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The Beginnings of Mesoamerican Civilization
Inter-Regional Interaction and the Olmec


  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107428973

£ 34.99

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About the Authors
  • Mesoamerica is one of several cradles of civilization in the world. In this book, Robert M. Rosenswig proposes that we understand Early Formative Mesoamerica as an archipelago of complex societies that interacted with one another over long distances and that were separated by less sedentary peoples. These early 'islands' of culture shared an Olmec artistic aesthetic, beginning approximately 1250 BCE (uncalibrated), that first defined Mesoamerica as a culture area. Rosenswig frames the Olmec world from the perspective of the Soconusco area on Pacifica Chiapas and Guatemala. The disagreements about Early Formative society that have raged over the past thirty years focus on the nature of inter-regional interaction between San Lorenzo and other Early Formative regions. He evaluates these debates from a fresh theoretical perspective and integrates new data into an assessment of Soconusco society before, during, and after the apogee of the San Lorenzo polity.

    • Rosenswig evaluates the disagreement about Early Formative society from a fresh theoretical perspective
    • Integrates new data in an assessment of Soconusco society before, during, and after the apogee of the San Lorenzo polity
    • Proposes that we understand Early Formative Mesoamerica as an archipelago of complex societies that interacted with one another over long distances
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Rosenswig documents his refreshing approach with important studies of ceramics, figurines, obsidian, and iconography … His compelling, innovative assessment is distinct from other significant works.' Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107428973
    • length: 398 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 170 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • contains: 86 b/w illus. 12 maps 10 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. An Early Formative Mesoamerican Problem:
    1. Introduction
    2. Knowledge in an archipelago of complexity
    3. Mesoamerica's first style horizons and the 'Olmec problem'
    Part II. Archaeological Data:
    4. Settlement patterns and architecture
    5. Diet, food processing and feasting
    6. Representations and aesthetics
    7. Inter-regional exchange patterns
    Part III. Deriving Meaning from the Archaeological Record:
    8. Data and expectations
    9. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Robert M. Rosenswig, State University of New York, Albany
    Robert M. Rosenswig is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York, Albany. He has directed archaeological fieldwork in Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica and has published numerous articles on the origins of agriculture and the development of socio-political complexity in Mesoamerica.

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