ISSN 1989-4104
348 KB
Amber M. VanDerwarkerespañol
Abstract. This paper examines the process of agricultural intensification as it occurred during the Formative period (1400 BC-AD 300) along the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico. Over the course of two millennia, rural villagers living in the Olmec hinterland of the Sierra de los Tuxtlas invested more time and labor into farming activities as they became increasingly sedentary and dealt with episodic volcanic eruptions and ash fall. This period of time witnessed the development of a regional political hierarchy in the Tuxtlas, which also had consequences for village-level subsistence. In examining agricultural intensification in the context of volcanic catastrophe and political development, I analyze archaeological plant and animal data from the site of La Joya, a farming village located in southern Veracruz, Mexico spanning the Formative period. The subsistence data indicate that maize intensification was a long, incremental process that began in the Middle Formative period, hundreds of years before political development and the establishment of a regional center. At the close of the Late Formative period, after the region's political consolidation, a severe volcanic eruption blanketed the region with ash, leading to significant, if temporary, environmental circumscription. La Joya villagers responded to this catastrophe by intensifying maize production on infields and expanding their hunting and fishing territories to exploit a wider range of animal prey.
Keywords: Olmec, Formative, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, agricultural intensification, risk.
Amber M. VanDerwarker ( is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology of the University of California at Santa Barbara. B.A. magna cum laude in Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma (1996), she obtained her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina (2003) with a dissertation on Agricultural Intensification and the Emergence of Political Complexity in the Formative Sierra de los Tuxtlas, Southern Veracruz, Mexico. Her research interests are New World Archaeology (Mexico, Southeastern United States, Peru), subsistence strategies, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, human ecology, environmental archaeology, etc.
How to cite this publication: VanDerwarker, A. M. 2009. Farming and Catastrophe at La Joya: A Consideration of Agricultural Intensification and Risk in the Formative Sierra de los Tuxtlas. Arqueología Iberoamericana 1: 17-40.
Publication date: 14-03-2009.
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