Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Effects of Aztec Conquest on Provincial Commoner Households at Calixtlahuaca Mexico

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary The project addresses the how the Aztec Empires establishment of control over its provinces affected commoners, through the analysis of excavated artifacts from households at the Postclassic (1100- 1530 CE) site of Calixtlahuaca, in the Toluca Valley of Central Highland Mexico. Following a military conquest whether in pre-historic or modern times an imperial power must then consolidate its power over the newly acquired territory. This involves either co-opting local institutions or undercutting them and instituting new ones, processes that can be met by an entire spectrum of local responses by various groups in the conquered territory. While traditional research on Aztec imperialism has focused geographically on the imperial core and thematically on interactions between elites, this project addresses how the Aztec Empires establishment of control over its provinces affected the commoners who made up the majority of the population, adding a valuable dimension to models of Aztec imperialism. The project will focus on changes in economic interaction and cultural practice, two domains where previous work suggests that Aztec processes of consolidation may have affected commoners as well as elites. In order to distinguish the results of imperial consolidation from more generalized regional cultural change, the project will compare three time periods (Prior to the establishment of the empire, during the initial imperial formation and expansion into other areas, and after the Aztec conquest of the study site itself). Economic control will be assessed using type classification, attribute analysis, and Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) of ceramics. These will be used to identify the extent, intensity and geographic patterning of market networks during each phase, with an emphasis on the ways increasing Aztec political control caused changes in patterns of trade with the imperial core, trade with other regions, the local production of goods, and wealth levels. Cultural change will be examined by calculating the relative frequencies of Aztec-style ritual items, such as figurines and censors, and by the adoption of new food preparation and serving techniques from the imperial core.
Effective start/end date2/15/121/31/14


  • NSF-ENG: Division of Biological & Critical Systems (BCS): $20,000.00


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