcourt located near the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, Mexico. Long known for the Central Mexican iconography found on its carved stelae (Navarrete 1976, 1986; García-Des Lauriers 2005, 2007, 2016; Taube 2000), the survey and excavations conducted during the course of this dissertation represent the first extensive and systematic investigations of the site. Situated on top of the mountain of Cerro Bernal between the Pacific Coast and the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the residents of Fracción Mujular would have had close access to important trading routes used throughout Mesoamerica’s history. My analysis of the site’s ceramics, obsidian, and other excavated artifacts shows a long history of interaction with both local and distant polities from across Mesoamerica. We now know that Fracción Mujular was occupied from the Early Classic through Late Postclassic and that the site’s inhabitants maintained strong ties to Central Mexico throughout these periods, including during times of considerable political upheaval. Fracción Mujular outlasted its larger neighbor of Los Horcones, entering a period of florescence following that latter site’s decline at the end of the Early Classic. An analysis of the ceramics of Los Horcones emphasizes the site’s long chronology, as well as its history of regional interaction. Obsidian sourcing from Fracción Mujular indicates that the settlement had access through trade to at least 11 different sources from across Mexico and Guatemala; a very high level of diversity for such a modest site. Obsidian source distributions also display a strong spatial and temporal pattern throughout the settlement, which may correspond to regional political and economic shifts during the Early Classic to Late Classic transition. Work at Fracción Mujular shows how small-scale settlements can be active players in regional exchange systems while displaying considerable resiliency in the face changing political and economic landscapes.

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This item is under embargo until June 24, 2021.