“This exciting volume brings together new bioanthropological research from the Maya area and the Valley of Mexico concerning ancient migration, mortuary practices, and identity. A critical and innovative resource for all students of the ancient Americas.” —Geoffrey E. Braswell, editor of The Maya and Their Central American Neighbors: Settlement Patterns, Architecture, Hieroglyphic Texts, and Ceramics
“Highlights how interdisciplinary bioarchaeological work can address specific questions related to migration and ethnicity in past populations.”—Katharine E. Kolpan, Iowa State University
This volume offers a novel interdisciplinary approach to researching population history in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In studies that combine bioarchaeology, ethnohistory, mortuary archaeology, and dental morphology, contributors demonstrate the challenges and rewards of such integrative work when applied to large regional questions.
Bioarchaeology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica: An Interdisciplinary Approach is the result of fieldwork in Honduras, Belize, and a variety of sites in Mexico and addresses two major issues: migration and mobility, and ethnicity and social identity. The former is considered in essays examining biological distances to confirm accounts of migration patterns in the Valley of Mexico, testing hypotheses about mobility in the Classic Maya city of Yaxuná through strontium and isotope analysis, and examining mortuary patterns and practices among several Maya sites. The latter is studied by incorporating dental health data and burial rituals to investigate the social status of sacrificial victims during the Late Classic period. Ethnohistorical sources are combined in an examination of ancient Maya understandings of belonging and otherness, and skeletal remains are analyzed to explore the immigrant makeup of the multiethnic city of Copan.
Revealing how complementary fields of study can together create a better understanding of the complex forces that impact population movements, this volume provides an inspiring picture of the exciting collaborative work currently under way among researchers in the region.
Cathy Willermet, associate professor of anthropology at Central Michigan University, is coeditor of Conceptual Issues in Modern Human Origins Research. Andrea Cucina, professor of bioarchaeology at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico, is coauthor of Before Kukulkán: Bioarchaeology of Maya Life, Death, and Identity at Classic Period Yaxuná. A volume in the series Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Human Past: Local, Regional, and Global Perspectives, edited by Clark Spencer Larsen