FINGERPRINTING THE PAST: A PALEODERMATOGLYPHIC EXAMINATION OF FIGURINE PRODUCTION AT TEOTIHUACAN, MEXICO
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At the center of archaeological and anthropological discourse is the understanding of power. Determining how power is gained, used, and is engendered has been debated for considerable time. Archaeologically speaking, studies of power are particularly concerned with social power or the modes and methods by which power is expressed in particular contexts. Power is visible in all aspects of human life, from a person’s ability to vote, to a parent’s will to punish his or her child, to a flag representing the political power of a nation, or, in the context of figurine production in the ancient world. Social power in the context of this dissertation is manifested in figurine production at Teotihuacan, Mexico. Situated within the semi-arid central Mexican highlands of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient city of Teotihuacan-located approximately 25 miles northeast of Mexico City-was one of the largest and most prominent cities during its time. Dating from 150 B.C. to 650-700 A.D., Teotihuacan was one of the most prominent religious, political, and economic states in Mesoamerican prehistory. Research conducted at Teotihuacan, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, yielded countless interpretations regarding Teotihuacan’s influence in the Mesoamerican world system. At Teotihuacan, where the populations are thought to have reached 120,000 residents, the Teotihuacanos constructed apartment compounds for housing their expanding population. Varying in size, these compounds primarily housed populations in kinship-based residential units-according to DNA analysis, occupationally-based households, and ethnically-based residential units. To understand the implications of everyday life at Teotihuacan, several intensive excavations and surveys of apartment compounds took place. While excavating apartment compounds, archaeologists successfully reconstructed residential units in which the Teotihuacanos resided, determining the living conditions, diet, religion, craft production, and food preparation of these residential units. While these excavations revealed much knowledge regarding daily life at Teotihuacan, little is still known concerning the extent and importance of craft production in Teotihuacan apartment compounds; this is mostly attributed to the lack of full-scale excavations of residential craft production zones. In the proposed project, the researcher sought to evaluate the social implications of residentially-based figurine production at Teotihuacan, Mexico by determining the sex of the craft producers. Household-based production was studied through the examination of material culture recovered from the 1959 excavations of Plaza One, currently housed at the Paleodermatoglyphic Laboratory at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo and the materials recovered during the 1965 Teotihuacan Valley Project, stored at Pennsylvania State University’s Mesoamerican Economy and Archaeology Laboratory. This project will address this deficiency by concentrating on who produced ceramic crafts such as figurines, a subject that has, as of yet, to receive very little attention by archaeologists working at Teotihuacan. The sample size included approximately 178 fingerprints recovered from figurines from the Plaza One project and approximately 188 fingerprints collected from the Teotihuacan Valley Project. To determine the accuracy of sexing ancient fingerprints, the use of existing dermatoglyphic data-along with an evaluation of ethnohistoric records was used to confirm whether the the sex of figurine producers varied greatly between Teotihuacan’s temporal scale and that of the Aztecs. Then, the project aims to explore several questions pertaining to residential craft production at Teotihuacan including: Was figurine production based on the sex of the producer? Did the sex of past figurine producers vary temporally? Did the sex of figurine producers vary based on figurine types? Do ethnographic and ethnohistoric records aid in deconstructing social power at Teotihuacan? Do these materials assist in identifying sex and gender at Teotihuacan? What role, if any, did the state play in the sex of figurine producers?These questions were addressed through much of the present project to determine how social power was defined at Teotihuacan, the extent of the state’s role in developing a sociopolitical social power, the sexual identity of past figurine producers, and what role figurine producers played in the development of Teotihuacan superstructure. Social power in this context will be applied through a structuration-based approach with the use of the Actor Network Theory.