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States and Households: The Social Organization of Terrace Agriculture in Postclassic Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca, Mexico

  • Verónica Pérez Rodríguez (a1)
Abstract

This is a study of agricultural intensification on the household scale in a Mixtec cacicazgo of Oaxaca, Mexico, during the Postclassic period (A.D. 800–1521). Through archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic methods this study investigates the roles of the state and the independent farming household in the emergence and operation of intensive agricultural systems, and agricultural terracing. I present data on two Postclassic houses and residential and agricultural terraces excavated at the site of Nicayuju in the municipality of San Juan Teposcolula, Oaxaca. Artifact and architectural data are reported. Ethnographic information is presented and used to create a model for terrace construction that is tested against the terrace excavation data presented in this article. It is argued that Robert Netting’s agrarian smallholder model may characterize the social organization of intensive agricultural production in prehispanic Mixtec society and that intensification may have functioned without direct state direction. The application of the agrarian smallholder model in Prehispanic Mesoamerica is significant in that it suggests that long-lasting and environmentally viable methods of agricultural production may originate and operate at the household and community levels.

Este artículo es un estudio acerca de la intensificación agrícola a nivel de la unidad doméstica en un cacicazgo mixteco posclásico en Oaxaca, México (800–1521 d.C.). A través de métodos arqueológicos, etnohistóricos y etnográficos este artículo investiga el papel que desempeñaron el estado y las unidades domésticas de campesinos independientes en el surgimiento y uso de sistemas de terrazas agrícolas en la región mixteca. Presento nuevos datos de dos casas posclásicas y de terrazas residenciales y agrícolas excavadas en el sitio de Nicayuju en el municipio de San Juan Teposcolula, Oaxaca. Se reportan datos arquitectónicos y materiales. Presento información etnográfica utilizada para generar un modelo de construcción de terrazas que se pone aprueba con los datos de excavación de terrazas agrícolas presentados en este artículo. Arguyo que el modelo del pequeño agricultor creado por Robert Netting puede caracterizar la organización social de la producción agrícola intensiva en la sociedad mixteca prehispánica y que esta producción pudo funcionar sin la intervención directa del estado. La aplicación de este modelo para la Mesoamérica prehispánica es importante ya que sugiere que métodos durareros y ambientalmente viables pueden surgir y funcionar al nivel de la comunidad y la unidad doméstica.

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