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9776 - Obsidian Procurement at Teotepec, Veracruz, Mexico: A Diachronic Perspective

Like much of the Mexican Gulf Coast, the Prehispanic inhabitants of the Sierra de los Tuxtlas relied on non-local obsidian for most of their lithic needs. Obsidian studies are an effective means to explore socio-economic processes in Prehispanic occupation due to the near ubiquity, identified sources, and social/economic importance of obsidian. The non-local origin of obsidian allows for inferences on multi-scale economic interaction while the symbolic/cultural associations of obsidian, as seen with Pachuca green obsidian, provide an opportunity to deduce social interactions. The changing lithic technologies and differential exploitation of obsidian sources inform researchers about the dynamic socio-economic landscape of Mesoamerica.

The large Prehispanic center of Teotepec is located in the Sierra de los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico. Teotepec occupation spans significant portions of the Formative and Classic Period and displays autochthonous development that contrasts with the highland-influenced Classic Period center of Matacapan, 10 kilometers west. Teotepec’s long-term occupation and unique economic situation, as the only non-highland-influenced settlement in the region with significant access to Pachuca obsidian, render it ideal for further constructing a diachronic perspective on lithic provisioning and economic interaction in the region.

In 2007-2008, the Proyecto Arqueologico Teotepec, directed by Dr. Philip J. Arnold III and Dr. Amber M. VanDerwarker, implemented systematic surface collection and targeted excavation of the site. Preliminary lithic analysis identified four main sources of obsidian subjected to a few different production technologies. This research provides the data for constructing a diachronic perspective on lithic provisioning at Teotepec. This paper will address these preliminary findings and discuss inferences derived from these data regarding changes in production and provisioning strategies at Teotepec as well as regional lithic exchange systems.

Keywords: Mesoamerica, Gulf Coast, Lithic Studies, Interaction

Author: Wilson, Nathan Daniel (Arizona State University, Ud States of Am / USA)
Co-Author: Arnold III, Philip J. (Loyola University-Chicago, Chicago, Ud States of Am / USA)

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