MxFormT

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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ Cesaretti; Giulia Nazzaro ♥

♠ Original name ♣ Terminal Formative Basin of Mexico ♥

♠ Alternative names ♣ ♥ This archaeological quasi-polity might be referred to by the names of excavated sites within its bounds, the name of particular Basin of Mexico ceramic phases, or the name of Basin of Mexico subregions within its bounds during the Late and Terminal Formative (also known as First Intermediate Periods 2 and 3 in the alternative Basin of Mexico Project chronology).


♠ Peak Date ♣ ♥

Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 100 BCE-99 CE ♥ [1] The following refers to a previous periodization. The start date 650 BC for the MxFormT quasi-polity is the beginning of the Late Formative period (c.650-200 BC) in the Basin of Mexico (alternatively called "First Intermediate Period 2").[2][3][4] The end date is fuzzy and problematic because it is unclear exactly when in the Terminal Formative period (c.200-1 BC; alternatively called "First Intermediate Period 3") the entire MxFormT quasi-polity was conquered by its aggressive neighbors Cuicuilco (Basin of Mexico-Cui) and Teotihuacan (Basin of Mexico-Teo). Since the MxFormT quasi-polity is made up of multiple, discrete, independent settlement clusters, the timing of their conquest by Cuicuilco and Teotihuacan was most likely different for different areas.[5][6][7][8][9][10] This quasi-polity ceased to exist during the subsequent Tzacualli ceramic phase (c.1 BCE - 100 CE) because the Plinian eruption of Popocatepetl led to the abandonment of most of the quasi-polity', while the rest of the quasi-polity was taken over by Teotihuacan and Cuicuilco.[11][12][13] The date ranges for the eruption/abandonment are c. 100 BCE - 50 CE, and the start date for the Tzacualli ceramic transition is centered around 1 BCE, so I use the date of 1 BCE to designate both events.

♠ Degree of centralization ♣ quasi-polity ♥

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ suspected unknown ♥ The settlement clusters of the MxFormT quasi-polity are thought to have been relatively independent and autonomous chiefdom-level polities during the Late Formative, but then gradually came under the control of neighboring Cuicuilco and Teotihuacan during the Terminal Formative c.200-1 BCE. While some have hypothesized that Cuicuilco headed some kind of Supra-polity political system during the Late Formative,[14][15][16][17] the characteristics of such a Supra-polity political system are unknown to archaeologists.

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ MxFormL ♥
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ continuity ♥ Continuity in material culture, symbolic culture, settlement occupation, and subsistence practices.
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ MxClass ♥
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ Central Highland Mesoamerican Late-Terminal Formative ♥ Including the rest of the Basin of Mexico, the Puebla-Tlaxcalla Valley, Morelos, the Toluca Valley, and parts of Southern Puebla.
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ 40000 ♥ km squared.

♠ Capital ♣ ♥


♠ Language ♣ suspected unknown ♥

General Description

The Basin or Valley of Mexico is a highlands plateau in central Mexico roughly corresponding to modern-day Mexico City. Here, we are interested in the phase of its prehistory known as the Terminal Formative period (c. 100 BCE-99 CE). The most notable aspect of this period is the emergence of Teotihuacan as the largest and most populous city in the New World: by 150 CE, it had a population ranging between 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants distributed across an area of about 20 kilometers.[18]

Political power was inherently theocratic;[19][20][21] beyond that, the exact administrative mechanisms prevalent at the time remain unclear.

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ Cesaretti; Giulia Nazzaro ♥

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ suspected unknown ♥ in squared kilometers. During the Terminal Formative (c.200-1 BC), MxFormT includes at least parts of the regions of Cuauhtitlan, Texcoco, Ixtapalapa, and Chalco. The territory of Cuicuilco and Teotihuacan hegemony is very poorly understood during the Terminal Formative, and it is possible that the entire Basin of Mexico was controlled by the two polities at this time. Prominent excavated sites of the MxFormT quasi-polity include Tlapacoya, Temamatla, Torremote-Tlaltenco, Loma Torremote, Cuanalan, and Tezoyuca.

♠ Polity Population ♣ suspected unknown ♥ people.

♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ 20,000: 100-1 BCE; [40,000-60,000]: 0-99 CE ♥ Inhabitants. "It has been difficult to get people to recognize that the Patlachique phase (c.100-1 BCE) was more than a prelude to the development of Teotihuacan [...] By the end of this phase, the population was likely at least 20,000".[22] During the next stage (Tzacualliphase: AD1-150), Teotihuacan quickly became the largest and most populous metropolis in the New World. By AD 150 the urban area had expanded to approximately 20 km2 and contained some 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants.[23]

Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ [3-4] ♥ levels. Some settlement clusters have a 3-tier settlement hierarchy, while others have a 4-tier settlement hierarchy.[24][25][26]

(1) Regional Center -- 3,000-10,000 inhabitants
(2) Large Village -- 1,000-3,000 inhabitants
(3) Small Village -- 100-1,000 inhabitants
(4) Hamlet -- 10-100 inhabitants

♠ Administrative levels ♣ suspected unknown ♥ levels. Political and religious institutions are thought to be essentially identical for the Central Mexican Highlands Late/Terminal Formative, such that political power was inherently theocratic.[27][28][29] Beyond indirect, theoretical proxies like hierarchical levels of socioeconomic stratification, irrigation systems, monumental construction, and settlement patterns, there is no direct evidence for sociopolitical administrative levels.

♠ Religious levels ♣ 2 ♥ levels. Political and religious institutions are thought to be essentially identical for the Central Mexican Highlands Late/Terminal Formative, such that political power was inherently theocratic.[30][31][32] At least 3 hierarchical levels of religious institutions can be discerned for Cuicuilco. First, formal religious ritual at the household/house-group level (i.e. local corporate/Kin groups, the the basal units of exchange and production) is ubiquitous for the Central Mexican Highlands Late/Terminal Formative, and these are thought to have organized the basal level of the political economy. This has been inferred from the ubiquitous household/house-group shrines and ritual offerings, which are associated with senior lineage houses in house compounds. Compared to junior lineage houses, senior lineage houses also have higher quantities of prestige goods, food storage, obsidian/lithic production, burials, larger houses/rooms, greater architectural quality and ornamentation, and greater occupational time depth. Given that these same ritual tropes are replicated at higher hierarchical levels, it has been inferred that senior lineage religious-ritual authority in access to ancestors was the basis of political-economic authority at the basal house-group (kin/corporate group) level.[33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42] Second, formal settlement- or community-level religious rituals (i.e. wider groupings of hierarchically-ordered kin/corporate-groups) were associated with feasting sponsored by religious/political elites, ritual labor service (production/construction), and sacrificial offerings. Evidence for these religious institutions are centered on settlements' ceremonial precincts (temples and plazas), which directly associate them with the priestly elite and the political economy.[43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50] [51]

(1) Community- or settlement-wide (possibly polity-wide) religious institutions at ceremonial center
(2) House group, corporate/kin-group religious institutions at senior lineage shrine


♠ Military levels ♣ suspected unknown ♥ levels.

Professions

♠ Professional military officers ♣ suspected unknown ♥ [52]

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ suspected unknown ♥ [53]

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ inferred present ♥ Likely to have existed from the Middle Formative period.[54]

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Likely present in Teotihuacan, unknown before.[55]

♠ Examination system ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Possible in the Aztec period, unknown before.[56]

♠ Merit promotion ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Likely present in Teotihuacan, unknown before.[57]

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ inferred present ♥ Likely to have existed from the Middle Formative period onward (council houses).[58]

Law

♠ Formal legal code ♣ inferred absent ♥ Unlikely in this period.[59]

♠ Judges ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Present in the Aztec period, unsure earlier.[60]

♠ Courts ♣ absent ♥ [61]

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ absent ♥ [62]

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ present ♥ Irrigation systems were present in the Cuautitlan region, as well as at early Teotihuacan, Cuicuilco, and numerous other sites across the Basin of Mexico.[63][64][65][66][67]
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ inferred present ♥ The reservoir at Cuicuilco suggests that these amy have been present elsewhere [68]
♠ markets ♣ present ♥ The presence or absence of markets and market exchange is debated for the Late/Terminal Formative due to the ambiguity of the archaeological evidence.[69] or Classic Period.[70][71][72] The archaeological location of physical "marketplaces" at large sites in the Late and Terminal Formative Basin of Mexico is difficult because they constitute open areas that are equifinal with plazas (or other open spaces).
♠ food storage sites ♣ inferred absent ♥ The only known storage features were private bell-shaped storage pits and raised granary structures (cuexcomates).[73][74]

Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Regional and long-distance trade was common,[75][76] and a system of foot paths existed during the Postclassic,[77] but no evidence of roads exist in the limited archaeological record of the Early Formative.
♠ Bridges ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Regional and long-distance trade (crossing rivers) was common,[78][79] but no evidence of bridges exists in the limited archaeological record of the Early Formative
♠ Canals ♣ inferred absent ♥ Canals for transportation purposes would not be developed until the later Postclassic around Tenochtitlan, when they were needed to logistically transport goods through chinampas, dyke systems, and the city itself.[80]
♠ Ports ♣ inferred absent ♥ Lacustrine ports would not be developed until the later Postclassic at Tenochtitlan when they were needed to logistically unload goods onto the urban island; otherwise beaches were used to land canoes.[81]

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ present ♥ In addition to a Terminal Formative quarry located in the Teo Valley (TE-TF-264),[82] abundant stone and obsidian craft production indicates that raw materials were mined away from settlements.[83][84][85]

Information

Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ present ♥ Present since the Archaic Period c. 10 ka.[86]
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ present ♥ First evidence in the Early Formative period (1500-1000 BCE).[87]
♠ Written records ♣ absent ♥ "Absent in the Basin, present in lowland Mesoamerica c. 100 BCE-900CE."[88]
♠ Script ♣ absent ♥ First evidence in Teotihuacan c. 200 CE.[89]
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ absent ♥ [90]

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ absent ♥ [91]
♠ Calendar ♣ absent ♥ First evidence in Mesoamerica c. 500 BCE. Present at Teotihuacan c. 200 CE onwards.[92]
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ absent ♥ Present in Classic Maya 200-900 CE. Possibly present in Teotihuacan. Present in the Basin by c. 1300 CE.[93]
♠ Religious literature ♣ absent ♥ [94]
♠ Practical literature ♣ absent ♥ [95]
♠ History ♣ absent ♥ Present in Classic Maya 200-900 CE. Only records in the Basin are conquest records by the Aztec (1450-1519 CE).[96]
♠ Philosophy ♣ absent ♥ "Known for the colonial period, maybe oral philosophy earlier."[97]
♠ Scientific literature ♣ absent ♥ "Astronomical almanacs inferred for Classic period, c. 200-900, preserved from c. 1300 onwards."[98]
♠ Fiction ♣ absent ♥ [99]

Money

♠ Articles ♣ present ♥ Raw or manufatured prestige goods -- ceramics, precious stone, feathers, textiles, jewelry, ornaments, etc. (both "articles" like jade and feathers, and "tokens" like shells) -- likely functioned as "primitive money" or "social currency."[100][101][102][103][104]
♠ Tokens ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Precious metals ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[105] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[106]
♠ Foreign coins ♣ absent ♥ Raw or manufatured prestige goods -- ceramics, precious stone, feathers, textiles, jewelry, ornaments, etc. (both "articles" like jade and feathers, and "tokens" like shells) -- likely functioned as "primitive money" or "social currency."[107][108][109][110][111]
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ absent ♥ Raw or manufatured prestige goods -- ceramics, precious stone, feathers, textiles, jewelry, ornaments, etc. (both "articles" like jade and feathers, and "tokens" like shells) -- likely functioned as "primitive money" or "social currency."[112][113][114][115][116]
♠ Paper currency ♣ absent ♥ Raw or manufatured prestige goods -- ceramics, precious stone, feathers, textiles, jewelry, ornaments, etc. (both "articles" like jade and feathers, and "tokens" like shells) -- likely functioned as "primitive money" or "social currency."[117][118][119][120][121]

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ ♥
♠ Postal stations ♣ ♥
♠ General postal service ♣ ♥

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ Cesaretti; Giulia Nazzaro ♥

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[122] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[123]
♠ Bronze ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[124] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[125]
♠ Iron ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[126] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[127]
♠ Steel ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[128] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[129]

Projectiles

♠ Javelins ♣ inferred absent ♥ Not included in the following: "Thrusting spears became the primary combact weapons [in the Late Formative situation] as they spread throughout Mesoamerica. Clubs persisted, but declined [...] maces also declined. [...] The distribution of slingstones throughout Mesoamerica indicates the continued use".[130] diverse array of projectile points in archaeological record, and there is evidence for their use in Formative Mesoamerican art.[131][132][133]
♠ Atlatl ♣ inferred present ♥ technology present in the wider region from c.4000 BCE, diverse array of projectile points in archaeological record, and there is evidence for their use in Formative Mesoamerican art.[134][135][136]
♠ Slings ♣ present ♥ The small, round stone balls excavated from Late/Terminal Formative sites in the Basin of Mexico and across Mesoamerica as sling stones.[137][138] increased frequency of groundstone balls (3-10cm) found in Late/terminal Formative; these represent either slings or bolas[139]
♠ Self bow ♣ absent ♥ "There is no substantial evidence of bows and arrows at this time [Middle and Late Formative]".[140] First introduced into Central Mexico during the Middle Postclassic by Chichimec invaders from Northern Mesoamerica.[141][142]
♠ Composite bow ♣ absent ♥ "There is no substantial evidence of bows and arrows at this time [Middle and Late Formative]".[143] First introduced into Central Mexico during the Middle Postclassic by Chichimec invaders from Northern Mesoamerica.[144][145]
♠ Crossbow ♣ absent ♥ "There is no substantial evidence of bows and arrows at this time [Middle and Late Formative]".[146] First introduced into Central Mexico during the Middle Postclassic by Chichimec invaders from Northern Mesoamerica.[147][148]
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥ Gunpowder not yet invented or introduced.
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ absent ♥ Gunpowder not yet invented or introduced.

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ present ♥ "Thrusting spears became the primary combact weapons [in the Late Formative situation] as they spread throughout Mesoamerica. Clubs persisted, but declined [...] maces also declined. [...] The distribution of slingstones throughout Mesoamerica indicates the continued use".[149]
♠ Battle axes ♣ inferred absent ♥ Not included in the following: "Thrusting spears became the primary combact weapons [in the Late Formative situation] as they spread throughout Mesoamerica. Clubs persisted, but declined [...] maces also declined. [...] The distribution of slingstones throughout Mesoamerica indicates the continued use".[150] unknown from the archaeological record, as the known lithic axes seem crude for military weapons, and were probably used as tools[151][152]
♠ Daggers ♣ present ♥ Obsidian knives[153][154]
♠ Swords ♣ inferred absent ♥ Not included in the following: "Thrusting spears became the primary combact weapons [in the Late Formative situation] as they spread throughout Mesoamerica. Clubs persisted, but declined [...] maces also declined. [...] The distribution of slingstones throughout Mesoamerica indicates the continued use".[155] unknown from the archaeological record, and no direct evidence in Central Mexico before the early postclassic.[156]
♠ Spears ♣ present ♥ "Thrusting spears became the primary combact weapons [in the Late Formative situation] as they spread throughout Mesoamerica. Clubs persisted, but declined [...] maces also declined. [...] The distribution of slingstones throughout Mesoamerica indicates the continued use".[157] obsidian and stone spearpoints have been found archaeologically, and there is evidence for their militaristic use in both Formative Mesoamerican and Classic Teotihuacano art.[158][159][160]
♠ Polearms ♣ inferred absent ♥ Not included in the following: "Thrusting spears became the primary combact weapons [in the Late Formative situation] as they spread throughout Mesoamerica. Clubs persisted, but declined [...] maces also declined. [...] The distribution of slingstones throughout Mesoamerica indicates the continued use".[161]

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ absent ♥ Hassig lists war dogs among the new military "technologies" the Spanish introduced to the region in the sixteenth century[162]
♠ Donkeys ♣ absent ♥ Not native to region.
♠ Horses ♣ absent ♥ Not native to region.
♠ Camels ♣ absent ♥ Not native to region.
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥ Not native to region.

Armor

♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ inferred absent ♥ Not depicted in period art, and generally unknown before the Classic Period in Central Mexico.[163]
♠ Shields ♣ present ♥ "In reaction to slings, shields were widely adopted in the Late Formative, especially rectangular ones that protected most of the body [...] The protection afforded the trunk and the limbs".[164]
♠ Helmets ♣ inferred absent ♥ The following implies that shields were the only form of armor: "In reaction to slings, shields were widely adopted in the Late Formative, especially rectangular ones that protected most of the body [...] The protection afforded the trunk and the limbs".[165] known form artwork and figurines, but they may have been purely decorative (i.e. for status).[166][167]
♠ Breastplates ♣ inferred absent ♥ The following implies that shields were the only form of armor: "In reaction to slings, shields were widely adopted in the Late Formative, especially rectangular ones that protected most of the body [...] The protection afforded the trunk and the limbs".[168] breastplates are known from figurines, but they may have been purely decorative (i.e. for status).[169][170][171]
♠ Limb protection ♣ inferred absent ♥ The following implies that shields were the only form of armor: "In reaction to slings, shields were widely adopted in the Late Formative, especially rectangular ones that protected most of the body [...] The protection afforded the trunk and the limbs".[172]
♠ Chainmail ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[173] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[174]
♠ Scaled armor ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[175] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[176]
♠ Laminar armor ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[177] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[178]
♠ Plate armor ♣ absent ♥ The first evidence for the introduction of indigenously produced (copper-based) metallurgy in Mesoamerica is c.600 CE for ornamental valuables,[179] and the system closest to coinage ever practiced in Mesoamerica was the widespread use of cacao beans and copper axes as media of exchange during the Postclassic.[180]

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Lakeshore/island residency, woodcarving expertise, and extensive exploitation of lacustrine resources all suggest that canoes similar to those known from the Late Postclassic were probably used,[181] and the prehisoric use of canoes has often been suggested,[182][183][184][185] and archaeologists believe that warfare was widespread in the Basin of Mexico among polities that shared lakes, but there is no direct evidence of canoes (made of wood) or canoe warfare in the archaeological record.
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ ♥
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ ♥

Fortifications

♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ present ♥ hHilltop sites, island sites, hill-slope nucleated sites.[186]
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Would not survive archaeologically, only detectable via excavation.
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ suspected unknown ♥ May not survive archaeologically, only detectable via excavation.
♠ Ditch ♣ suspected unknown ♥ May not survive archaeologically, only detectable via excavation.
♠ Moat ♣ suspected unknown ♥ May not survive archaeologically, only detectable via excavation.
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ suspected unknown ♥ May not survive archaeologically, only detectable via excavation.
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ present ♥ [187]
♠ Fortified camps ♣ inferred absent ♥ Probably unnecessary given probable scale and distances of military action.
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ absent ♥ None have been found, and fortifications themselves are scarce.
♠ Long walls ♣ 0 ♥ km. None have been found, and fortifications themselves are scarce.
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥ Gunpowder not yet invented or introduced.


Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Religion and Normative Ideology

Deification of Rulers

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

Moralizing Supernatural Powers

♠ Moral concern is primary ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is certain ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing norms are broad ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is targeted ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement of rulers ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by elites ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by commoners ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in afterlife ♣ {absent;present} ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in this life ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is agentic ♣ {absent;present} ♥

These data were reviewed by expert advisors and consultants. For a detailed description of these data, refer to the relevant Analytic Narratives, reference tables, and acknowledgements page. [188] [189] [190]

References

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