Number 32

Editor’s Note: This content is archival.

Nahua Newsletter

November 2001, Number 32

The Nahua Newsletter

A Publication of the Indiana University Center for Latin American and Caribbean

Alan R. Sandstrom, Editor

With support from the Department of Anthropology

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne


Nahua newsletter news

Welcome to the Nahua Newsletter, your friendly doorway to the international
community of people with an interest in the culture, history, and language of the Nahua
and neighboring indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. With this issue we complete 16 years
of publication in service to our readers. In the pages that follow you will find news
items, calls for cooperation, announcements, comments, new publications, book reviews,
and a directory update. We hope that you enjoy this issue of the NN and that you will
take time to send the editor announcements of your activities or questions directed to
other readers, many of whom are internationally renowned experts on Mesoamerica.

As reported in NN 29 we have entered the electronic age, and all previous issues
will soon be available, fully searchable, on the Web. We have not gone overboard,
however, and plan to continue mailing out printed copies to the people in our
directory. Libraries and readers often write to obtain back issues and we thought that
posting them on the Web would be the best way to satisfy that need. Find us at our new
Web address: Our Webmaster, Rick Sutter, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is busy posting issues 10 through 32.
Issues 1 through 9 exist in printed format only and a student assistant is currently
engaged in scanning and correcting this material so that it can also be made available
on the Web. Due to copyright restrictions, the illustrations appearing in each issue
will not be included in the online version.

Our subscriber list continues to grow, reflecting the explosion of interest among
scholars, students, and others in studies of indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. As
always, the NN is distributed free but it continues to survive on donations from
readers. The publication receives no institutional support and we are very pleased that
grass-roots interest has kept it alive and thriving for all of these years. Our
financial situation is stable right now thanks to the many readers who sent
contributions and to a generous anonymous donation. However, it costs about $400 U.S.
to print and mail the NN and funds will be nearly depleted after the upcoming issue.
The bulk of the cost in producing the NN is postage for our foreign readers. It is
important that the publication continues to serve as an international forum and so we
welcome any and all donations. Please make out checks or money orders payable to Nahua
Newsletter. All funds are applied to offset printing and mailing costs. Be assured that
there are no administrative charges of any kind. See below for mailing

In addition to our kind financial supporters I would like to thank also the people
who labor to make each issue a success. Transcribing, typing, proofreading, and layout
design – not to mention maintaining the subscriber list, labeling, stuffing envelopes,
and preparing the bulk mailing – are all crucial tasks done by volunteers. Please join
me in acknowledging the contributions of the following people to the advancement of
Nahua studies: Donna Rhodes, Amanda Chambers-Burt, Bobbi Shadle, Brendon Maxwell, and
Pamela Effrein Sandstrom.

One benefit of the NN is that we try to keep readers up to date on important
publications. Books and articles on indigenous Mesoamerica are published in a number of
languages and in a wide variety of outlets, some of which are difficult for people to
locate. Read over the extensive book notes featured in this issue’s “News Items” to
find sources that may be of interest to you or that may aid in your research efforts.
To contribute to this program, please send notification of your publications so that we
can alert readers. It pays to let others know about your activities and it helps
colleagues to keep on top of a rapidly expanding literature.

Please send all inquiries, announcements, contributions, or calls for cooperation,
in digitized form if possible, to:

Alan R. Sandstrom
The Nahua Newsletter
Department of Anthropology
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
By e-mail:

News Items

1. Thanks to Albert Wahrhaftig (Sonoma State University, California) who wrote from
Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico, to inform us that the address of the Web site printed in NN
30 and NN 31 was incorrect. Despite our best efforts to avoid errors, a letter was left
out of the published electronic address. Please see our correct Web address noted above
in “Nahua Newsletter News.”

He also writes, “I am working on ‘Anales de Tepoztlan’ Web pages that will be open
to all scholars interested in Tepoztecan studies and open to all Tepoztecos who might
wish to contribute. This is a project of Yolanda Corona (UNAM-Xochimilco), Pacho Lane
(UAEM Cuernavaca), and myself. I will send notice to the NN when we are ready to place
the pages on a server.”

2. The following announcement and call for papers comes from Juergen Stowasser: “The
University of Vienna (Institute for the Study of Religions and Institute of History)
and the Austrian Latin America Institute are organizing a symposium to be held June
6-9, 2002, in Goettweig, on cultural change in Mesoamerica after the Conquest of
Central Mexico, 1519-1521. The conference is entitled: ‘Cultural Change in 16th-Century

“Scholars from Mexico, the United States, and Europe will debate the various aspects
of the cultural, social, religious, and political change in colonial Mexico. The
emphasis of the conference is on the interdisciplinary and comparative perspective and
on approaches from different disciplines such as ethnohistory, cultural studies,
semiotics, intercultural philosophy, and comparative religious studies.

“Cultural change is understood as a dynamic and heterogenous process in which the
‘acculturated ones’ participate in an active, creative, and sometimes also subversive
way. A special focus of the meeting will be the analysis of colonial codices as
documents of cultural change, but papers based on other sources are welcome as well. In
addition to the presentation of studies of postconquest Mexico, the conference will
also reflect on models of cultural change in general and ask for a greater
understanding of intercultural encounter situations.

“The symposium will be held at the Monastery of Goettweig near Vienna, founded in
1083. Registration will be open to all interested persons. Registration fees are $100
(students $50). The conference will include keynote speeches, lectures from invited
speakers, and mesas redondas (working seminars) with a limited number of participants.
A workshop on Nahua writing systems will be held June 9-12 in Vienna. Registration
forms are available at

“Call for Papers: We invite papers on understanding cultural change in its
heterogeneity – religious aspects, early missions; ecological dimensions, the role of
epidemics, economic changes, gender concepts; cultural change and literacy –
mesoamerican and European writing traditions; colonial codices – case studies; between
adaption and resistance – ruptures and continuities of Mesoamerican traditions in the
colonial period; methodological questions of intercultural interpretation; reflections
on models of cultural change, acculturation, “sincretism.”

“Submission of Papers: All paper sessions are limited to 10-15 minutes with five
minutes for questions/discussion. Proposals for papers must include the registration
form and an abstract of a maximum of 300 words (to be sent in an e-mail or asrtf-file
to Deadline for submission is January 31, 2002. Confirmation
of acceptance will be no later than February 20, 2002. Accepted abstracts will be
posted on the conference Web site at All papers given at the
conference will be published in an anthology.

“Proposals for mesas redondas: Submitted papers will be read in mesas redondas
focusing on the topics listed above. We also accept proposals for sponsoring mesas on
topics within the general theme of the conference. Check our Web site at or for further information.”

3. Here is a message sent from the Archivo Histórico del Agua (CNA-CIESAS);
contact them by e-mail at “Nos es grato comunicarles la
reapertura de los servicios del Archivo Histórico del Agua (CNA-CIESAS), sito en
Balderas 94, en las inmediaciones del Centro Histórico, a partir del
próximo 4 de septiembre de 2001. El horario de atención al público
será de 9:00 a 15:00 horas de lunes a viernes. Los teléfonos del Archivo
a disposición de los interesados son: 55-217362 y 55- 211939 y nuestro correo

“El Archivo Histórico del Agua surgió a partir de un proyecto
compartido de la Comisión Nacional del Agua (CNA) y el Centro de Investigaciones
y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS). Inició su
actividad el 1º de febrero de 1994. En la actualidad el acervo del Archivo cuenta
con los siguientes fondos: Infraestructura Hidráulica, Consultivo Técnico
del IMTA, Aprovechamientos superficiales, Comisión del Río Grijalva y
Colección fotográfica. El tipo de documentos que contiene es, desde
luego, variado: memorias descriptivas y estructurales, casos jurídicos, oficios
al ejecutivo local y federal, planos constructivos, croquis, mapas, fotografías,
etcétera. La documentación cuenta con un orden cronológico que
inicia, en muchos de los expedientes, desde 1880, sin descartar la copia mecanografiada
de documentos coloniales.

“El AHA alberga, además, una biblioteca especializada sobre historia del agua
en México y usos sociales, que custodia 7,375 volúmenes, entre ellos 130
títulos de revistas. A guisa de ejemplo, es posible consultar en ella la
colección completa de la revista: Irrigación en México

“Inicialmente el Archivo incluía dos actividades del quehacer
académico: la archivística y la historiográfica. Continuaremos,
desde ahora, con la primera, y esperamos recuperar, lo más pronto posible, la
labor de investigación a partir de los acervos archivístico y
bibliográfico del Archivo, para lo cual deseamos contar con su
colaboración y les extendemos una cordial invitación a visitarnos.”

4. Paul Proulx writes with this correction:

“Belatedly reading NN 30, I was dismayed to read the following [written by Terry
Stocker]: ‘Healan (1993) interchanges macana and macuahuitl. This is not accurate.
Macana is a Spanish word referring to any club. Macuahuitl is a Nahuatl word referring
to an obsidian lined shaft. One would assume that the Spanish adapted macana from
macuahuitl’ (NN 30:27).

“In fact, the Spanish adapted macana from maqana, which is the Quechua word meaning
something one hits with, typically a club. The underlying verb is maqa- “hit.” It is
found in most dialects and surely dates back to Proto Quechua.”

5. Also from Paul Proulx: “This is a research report and request for assistance from
the NN. About ten years ago, I put aside teaching to pursue a major research interest
which would require all my time. This was a reconstruction of Proto Algonquian society
through the reconstructed Proto Algonquian language, and a diachronic account of its
development into the ethnographically attested Algonquian societies. Capitalizing on my
grad school training in social anthropology and archaeology, I set about integrating
the insights of these subdisciplines with my own knowledge of the Algonquian languages.
I believe that the methods I have used may be relevant to the study of Maya prehistory
as well.

“In the last few years, I have begun piecing together the many insights gained,
using cross cultural comparisons, and organizing an integrated anthropological
linguistic account of this Proto Algonquian society and its divergent developments
through time. This has required developing an understanding of how various hitherto
isolated anthropological hypotheses might interact in a particular social context, and
be related in diachronic sequences of probability (if not of cause and effect). While
it would be premature and perhaps overly optimistic to suggest that this involves the
construction of an integrated overview and synthesis of anthropological theory in the
relevant areas, it can certainly be seen as the beginning of such a project.

“At first, I used the status of women in prehistoric times as the major theme around
which I organized my accounts. However, although this led to many insights, I
ultimately found it useful to include male interests and motivations on an equal
footing with those of women: one cannot fully understand the one without the other. In
the end, ‘gender relations’ has proved a useful focus since they touch upon nearly
everything – and do so in societies of every kind.

“The accounts I am working on constitute hypotheses, which require further
elaboration. They also require something akin to replication: an extension to a variety
of other proto languages and societies, so that cross-cultural cause and effect can be
discerned. Much of this is beyond my resources as an individual. If an integrated
anthropological linguistic science of prehistory is to emerge, and provide a credible
account of human social evolution over the last five to ten thousand years, it will
require the efforts and resources of several scholars and many graduate students. The
present work is only a very small beginning. Moreover, it is not quite finished, and
could benefit immensely by an exchange of ideas. I work well in monastic isolation, but
have probably pushed that approach about as far as is useful.

“I look forward to hearing from those who would be willing to read portions of the
work in the more or less near future, and provide me with constructive feedback. You
can look for your areas of interest in the tentative table of Index that follows. The
title of the work is ‘Weather and Women in the Prehistoric Algonquian Societies of the
Lower Great Lakes: A Lexical Reconstruction of the Main Effects of Climate Changes on
Algonquian Subsistence Economies, Social Organizations, and Sexual Ideologies Since
about 700 B.C.’

“An abstract of the work is as follows: Comparing detailed language data with the
archeological record, produced the following hypothesis as to early Algonquian
prehistory. The Proto Algonquians (PAs) were uxorilocal foragers who lived in
endogamous local groups called *4o:te:nayali, each ideally consisting of a kindred,
subdivided into two exogamous halves by the same sex versus cross sex status of
siblings – whose children ideally married. The PA people lived in southeastern Ontario
about 700 B.C. Their subsistence economy was one of mixed foraging, though they also
cultivated the gourd. Their main source of protein was the deer, and their main source
of carbohydrate was wild rice.

“When the wild rice harvests began failing ca. 700 B.C. or shortly thereafter due to
an increase in the fall rains, at least four groups migrated into the mast forests of
the East Coast, where acorns and other nuts largely replaced wild rice as their source
of carbohydrate. Those who stayed behind, the Central Algonquians, increased their
hunting of bison and caribou, replacing what Peggy Sanday calls an ‘inner orientation’
by ‘outer orientation.’ They shifted from wife-centered residence to husband-centered,
subdivided in their residential units into two or more camps or barrios
(*4o:te:nawali), and developed agnatic succession. They more often married outside the
local group.

“Adult men already were politically central to PA society, but, despite the growth
in male importance due to the increase in big game hunting and the shift to husband
centered residence, PCA society retained public domain sexual equality (Sanday), and
female autonomy (Schlegel). During the course of the Scandic period, which begins ca.
A.D. 300, women adapted maize to the climate they lived in, learned to make ceramic
cooking pots, and developed a maple sugar industry. The Scandic was drier and thus
began a period of good wild rice harvests, but they began to fail again with the onset
of the wetter Neo-Atlantic episode, ca. A.D. 800. This time, women were able to
substitute maize cultivation for the wild rice. This permitted concentrations of
population, albeit limited by continued reliance upon meat for protein.

“It was only when the drier weather of the Pacific episode, ca. A.D. 1300, permitted
the large scale cultivation of beans, that it became possible to substitute vegetable
protein for that of meat, and very large populations could be concentrated in palisaded
villages. Where this took place, the over-hunting of game led to an intense male
competition for hunting grounds which, together with husband-centered residence and the
dense population, motivated the development of patrilineages. While warfare may have
bolstered the warriors’ prestige, and most warriors were men, bean cultivation put the
subsistence economy firmly in female hands. As a result, female prestige became higher
than male in those areas where hunting had declined in importance. Those groups which
experienced too high a male mortality withdrew north, or fled west, and adapted a big
game hunting subsistence economy. To varying degrees, male prestige eclipsed female
prestige in these groups. In both areas, sex joined age in determining ascribed

“In at least one instance – Plains Cree – big-game hunting produced a
semi-egalitarian society (Begler) contrasting with the more egalitarian societies of
the traditional Algonquians. In this same semi-egalitarian society, obviation was used
strategically to marginalize women in stories, while fragmentary information suggests
that perhaps the opposite was true in some of the societies where female prestige
eclipsed male.

“In conclusion, climate change and its impact upon food plants created crises which
women responded to with agriculture, and men with warfare or migration or both. The
resulting direct and indirect changes to the subsistence economy led to major
differences in gender relations, depending upon the choices made.”

Table of Index

Part I: Introduction

1: The Importance of Algonquian Women to World Culture

2: What Prehistory is Good For

3: Proto-Languages and Proto-Societies

4: Reality Constraints [Recently Conditioned Social Features Versus Survivals; The
Principle of Continuous Transmission; Received Ideas, Intellectual Fads; Scholarly

5: Re-Contextualization [Literacy and De-Contextualization; Science and Science
Fiction; The Algonquian View of Knowledge; Stories and Re-Contextualization]

Part II: The Algonquians in Space, Time, and Environmental Context

1: Algonquian Language Groupings

2: The Proto Algonquians [The Proto Algonquian Homeland; The Likely Time Depth of PA
Society; Smoking Pipes, Archery, Dugout Canoes, and the Hopewell Episode; Pottery and
Maple Sugar; The PA Subsistence Economy; Gathering and Hunting; PA Horticulture]

3: The Proto Central Algonquians [The Proto Central Algonquian Homeland; The Likely
Time Depth of Late PCA Society; War Paths; Replacement of the Spear Thrower by the Bow;
Shooting Replaces Throwing; The Neo-Atlantic Episode; The Sub-Atlantic Central
Algonquian Subsistence Economy; PCA: Incipient Maize Agriculture; PCA Transformations,
and Symbols of Agricultural Fertility]

4: The Proto Lake Algonquians [The Proto Lake Homeland; The Proto Lake Subsistence
Economies; Upland Lake Shifting Agriculture, Marked-Off Agricultural Land; Upland Lake
Symbols of Agricultural Fertility; Palisades, War Paths, and the Likely Time Depth of
Proto Lake Society; Logs by the Hundreds; Dating Palisade Building; Dating War Paths
and the Beginnings of the Upper Lake Adaptation; The Pacific Episode, and the Breakup
of Proto Lake Society; Late Developments: Intensive Warfare, Dialectal Relationships,
and the Agricultural Upland Lake Migrations; Warfare and the Upland Lake

5: External and Internal Social Relations [The Use of Foreign Languages]

6: Overview and Conclusions

Part III: Prehistoric Algonquian Social Organization and Marriage

1: Introduction to Part III

2: Residence [Residence-Linked Terms; Central Algonquian Multilocality and PCA
Residence; Dating Early Central Algonquian Husband Centered Residence; The Internal
Organization of Multilocal Bands; PA Residence]

3: Descent [Consistent Organizational Sex Bias, and Descent; Bilateral Cross Cousin
Marriage (BCCM) Versus PCA Patriliny; Diminutive *-4ehs in Affine = Consanguine

4: Primogeniture and PCA Succession

5: A Typology of Algonquian Organizational Sex Biases

6: Endogamy [Local Endogamy; The Endogamous Unit and its Exogamous Subdivisions]

7: Marriage Classes [CRFA Terms; Marriage Classes; Differential Development of the CRFA
Sibling Terms; The Subarctic Central Algonquians; The Agricultural Upland Lake
Algonquians; The Transitional Central Algonquians]

8: Irregular Marriage = Irregular Residence [Coresident Outsider Children-in-Law from
Other Local Groups; Irregularly Non-Coresident Same Sex Siblings as ‘Friends’; Insider
Versus Outsider Husbands]

Part IV: The Statuses of the Sexes in Prehistoric Algonquian Societies

1: Introduction [The Work of Early Anthropologists; The Work of Later
Anthropologists; Situating the Author; Summary of Parts III-IV]

2: Female Status in Prehistoric Algonquian Societies [Sex Role Plans (Sanday); Plant
Classification Terminology and Orientation; Animal Classification Terminology and
Orientation; The Horticulturalists; The Big Game Hunters; The Foragers, the Proto-Lake
Algonquians; The Saguenay Montagnais; Conclusions; Giving Birth and Inner Versus Outer
Orientation; Hypocoristic Register and Orientation; Algonquian Public Domain Sexual
Equality; Domestic Relations and Female Autonomy (Schlegel)] [Chapter 3 missing]

4: Constructing the Other: A Typology of Algonquian Socio-Political Sex Biases [Adult
Men as Socio-Political Insiders; The End of Adult Male Socio-Political Insider Status;
Wife Terms]

5: Population Density, Game Scarcity, and Unilineal Organization [Lowered Male

6: Sex Biases and Subcategories of Obviation

7: Sex Biases and Obviation in Texts

8: Female Status in Some Algonquian Societies [Big Game Hunters With Strong Consistent
Male Organizational Bias (Plains Crees); Big Game Hunters Lacking Strong Consistent
Organizational Bias (the Blackfoots and Boreal Montagnais); Foragers Lacking A Strong
Consistent Organizational Bias (the Saguenay Montagnais, Menominees, and
Proto-Algonquians); Foragers With Strong Consistent Male Organizational Bias (the
Ottawas); Agriculturalists With A Strong Consistent Female Organizational Bias (the
Unami Delawares); Agriculturalists With A Strong Consistent Male Organizational Bias
(the Proto-Central-Algonquians and Foxes); Agriculturalists Lacking A Strong Consistent
Organizational Bias (the Cheyennes); Conclusions]

9: Sex, Gender, and Female Status Cross Culturally [Female Status in Old World
Societies With Sex Gendered Languages; Female Status in Algonquian Societies

10: The Causes of Differential Female Status (Conclusions) [Residence, Descent, and
Female Status; Endogamy and Female Status; Subsistence Economy and Female Status;
Cumulative Effects]

Part V: The Transition in Algonquian World View From Sexual Integration to

1: The Evidence of Transition [The Development of Unilineal Descent Groups; Ascribed
Status and Authority; Pure-Egalitarian Versus Semi-Egalitarian Societies; CRFA Sibling
Terms and Ascribed Status; Sexually Specific Terminology Replaces Ambiguous; The
Development of Sexually Specific General Nouns; Organizational Sex Bias in Terms for
Prototypical Relatives (A Typology); Relatives of Both Sexes as Prototypical Referents
in a Bilateral Society; Male Relatives as Prototypical Referents in a Patri-Biased
Society; Female Relatives as Prototypical Referents in a Matri-Biased Society; Affinal
Male Relatives as Prototypical Referents in a Matri-Biased Society: Case One; Dating
Blackfoot Multilocality; Affinal Male Relatives as Prototypical Referents in a
Matri-Biased Society: Case Two; The Kin Type of a Prototypical Relative, and Societal
Type; Prototypical PA Relatives; Summary]

2: The Contexts of the Transition [Local Group Size; Population Density and Homeland
Size, Population Distribution; Cognitive Style; Color Categories; Cognitive Style and
Autonomy; Sexual Integration Versus Segregation and World View; Conclusions]

Part VI: Epilog

1: Towards a Diachronic Account of Some Central Algonquian Societies [The Central
Algonquian Big Game Hunters; The Upland Lake Algonquian Agriculturalists; Comparison
With the Eastern Algonquian Societies; The Central Algonquian Foragers]

2: Algonquian Adaptations

3: Other Pre-Neolithic Societies

4: The Status of Women in Pre-Neolithic Society

5: Speculations on the Early Prehistory of Humanity [Our Primate Origins; The Hominid
Period; The Cultural Revolution; The Agricultural Revolution; The Industrial
Revolution; The Information Revolution; The Future]

6: The Scientific Status of my Findings

Appendices: New or Improved Lexical Reconstructions of Animal Names; New or Improved
Lexical Reconstructions (Plants); New or Improved Lexical Reconstructions (Others);
Male Centrality in Several Languages; The Supporting Data for Some Key Lexical

If readers wish to discuss the work, please contact Paul Proulx by phone at
902-386-2079, or by e-mail at or

6. William Willard writes to inform readers, “I am an editor for Wicazo Sa Review,
an American Indian journal published by the University of Minnesota Press. The Review
is almost 17 years old, just a bit older than the NN. For the 17th volume, we are
publishing on North American indigenous self-governance and the exercise of
sovereignty. It is our intent to collect the best of the articles plus invited papers
to create a book on that topic. Since the scope is North America, we do need a good
representation of articles on indigenous governance in Mexico. The declaration by the
Nahuas of Chicontepec (NN 30) is an example of the kind of work we are looking

William Willard’s address is Department of Comparative American Cultures, Washington
State University, Pullman, WA 99164. His e-mail address is

7. The NN received this announcement from the Proyecto Archivo General Agrario
(CIESAS RAN): “Por este medio nos permitimos comunicarles de la aparición
Boletín del Archivo General Agrario, enero-marzo 2001, número 12
(CIESAS-RAN), publicación del proyecto Archivos Agrarios coordinado por la Dra.
Teresa Rojas Rabiela. Asimismo, les recordamos que todos los boletines pueden ser
consultados en el apartado de proyectos especiales a


“Presentación,” Antonio Escobar Ohmstede y Teresa Rojas Rabiela

“Historia y conflicts agrarios en la exhacienda de Tanchachín y
conformación del ejido La Morena-Tanchachín, Aquismón, San Luis
Potosí,” Martha Flores Pacheco

“La lucha por la propiedad de la tierra del rancho de la Concepción, Villa
Nicolás Romero, estado de México, 1915-1922,” Martín
González Solano

“Las tareas del proyecto Archives Agrarios para el 2001,” Teresa Rojas Rabiela y Laura

Sección documental:

“La composición de tierras de San Mateo Mexicaltzingo, estado de México,”
Ismael Maldonado Salazar

“La fundación colonial de San Francisco Apasco, México,” Teresa Rojas
Rabiela y Regina Olmedo


“Esta tierra es nuestra,” Arnulfo Embriz

8. Vania Smith has written to say that she finished her master’s thesis at the
University of Florida and will be continuing graduate school at the University of
Illinois at Chicago and the Field Museum. The title of her thesis is “Ethnomedical
Agroforestry: Ethnoecological Practices among Nahua Chamanes of the Huasteca Region in
Veracruz, Mexico.” Please see the Directory Update section for her new address.

9. Eileen M. Mulhare de la Torre, longtime loyal reader of the NN, sends the
following communication: “The second revised edition of my book Totimehuacán: Su
historia y vida actual has now been published. The prologue is by Lic. Herón
García Martínez, and the publisher is the H. Ayuntamiento de Municipio
del Puebla, Programa de Atención a la Cultura Popular, 2001. Readers will note
the resemblance to the Smithsonian monographs of the 1940s and 1950s. U.S. academics
usually consider this format old-fashioned but it serves the book’s principal audience,
namely, the Totimehuacanos themselves and other Mexicans who routinely seek information
about the town (e.g., government agencies, regional scholars, teachers, students, and

“Like the first edition (1995), the new work tells the story of the Totimehuacanos
from the Pre-Classic (695 B.C.E.) to the present, and discusses all major aspects of
community life today. It incorporates a wide range of data sources such as archaeology,
codices, archives, ethnography, and oral history. The second edition, however, includes
fuller coverage of the colonial period, a new section on contemporary social
organization (household, kinship, marriage, etc.), many more details on popular
Catholicism, and more tables, appendices, and photographs. About two dozen research
libraries in the U.S. and Mexico have received copies of the book, so interested
readers should be able to borrow one via interlibrary loan.”

Eileen can be reached at

10. Berthold Riese has sent the NN a recently published, spiral-bound, 175-page
edited volume entitled Einführung in die Indianersprachen (Bonn, 2001). It
contains 20 chapters on a number of topics, including Native American language studies
centered on the Mesoamerican culture area. Many chapters have been published elsewhere.
Most are in German but several appear here in English or Spanish. Following is a
selection of the chapters that may be of interest to readers:

“Cahuilla Grammar,” by Hansgakob Seiler

“Alfabetos de las lenguas mayances,” “Alfabeto quiché,” by David G. Fox, Carol
Jaeger de Fox, and Felipe Rosalito Saquic Calel

“Alfabeto oficial de las lenguas mayas de Guatemala,” by Oxlajuuj Keej Maya’ Ajtz’iib’

“Classification of Mesoamerican Indian Languages,” by Jorge A. Suárez

“A Linguistic Look at the Olmecs,” by Lyle Campbell and Terrence Kaufman

Dr. Riese writes, “Please announce this in your NN. Copies are offered in exchange
for scholarly publications.” His address is Dr. Berthold Riese, Professor für
Ethnologie/Altaamerikanistik, Universität Bonn, Römerstrasse 164, D-53117
Bonn, Germany. His e-mail address is

He also sends notice of his reviews (Buchbesprechungen) of the following two

Arellano Hoffmann, Carmen, Peer Schmidt, und Christina Hoffmann-Randall. Die
Bücher der Maya, Mixteken und Azteken: Die Shrift und ihre Funktion in
vorspanischen und kolonialen Codices. 2nd ed. Schriften der Universitätsbibliothek
Eichstäatt, Band 34. Pp. 535, zahlreiche schwarzweisse und farbige Abbildungen.
Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 1998. Reviewed in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie

Buschmann, Eduard, und Wilhelm von Humboldt. Wörterbuch der mexicanischen
Sprache. Mit einer Einleitung und Kommentar herausgegeben von Manfred Ringmacher.
Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schriften zur Sprachwissenschaft. Herausgegeben von Kurt
Mueller-Vollmer in Zusammenarbeit mit Tilman Borsche, Bernhard Hurch, Frans Plank,
Manfred Ringmacher, Jurgen Trabant, und Gordon Whitaker. Betreut durch die
Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Dritte Abteilung, Amerikanische
Sprachen, Abteilungsherausgeber, Manfred Ringmacher, Dritter Band. Pp. lxxvi+1034, 1
Karte und mehrere teils farbige teils schwarzweiffe Faksimiles von Handschriften und
Editionen. Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2000. Reviewed in Zeitschrift
für Ethnologie 126(2001):121-25.

11. Dr. Ursula Dyckerhoff-Prem and Prof. Dr. Hanns J. Prem have written to announce
a new project: “The goal is to publish a scholarly edition of ‘Orígenes de los
mexicanos’ and ‘Genealogía mexicana,’ both published at the end of the 19th
century by García Icazbalceta but never the subject of a serious study. The work
will include a line by line synoptic comparison of the two manuscripts in a new
paleographic format. It will be accompanied by a series of studies, including
consideration of who wrote the manuscripts and an attempt to determine the author’s
original intent.”

12. Brad R. Huber and Alan R. Sandstrom wish to announce the recent publication of
their edited volume entitled Mesoamerican Healers. Austin: University of Texas Press,
2001. $50.00 (cloth) ISBN 0-292-73454-9. $24.95 (paper) ISBN 0-292-73456-5. (See NN 29
for the table of Index.) From the back cover:

“Healing practices in Mesoamerica span a wide range, from traditional folk medicine
with roots reaching back into the pre-Hispanic era to westernized biomedicine. These
sometimes cooperating, sometimes competing practices have attracted attention from
researchers and the public alike, as interest in alternative medicine and holistic
healing continues to grow.

“Responding to this interest, the essays in this book offer a comprehensive,
state-of-the-art survey of Mesoamerican healers and medical practices in Mexico and
Guatemala. The first two essays describe the work of pre-Hispanic and colonial healers
and show how their roles changed over time. The remaining essays look at contemporary
healers, including bonesetters, curers, midwives, nurses, physicians, social workers,
and spiritualists. Using a variety of theoretical approaches, the authors examine such
topics as the intersection of gender and curing, the recruitment of healers and their
training, healer’s compensation and workload, types of illnesses treated and
recommended treatments, conceptual models used in diagnosis and treatment, and the
relationships among healers and between indigenous healers and medical and political

13. James W. Dow and Alan R. Sandstrom announce the publication of their new edited
volume Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers: The Anthropology of Protestantism in Mexico and
Central America. Religion in the Age of Transformation series. Westport, Conn.: Praeger
Publishers, 2001. $69.00 (cloth) ISBN 0-275-95852-3. (See NN 30 for the table of
Index.) Jim Dow writes:

“Based on empirical analysis and ethnographic fieldwork this collection of original
articles on contemporary Protestant religions in Mexico and Central America examines
regions ranging from the Pacific coast in the north to Guatemala in the south. These
new studies reveal that Protestantism was on the rise in the last decades of the
twentieth century because it opposed political structures that were largely unworkable
in a new age of economic expansion and population growth. The studies cover regional
and local variations in the growth of Protestantism, examine numerous reasons for the
variations, and compare rural villages with modern communities. The book concludes that
the modern religious conflicts bear only a general resemblance to the anti-Catholic
issues that impelled the original Protestant Reformation in Europe.

“Relying on traditional scientific principles of data recording and theory
development, the contributors look into the lives of contemporary rural people, Indian
and mestizo, and provide data that enhance the general study of modern religious
movements. The chapters examine, among other topics, the relationship between religion
and demography, the role of leadership in church growth, the theories of Max Weber
relating capitalism and Protestantism, religious conversion, and the modernization of
Indian communities. Scholars and students who are interested in cultural anthropology,
religious change, and religion in Latin America will find in these pages a unique and
enlightening examination of Protestantism’s rise and spread in Latin America.”

14. Jacqueline de Durand-Forest, Danièle Dehouve, and Éric Roulet
write to announce publication of their book Parlons nahuatl: La langue des
aztèques. Collection “Parlons.” Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999. Pp. 346. ISBN
2-7384-8545-6 (book with cassette). From the back cover:

“Parlons nahuatl est une initiation à la langue classique des Aztèques
et à une variante encore en usage au Mexique, dans l’État de Guerrero.
C’est aussi une introduction à la culture, à l’organisation sociale, aux
croyances de ceux qui parlaient et parent encore cette langue. Un chapitre est
consacré aux toponymes, où se manifestent les mécanismes de la
langue et de l’écriture aztèque. L’ouvrage s’achève par un double
lexique et une abondante bibliographie thématique.

“Un enregistrement de nahuatl moderne accompagne cet ouvrage. Les auteurs ont
souhaité s’adresser à la fois aux étudiants, aux futurs
américanistes et à tous ceux qui veulent préparer ou prolonger
leur séjour au Mexique.”

15. The NN wishes to announce the following work: Aquellos que vuelan: Los totonacos
en el siglo XIX. By Victoria Chenaut. Historia de los pueblos indígenas de
México. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social; Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1995. Pp. 302. ISBN
968-496-298-3 (paper). ISBN 968-496-259-2 (set). From the back cover:

“El siglo XIX mexicano fue, para los pueblos indígenas, una época de
profundas transformaciones. En particular, el Totonacapan no fue ajeno a las desputas
por la nacionalidad, ni a las pugnas entre liberales y conservadores y mucho menos a
las intervenciones extranjeras. Sin embargo, sus vicissitudes históricas fueron
un péndulo que lo mismo significó la aculturación que el apego a
antiguas prácticas religiosas; de la huida hacia las montañas y barrancos
de la Sierra Norte de Puebla a la integración social junto con los mestizos; de
la defensa jurídica de sus propiedades comunales a la rebelión y el

“Los estudiosos, y los lectores en general, encontrarán en el presente texto
de Victoria Chenaut un interesante análisis del proceso de
desamortización de las tierras totonacas, de cómo la población
logró mantener como propiedad colectiva una gran parte de sus territorios.
Asimismo, la autora nos ofrece un pormenorizado recuento de rebeliones y motines que
protagonizaron los totonacos durante el siglo XIX.

“Como sucedió en muchos otros lugares, los pueblos totonacos sufrieron la
pérdida de cultura, tierras e identidad; pero siempre conservando, desde su
singular estrategia de sobrevivencia, la posibilidad de rehacer una y otra vez sus
relaciones intercomunitarias. En este arduo proceso de reconstrucción
étnica el hábitat, los cultivos tradicionales y las formas de la
costumbre cotidiana jugaron un papel de primer orden.

“La autora de Aquellos que vuelan nos presenta una visión de la vida
cotidiana de los totonacos de la sierra y de la costa, de una región y sus
habitantes que han sobrevivido entre la ambigüedad de las formas, pero que una vez
disipada nos muestra el rostro real de los totonacos.”

16. The NN received a copy of the following book about the history of indigenous
peoples of the Huasteca region: De la costa a la sierra: Las huastecas, 1750-1900. By
Antonio Escobar Ohmstede. Historia de los pueblos indígenas de México.
México. D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social; Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1998. Pp. 253. ISBN
968-496-337-8 (paper). ISBN 968-496-259-2 (set). From the back cover:

“Los pueblos indios de las huastecas han sido actores fundamentales de la
conformación de esta región de México que comparten los actuales
estados de Hidalgo, Veracruz, San Luis Postosí, Tamaulipas y Puebla, y que ha
estado inmersa, como otras, en los grandes procesos históricos que ha vivido el

“Basada en fuentes administrativas, manuscritas e inéditas, así como
en textos de autores de la época y actuales, esta obra se propone dar cuenta del
papel que jugaron en esta historia los pueblos nahuas, teenek o huastecos,
otomíes, totonacos, tepehuas y pames, muy lejos de la pasividad o la mera
receptividad que a menudo se les atribuyen. Los pueblos indios estuvieron prestos a
litigar, comprar y defender su patrimonial comunal, así como a preservar y
fortalecer su cultura, adaptándose al mismo tiempo a los embates externos,
llámense reformas borbónicas, guerra insurgente, legislación
gaditana, guerras con potencias extranjeras, desamortización, Imperio o proyecto
modernizador porfiriano.”

17. The following book will be of interest to readers: N’on nan kobijnd’ue n’an
tzjon noan = Los usos de la madera entre los amuzgos. By Modesta Cruz Hernández.
México, D.F.: Centro de Investiga-ciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social, 1993. Pp 268. ISBN 968-496 236-3 (paper). From the back

“San Pedro Amuzgos es un pueblo ubicado en el sur de Oaxaca; en él sus
habitantes han podido trabajar y emplear la madera de los àrboles de la
región para todas sus actividades, desde los enseres domésticos, hasta
los implementos de trabajo en el campo.

“Este texto, escrito en amuzgo y en español, da cuenta de 100 distintos usos
que le da esta etnia a la madera obtenida de las distintas partes de los árboles
de la región, que lo vuelve un importante documento etnográfico y
lingüístico para el conocimiento de las etnias de nuestro país.”

18. The NN received the following book from the publisher: Al pie del volcán:
Los indios de Colima en el virreinato. By Juan Carlos Reyes Garza. Historia de los
pueblos indígenas de México. México, D.F.: Centro de
Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social; Instituto Nacional
Indigenista; Secretaría de Cultura del Estado de Colima, 2000. Pp. 245. $15.00
(paper) ISBN 968-496-395-5. ISBN 968-496-259-2 (set). From the back cover:

“El secular aislamiento de Colima hace pensar que esta región, más que
estar al pie del volcán, permanecía oculta detrás de él.
Aislamiento que, ahora sabemos, nunca fue tan drástico como en el periodo que se
inicia al término del siglo de la conquista y corre hasta la
posrevolución. Cuatrocientos años de lejanía tuvieron como
consecuencia – una entre muchas – que quedara fuera de las rutas de la historia
nacional; una historia, por cierto, hecha desde el centro, por y para los mestizos. Y
si la historia del mestizo colimote fue ignorada por sus pares, ¿qué
decir de la historia de sus indios? Sin códices que hablaran de su pasado remoto
y saqueada en su arqueología; sin frailes con pioneras vocaciones de
etnógrafo, ni conquistadores afectos a la pluma; sin oro que radicara a sabios y
poderosos; carente de la evidencia de pretéritas suntuosidades, tan apreciadas
por los decimonónicos artífices de la mexicanidad, la historia de Colima
simplemente transcurrió sin registro deliberado de su acontecer, y no obstante
se guardó, involuntariamente, en su rico acervo documental, donde los indios
están en su cotidianidad, sólo que las más de las veces en segundo
o tercer plano.

“Este es un primer intento por sacarlos al frente del escenario y darles la palabra.
La historia de Colima es también la suya, por ello resulta incompleta, cuando no
inexplicable sin su presencia y participación.”

19. Here is a book sent by the publisher that will be of interest to NN readers:
Tinujei: Los triquis de Copala. 2nd ed. By Agustín García Alcaraz.
México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social, 1997. Pp. 307. ISBN 968-496-330-0 (paper). From the back

“Consciente del respeto a la diferencia, García Alcaraz se compromete con los
triquis de Copala para hacer un estudio objetivo que pone en relieve la forma de vivir
y convivir de este polémico grupo indígena del estado de Oaxaca.

“A la presente reedición se agrega una semblanza de la vida del
filósofo y antropólogo michoacano, y el prólogo escrito ex profeso
por Carlos Paredes Martínez. Aquí ‘se sintetiza el ser y el hacer de
Agustín García Alcaraz, quien fue ante todo, un hombre comprometido con
los grupos indígenas y a ellos dedicó su inteligencia, corazón y
vida entera.’

“‘Tinujei es el libro de antropología social más completo sobre los
triquis de Copala,’ virtud que lo convierte en una obra básica de consulta para
entender mejor la necesidad de todo grupo indígena del respeto a su modo de

20. The following book on the Nahuas of San Luis Potosí will be interest to
readers: Aquí nomás… aquí somos: Reproducción de la
organización comunal de Ocuilzapoyo S.L.P. By Juan Briseño Guerrero.
México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social, 1994. Pp. 232. ISBN 986-496-254-1 (paper). From the back

“El presente estudio cuenta una parte de la historia del pueblo nahua de
Ocuiltzapoyo, en la Huasteca potosina. Se pretende resaltar la visión y
concepción que los propios habitantes del lugar tienen de su vida e historia.
Para ello se utilizaron dos lineas de investigación: la historia oral y la
cotidianidad. Se conceptualiza la primera como ‘la narración de los
acontecimientos del pasado, es uno de los mecanismos más transitados por el
proceso de legitimación de las instituciones y del sistema político
comunal.’ Mientras que lo cotidiano ‘es entendido como el ordenamiento de la vida y la
ejecución diaria de una concepción propia, así como la
manifestación más directa de una cultura particular y diferente a la
nacional. La cotidianidad es un elemento constitutivo de un proyecto político
propio, no es el rutinario hacer diario de los indios.’ Conjuntando estas dos
categorías analíticas se describen, como objetivo último de la
investigación, los mecanismos de reproducción social de esta

21. The following work treats themes in Mesoamerican anthropology of enduring
interest: Madres, médicos y curanderos: Diferencia cultural e identidad
ideológica. By María Eugenia Módena. Ediciones de la casa chata,
37. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social, 1990. Pp. 229. ISBN 968-496-154-5 (paper). From the back

“¿Como se combinan las multiples instituciones y organizaciones, privadas y
públicas, que actúan en relación con la salud y la enfermedad?
Intervienen en esta combinatoria las políticas estatales, la producción
científica sobre el tema, la formación médica y paramédica,
el ejercicio profesional, la comercialización de farmacos, los curadores
populares y hasta la madre de familia que vincula y sintetiza la eficacia de las
prácticas médicas y tradicionales u otras provenientes de fuentes

“La madre de familia es el punto donde se anudan operativamente los recursos para la
salud y la enfermedad. Al mismo tiempo, su función de curadora reúne la
prescripción y normatividad médica, la aplicación particular de
esa prescripción normaltizadora y los recursos caseros tradicionales,
empíricos y/o mágico-religiosos, provenientes de diversos ámbitos
de la vida pública.

“El despliegue de las combinatorias nos lleva a estudiar las relaciones entre
autonomía, individualismo, proceso mercantil, secularización,
responsabilidad personal y familiar en la salud y la enfermedad. Las medicinas
tradicionales continúan y cambian, la medicina oficial se extiende, los nuevos
grupos religiosos se expanden, pero la lógica que articular al conjunto es la
propia del proceso de hegemonización que intenta abordar todas estas
operaciones. No lo hace en forma ‘óptima,’ sino con esos modales contradictorios
y desiguales con los que opera cuando se topa con los hechos provenientes de una
historia compleja formada por múltiples actores.”

22. Here is a recent collection on religion in Guadalajara: Creyentes y creencias en
Guadalajara. Edited by Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola. México, D.F.: Conaculta,
Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia; Centro de Investigaciones y
Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 1999. Pp. 251. (INAH) ISBN
970-18-2503-9 (paper). (CIESAS) ISBN 968-496-388-2 (paper). From the back cover:

“El noventa por ciento de los residentes en la ciudad de Guadalajara y su zona
conurbada dicen ser católicos, pero en realidad no lo son tanto. Examinar y
discutir los cambios en los valores y prácticas asociados a las religions
institucionales, así como mostrar la relación que existe entre la
modernidad y las creencias religiosas de los tapatíos al final del milenio,
constituyen los objetivos centrales de esta investigación.

“Las autoras compartían la idea de que la majoría de los habitantes de
Guadalajara se sienten, reconocen, viven y piensan como católicos, hasta antes
de aplicar la ‘Encuestra sobre la diversidad religiosa en Guadalajara,’ material que se
analiza en este libro. Aunque desde diversas perspectivas todavía se puede
clasificar esta ciudad como tradicional y conservadora, el presente análisis
revela un panorama más dinámico y heterogéneo acerca de los
creyentes y sus creencias.

“Los lectores encontrarán en esta obra información relevante sobre la
adscripción confesional; la importancia de los rituales para los creyentes; el
imaginario social del concepto de Dios y la trascendencia; el tipo de
explicación que evocan los fieles ante el éxito o el fracaso en la vida;
la conveniencia o inconveniencia de la formación religiosa para sus hijos; el
grado de influencia de las normas religiosas en la moral sexual y la actitud frente a
las diferencias religiosa, sexual, étnica y de clase.”


“Introducción,” Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola

“El campo religioso de Guadalajara: Tendencias y permanencias,” Renée de la
Torre Castellanos, Alma Dorantes González, Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola, y
Cristina Gutiérrez Zúñiga

“Sexo, edad, esculela y religión,” Alma Dorantes González

“El catolicismo: ¿Un templo en el que habitan muchos dioses?”, Renée de
la Torre Castellanos

“Heterogeneidades religiosas: Las salidas de la institución,” Cristina
Gutiérrez Zúñiga

“Cédula de la encuesta”

“Tablas de los resultados según variables de control,” Cintia Castro y David

“Bibliografía general”

23. This book treats the topics of race and class in North America: After the Fifth
Sun: Class and Race in North America. By James W. Russell. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:
Prentice Hall, 1994. Pp. 254. ISBN 0-13-036237-9 (paper). From the back cover:

“Race first became an issue in the class structuring of North American societies in
1521 when Tenochtitlán, the capital city of the Aztecs, fell to Spanish
invaders. For the first time conquerors and conquered were racially different. After
the end of the Aztec era – the fifth sun in Aztec thought – Spanish and later European
colonizers built new societies in which they occupied the dominant class positions and
forced Indians, Africans, and Asians into subordinate positions. The close association
of class and race in North America thus began during the colonial past, but it
developed in different ways in the areas that would become the United States, Mexico,
and Canada.

“In this far-reaching study, James W. Russell comparatively explores how patterns of
class and racial inequality developed in the United States, Mexico, and Canada from the
colonial pasts to the present. What is revealed is a continent of diverse historical
experiences, class systems, and ways of thinking about race.”

Topics include:

The Ending of the Fifth Sun

Class, Race, and Colonial Reconstruction

Three Societies, Two Worlds of Development

Contemporary Classes

Race and Pigmentocracy

Euro-North Americans

Indians after the Fifth Sun

Afro-North Americans

Original and New Asian Communities

The Fifth Race

The New North-American Division of Labor

24. CIESAS also sends the following book to the NN: Anónimos y desterrados:
La contienda por el “sitio que llaman de Quauyla,” siglos XVI-XVIII. By Cecilia
Sheridan. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Antropología Social; Miguel Ángel Porrúa Grupo Editorial, 2000.
Pp. 389. $25.00 (paper) ISBN 970-701-084-3. From the back cover:

“En este libro se examina el proceso de transformación de la territorialidad
nómada del noreste en una territorialidad española, a partir del
análisis de la ocupación y formación de una provincia colonial:
Coahuila o Nueva Extremadura. Dicho proceso es analizado a la luz de la trayectoria de
la conquista española del espacio, sustentada en una miscelánea de formas
fractales que se compendian en el esquema: guerra-pacificación-exterminio. Con
este trabajo se busca contribuir al esclarecimiento de los procesos sociales que dieron
paso a la formación de una provincia española en un contexto de
ocupación particular que permita una reflexión en torno a nuevas
problemáticas que están todavía por investigar y profundizar.”

25. And from the University of Texas Press: Zapotec Science: Farming Food in the
Northern Sierra of Oaxaca. By Roberto J. Gonzalez. Austin: University of Texas Press,
2001. Pp. 328. $50.00 (cloth). ISBN 0-292-72831-X. $24.95 (paper). ISBN 0-292-72832-8.
From the back cover:

“Zapotec farmers in the northern sierra of Oaxaca, Mexico, are highly successful in
providing their families with abundant, nutritious food in an ecologically sustainable
fashion, although the premises that guide their agricultural practices would be
considered erroneous by the standards of most agronomists and botanists in the United
States and Europe. In this book, Roberto González convincingly argues that in
fact Zapotec agricultural and dietary theories and practices constitute a valid local
science, which has had a reciprocally beneficial relationship with European and United
States farming and food systems since the sixteenth century.

“Gonzalez bases his analysis upon direct participant observation in the farms and
fields of a Zapotec village. By using the ethnographic fieldwork approach, he is able
to describe and analyze the rich meanings that campesino families attach to their
crops, lands, and animals. González also reviews the history of maize,
sugarcane, and coffee cultivation in the Zapotec region to show how campesino farmers
have intelligently and scientifically adapted their farming practices to local
conditions over the course of centuries. By setting his ethnographic study of the Talea
de Castro community within a historical world systems perspective, he also skillfully
weighs the local impact of national and global currents ranging from Spanish
colonialism to the 1910 Mexican Revolution to NAFTA. At the same time, he shows how, at
the turn of the twenty-first century, the sustainable practices of “traditional”
subsistence agriculture are beginning to replace the failed, unsustainable techniques
of modern industrial farming in some parts of the United States and Europe.”

26. The editors send the NN a copy of their new book entitled Cosmovisión,
ritual e identidad de los pueblos indígenas de México. Edited by Johanna
Broda and Félix Báez-Jorge. Biblioteca mexicana. México, D.F.:
Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes; Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001.
Pp. 539. ISBN 968-16-6178-8 (paper). From the back cover:

“Este volumen reúne nueve estudios sobre etnografía de los pueblos
indígenas de México. Los autores, especialistas internacionalmente
reconocidos, presentan materiales de campo inéditos y esquemas interpretativos
novedosos. Todos los ensayos que componen el libro han sido redactodos
específicamente para integrar el presente volumen.

“Esta obra constituye una aportación para la discusión teórica
sobre la religiosidad popular en la historia de México. Además del
esfuerzo teórico, el libro propone una reivindicación de la
etnografía como parte fundamental del quehacer antropológico. Se
investigan temas de la cosmovisión y del ritual y su incidencia sobre los
procesos de la reproducción cultural de las comunidades estudiadas. Los
capítulos del volumen – aunque no abarcan ejemplos de todos los grupos
étnicos del país – demuestran la enorme riqueza cultural que existe en
México y que lo hace un país de una gran diversidad basada en antiguas

“Este libro académico también va dirigido a un público
más amplio. Sus textos evidencian la asombrosa capacidad creativa de las
culturas indígenas herederas de las civilizaciones prehispánicas,
culturas que se apropiaron de elemetos impuestos durante su experiencia
histórica como pueblos conquistados para crear las cosmovisiones ricas y
diversas que mantienen en la actualidad y que llegan a expresarse en una ritualidad

27. Of interest to Nahua ethnohistorians will be Vidas y bienes olvidados:
Testamentos indígenas novohispanos. Edited by Teresa Rojas Rabiela, Elsa Leticia
Rea López, y Constantino Medina Lima. Testamentos en náhuatl y castellano
del siglo XVII, Vol. 3. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios
Superiores en Antropología Social; Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y
Technología, 2000. Pp. 550. $22.00 (paper) ISBN 968-496-372-6. ISBN
968-496-369-6 (set). Contributors include Guadalupe García Quintana, Magdalena
A. García Sánchez, Elia Rocío Hernández, Ma. Elena Maruri,
Enrique Nieto Estrada, Mercedes Ortega, and Zazil Sandoval. From the back cover:

“Vidas y bienes olvidados es una serie dirigida por Teresa Rojas Rabiela,
investigadora del CIESAS, producto de cerca de una década de
investigación, que ahora ve la luz gracias al apoyo del Conacyt [Consejo
Nacional de Ciencia y Technología].

“En este tercer volumen se publican 50 testamentos en lengua náhuatl dictados
en el siglo XVII por 20 indígenas nobles y 30 macehuales. La totalidad de estos
extraordinarios documentos proceden del Archivo General de la Nación, de los
ramos de Tierras (39), Civil (6), Vínculos y Mayorazgos (2), Hospital de
Jesús (1), Intestados (1), y Templos y Conventos (1).

“Los testamentos que los indígenas dictaron desde fechas tempranas, poseen
una amplia gama de facetas de interés para conocer lo mismo la naturaleza y las
relaciones familiares y sociales, que sus condiciones materiales, la economía y
la religiosidad. Son de utilidad para el quehacer de antropólogos,
lingüistas, historiadores y demás especialistas en las disciplinas sociales
que indagan el pasado de los pueblos indígenas de México.”

Los primeros títulos de la serie son:

1. Testamentos en castellano del siglo XVI y en náhuatl y castellano de
Ocotelulco de los siglos XVI y XVII

2. Testamentos en náhuatl y castellano del siglo XVI

3. Testamentos en náhuatl y castellano del siglo XVII

4. Testamentos en castellano del siglo XVII

5. Índice de los testamentos de indígenas en el Archivo General de la

6. Estudios

28. Finally, CIESAS has sent to the NN four small monographs on fishing practices in
Mexico, part of the series “Cuadernos de la casa chata.” The books are part of a larger
collection called “Los pescadores de México,” edited by Luis María

Chenault, Victoria. Los pescadores de Baja California (costa del Pacífico y
Mar de Cortés). Cuadernos de la casa chata, 111. México, D.F.: Centro de
Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Anthropología Social, 1985. Pp. 180.
ISBN 968-496-062-X.

Díaz, Marcial, Galindo Iturbide, e Imelda García, Los pescadores de la
costa norte de Chiapas (pp. 1-101); y Ma. de los Angeles Ortiz Hernández, Los
pescadores de la Isla la Palma en Acapetahua, Chiapas: Estructura de poder en la
S.C.P.P. de ribera La Palma (pp. 105-59). Cuadernos de la casa chata, 115.
México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Anthropología Social, 1984. Pp. 159. ISBN 968-496-066-2.

Díaz, Marcial, Los pescadores de Nayarit (pp. 1-149); y Galindo Iturbide, Los
pescadores de Sinaloa (pp. 151-205). Cuadernos de la casa chata, 120. México,
D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Anthropología Social,
1985. Pp. 205. ISBN 968 496-075-1.

Chenault, Victoria. Los pescadores de la península yucatán. Cuadernos
de la casa chata, 121. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios
Superiores en Anthropología Social, 1985. Pp. 175. ISBN 968-496-077-8.

Book Reviews

López Austin, Alfredo. 1997. Tamoanchan, Tlalocan: Places of Mist. Niwot, Colo.: University Press of Colorado. $39.00 (cloth). ISBN 0870814451.

This book is important reading for anyone interested in contemporary as well as
ancient Mesoamerican culture, and I especially recommended it to those who care about
gender. López Austin’s ostensible aim is to disentangle the concepts of
Tamoanchan and Tlalocan, but he offers his readers much more by presenting a
comprehensive synthesis of Nahua culture based on his theory of gender opposition and
the circulation of divine essences. Tamoanchan and Tlalocan require clarification for a
number of reasons. Tamoanchan is a mythical as well as historical place located
variously near the Moon on the top of a high mountain, among the volcanoes surrounding
the Valley of Mexico, and in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Tlalocan is the
destination of those who died a water-related death, and scholars have offered many
interpretations of its relationship to Tamoanchan. Some say the two are essentially the
same, while others contend they are different.

Into this confusion steps López Austin who has already produced a monumental
work on the human body (1988[1980]) and an encyclopedic reading of Mesoamerican
mythology (1993[1990]). He aims to sort out the confusion by re-examining the ancient
sources and by drawing inferences from ethnographic descriptions of contemporary
cultures in regions of Mexico he considers “little influenced by Christian thought” (p.
125). Those cultures are the Nahua, Otomí, Tepehua and Totonac of the Sierra
Norte de Puebla as well as the Tzotzil of highland Chiapas, and the Huichol of Nayarit,
Zacatecas, and Durango. I shall summarize what he learned from examining the ancient
sources and then discuss what he inferred from contemporary ethnographies.

López Austin begins his tour through the ancient sources with a close
examination of one of Sahagún’s documents that he also includes in his appendix.
Sahagún’s informant told how several human groups, led by their god, landed on a
northern coast and worked their way to a place they called Tamoanchan. Their god left
them, headed east, and promised to return when the world neared its end. Several of the
groups – the Toltec, Chichimec, Michhuaque, Tepanec, Acolhuaque, Chalca, Huexotzinca,
Tlaxcalteca, and the Mexica – left the earthly Tamoanchan and migrated to Chicomoztoc
(“Seven Caves”) where they spoke different languages and had distinct ethnicities. The
Mexica, of course, eventually left Chicomoztoc and established the city of
Mexico-Tenochtitlán. López Austin offers an interesting and plausible
interpretation of the rhetorical strategy used by this informant. The mention of
patterns of migration under the direction of a god was a way to establish the Mexica’s
divine right to their territory now threatened by their Spanish conquerors. The
description of Tamoanchan as a historical rather than mythical place underemphasized
Aztec religion, which would have provoked the Spaniards’ disapproval.

Other sources do describe Tamoanchan as a mythical place, and among them is the
Códice Telleriano-Remensis that tells of the gods cutting flowers and branches
from a tree, resulting in their expulsion. The offending gods are the feminine
Ixnextli, Itzpapalotl, Ixcuina, and Xochiquetzal and the masculine Huehuecoyotl. Their
expulsion initiated the creation of the material world of humans, animals, and plants
that have parallel cycles of reproduction. López Austin interprets the cutting
of flowers and branches as a “sinful act” that initiated the “joining of two contrary
cosmic forces”: the hot, celestial and masculine; the cold, underworld, and feminine.
The use of the term “sinful” is misleading and may be an artifact of Bernard R. Ortiz
de Montellano and Thelma Ortiz de Montellano’s usually able translation. As Louise
Burkhart (1989) demonstrated, the friars introduced the concept of sin to the Nahuas,
whose moral concepts rested on beliefs very different from those found in European
Christianity. The friars regarded sexuality, especially that associated with women, as
a principal source of sin. The use of the word “sin” is misleading for the ancient
sources because sexual sin is loaded with connotations about female sexuality that may
not have been part of the pre-Hispanic culture (see Klein 2001). Nevertheless,
López Austin insightfully points out that the gods’ act marked the beginning of
human time when divine essences became enclosed in material surfaces that deteriorated
in the sun.

López Austin rests part of his case on his translation of key Nahuatl terms
and phrases, some of which are very ambiguous. The meaning of the word “Tamoanchan”
itself is unclear. Sahagún thought it was a combination of tictemoa tochan = “we
seek our home.” But a different phrase – “Tamoanchan, quitoznequi temooa tocha[n]” –
appears in the text of Sahagún’s informant mentioned earlier, and López
Austin translated it thus: “Tamoanchan means to descend to our home” (p. 102). The two
phrases appear to have verbs that sound almost alike but have different stresses and
meanings: temoa, “to look for” vs. temohua, the nonactive form of “to descend.”
(Karttunen 1983:223).

The ancient documents located Tamoanchan in the ninth level of space above the earth
known as “Chicnauhnepaniuhcan,” a word that also has an ambiguous meaning. There is
confusion over the meaning of the infix nepan, which López Austin believes came
from nepanoa, which he translates as “to throw one thing on top of another” (p. 107).
However, Karttunen (1983:169) defines nepanoa as “to intersect, or unite.” She also
glosses nepan as “an element of a compound conveying a sense of mutuality or
reciprocity” (Karttunen 1983:169). Her definitions support Michel Graulich’s
(1997[1970]) interpretation of Tamoanchan as a place where there once existed a
harmonious union of opposites.

At issue are gender relations because the opposites have male and female
characteristics. López Austin’s interpretation of Chicnauhnepaniuhcan is a
subtle example of his finding gender opposition throughout the ancient as well as
contemporary sources. More conspicuous is his frequent mention of sexual sin in his
reading of the contemporary ethnographies he uses to fill the gaps in the fragmentary
and ambiguous ancient record. The term “sin” is perhaps more justifiable for
contemporary Mesoamericans, although it belies the claim that the present-day groups
López Austin has chosen for clarifying the concepts of Tamoanchan and Tlalocan
are “little influenced by Christian thought” (p. 125).

López Austin interprets the ethnographic sources as depicting a cosmological
model with marked opposition between feminine death, cold, water, and the rainy season,
and masculine life, heat, fire, and the dry season. Wet, cold, dark, nocturnal, and
terrestrial female beings control the growth and reproduction of humans, animals, and
plants. Among them are the feminine earth and the rain deities, some of which turn into
serpents and appear as lightning, thunder, wind, rain, clouds, and masses of water.
These beings dwell inside a great mountain that contains enormous agricultural wealth,
animals, minerals, currents of water, and energy, and some Nahua call the great
mountain “Tlalocan.” Feminine and masculine beings have a cyclical pattern of dominance
correlated with the seasons. During the rainy season, the dominant forces are cold, wet
and feminine, and during the dry season they are hot, dry, fiery, solar, and masculine.
In the human life cycle, a baby is filled with feminine cold, dirt, sex, sin, and death
that require ritual cleansing. As children grow into adults and carry out
responsibilities, they acquire masculine heat. The human life cycle is characterized by
acquiring an essence known as heart (yollo) from the mythical storehouse of Tlalocan.
Yollo remains in the body until death when it returns to Tlalocan, and López
Austin notes that the hearts of humans and maize recycle in similar fashion.
López Austin contends that the life cycle of the maize plant is paradigmatic for
the Nahuas, although the circulation of divine essences resembles the flow of blood
through the human body. Curiously missing is a discussion of eztli (“blood”), which
Alan Sandstrom (1991) so ably demonstrated links the Nahuatl to their milpas.

On the basis of what he learned from reading contemporary ethnographies,
López Austin concludes that: “Tamoanchan and Tlalocan, misty places, are
fundamental parts of a cosmic process of circulation of the divine forces that are
necessary for the movement and continuity of beings in the world of humans” (p. 267).
Contemporary Nahuas regard cold, wet Tlalocan as the realm of death that also produces
life. The process of recycling divine essences involves the payment of debts and the
purification of sin acquired through sex by which one loads up on tlalticpaccayotl
(“earthly things”). Restitution, however, was not a punishment but a mechanical
cleansing of any traces of a human’s personality. In support, he notes that another
name for Mictlan, the Land of the Dead, is “Ximoyan” and “xima means to smooth” (p.

As well as clarifying the concepts of Tamoanchan and Tlalocan, this book also
performs a valuable service by correcting the impression that ethnography of
contemporary Nahuas has little to offer those interested in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican
culture. A generation of scholars has shied away from learning Nahua languages and
making meticulous ethnographic observations that might have helped López Austin
draw even more useful conclusions about the Nahuas. I blame Oscar Lewis who popularized
the false impression that present day Nahuas not only live in the culture of poverty
but also have poverty of culture. As López Austin so clearly demonstrates, the
contemporary Nahuas, and many other groups in Mesoamerica, have a rich culture that is
well worth the trouble to study, particularly in the indigenous languages.

In joining ethnography with the ancient sources, this synthesis of Nahua culture is
bound to raise some questions. López Austin’s book is what Geertz (1973:15)
calls a fourth-order interpretation. It is a reading of selected anthropological works
which themselves are interpretations of informants, subjects, friends, or consultants’
explanations of their own utterances and rituals that are the foundation of
ethnography. In his earlier work on mythology, López Austin (1993[1990])
explained more fully just how he goes about building his models. Writing about myth, he
described how he made a distinction between mythic belief and narration. Mythic belief
is the scholar’s construction and mythic narration is the actual words of the informant
which may be in error and incomplete. López Austin constructs mythic belief by
reading widely about ancient Mesoamerican culture and locating survivals in the modern
ethnographic record.

As an ethnographer, fourth-order interpretations like this one strike me as distant
from the words and behavior of informants. If judged by a model, informants’ words may
appear to be in error, incomplete, of even lacking in interest because they do not
contain evidence of survivals. However, there are reasons for Mesoamericans’ variable
presentations of culture. One is the informant’s social location, an important variable
for understanding gender symbolism. Men and women present different models “of and for
reality,” to borrow a phrase from Geertz (1973:93 96), according to their position in
the social structure. Knowledge of their polysemy and multivocality is essential for
creating more powerful models from ethnography to interpret the fragmentary and
enigmatic historical record. I have the impression that most of the contemporary
informants and the authors of the ancient documents are men who presented their culture
in a particular way. Knowing more about variable expressions of contemporary culture
will enable scholars to offer more socially informed interpretations of ancient myth,
rituals, and expressions of belief. López Austin is at his best when taking
social location into consideration as when he interpreted a migration narrative by one
of Sahagún’s informants. I enthusiastically recommend López Austin’s fine
book to all readers of the Nahua Newsletter.

References Cited

Burkhart, Louise. 1989. The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in
Sixteenth Century Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Graulich, Michel. 1990[1997]. Myths of Ancient Mexico. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press.

Karttunen, Frances. 1983. An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl. Austin: University of
Texas Press.

Klein, Cecilia. 2001. “Gender Studies.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican
Cultures, vol. 1. Davíd Carrasco, ed., pp. 435-38. Oxford: Oxford University

López Austin, Alfredo. 1980[1988]. The Human Body and Ideology: Concepts of
the Ancient Nahuas. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

__________. 1990[1993]. The Myths of the Opossum: Pathways of Mesoamerican
Mythology. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Sandstrom, Alan R. 1991. Corn is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a
Contemporary Aztec Indian Village. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

James M. Taggart
Franklin and Marshall College

Empire of Sand: The Seri Indians and the Struggle for Spanish Sonora, 1645-1803. By Thomas E. Sheridan. Tucson: The
University of Arizona Press, 1999. Pp. 493. $65.00 (cloth). ISBN 0816518580.

This book exemplifies sound scholarship and should be of interest to a diverse
audience because the breadth of its research stretches across many academic arenas,
e.g., ethnohistory, ethnobotany, social history, and geography. As the title notes,
Sheridan’s work concentrates on the interethnic division between the Seris of Sonora,
Mexico, and the array of Spaniards within their territory. His primary focus is on the
interactions through time between the indigenous inhabitants and Spanish missionaries,
settlers, and government branches, particularly the military component. However his
presentation is somewhat unique. He gives the reader an overview of the region,
detailing what is known of the Seris who were divided into at least three groups. He
also discusses the inhospitable terrain, the oft-times unsuccessful attempts by the
Spaniards at mining, the futility of missionization, the struggle of the military to
subdue the Seris, and the ebb and flow of indigenous resistance. Sheridan then presents
the reader with the primary documents, first in English translation and heavily
footnoted, and then in contemporary Spanish.

Many of the documents have never been published before, while others have been
brought to light from scattered publications. The documents are presented in a context
that demonstrates the early contact between Seris and Jesuit missionaries, the
contentious attempts at missionization, the eventual upheaval of the mission system,
and the continued hostilities between the two groups. Sheridan’s presentation from the
mid-1600s to the early 1800s shows the progression of Spanish interest in the spiritual
enlightenment of the Seris, from missionization through their outright militaristic
attempts for a final solution, i.e., ethnocide. It was the Seris’ knowledge of their
environment, which the Spaniards viewed as hostile and nearly uninhabitable, coupled
with their focus on small groups, that allowed them to resist both missionization and
pacification. Sheridan clearly highlights the fluidity of Seri society and the staunch
loyalty of the Seri to their homeland and their ethnicity.

The numerous documents propel the reader into the research project itself as
Sheridan does not attempt to highlight every detail within each document, but leaves
much for interested readers to cull for themselves. This approach is certainly one of
the extraordinary features of presenting a series of original documents through time in
their entirety. Sheridan does not over interpret the data or attempt to mine the
primary sources for every nugget, but leaves much for others to sift through. This
alone should make his work of great interest both to teachers and students. The
presentation provides readers with the opportunity to glean data on a variety of
topics, including food and water sources, family units, sociopolitical alliances, intra
ethnic divisions, as well as mobilizations. However, Sheridan does caution the reader
that the documents need to be viewed as European or Euro-American accounts and do not
reflect Seri society to any great extent. This is especially apt as only one Jesuit
missionary, Nicolas Perera, spoke the Seri language and he wrote sparingly about

The volume is divided into five chapters, each with a concise introduction by
Sheridan. His chapter-by-chapter overview adds clarity for the reader and was a
constant reference source when the content of the documents became more complex.
Sheridan has given us an exemplary work on a previously little-known region of northern
Mexico. This work will become the benchmark for others to replicate throughout other
regions of the New World. The scholarship here is commendable and the book will become
a valuable reference guide, as well as a welcome addition to the classroom.

Richard Bradley
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru. Edited by Elizabeth P. Benson and Anita G. Cook. Austin: University of Texas Press,
2001. Pp. xii+211. ISBN 0-292-70894-7 (paper).

As evidenced by a number of spectacular finds (Reinhard 1996, 1999) and recent
popular treatments of the subject (Tierney 1989), the role of sacrifice and sacrificial
offerings are of interest to scholars working with both contemporary and pre-Columbian
societies. The frequency, role in ritual, and meaning of pre-Columbian sacrificial acts
are all topics addressed in Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru. In the words of the
editors of this book, “understanding sacrifice is an important means of knowing a
culture, its worldview, and its religion” (p. ix) and this volume “should serve as a
compilation of significant research on sacrifice and related practices” (p. x).
Chapters within this edited volume, which represents a collection of papers presented
at a Pre Columbian Society of Washington symposium on human sacrifice in Peru, examine
the topic from a variety of sources, including analysis of sacrificial imagery,
archaeological evidence, ethnographic analogy, and the analysis of human remains.

Unlike in Mesoamerica, the lack of written documentation for pre-Columbian Peruvian
societies presents a number of methodological challenges for those hoping to infer the
meaning, role, and frequency of human sacrifice from archaeological contexts.
Contributors to this volume meet these challenges with varying degrees of success.
Mesoamericanists will be particularly interested in possible extra-regional influences
on Moche sacrificial practices, the role of the Moche Moon Priestess discussed in
Chapter 3, the striking parallels among the Moche sacrificial victims from Huaca de la
Luna (Pyramid of the Moon) Plaza 3A, discussed by Steve Bourget in Chapter 5 and John
Verano in Chapter 8, and the “flowery wars” chronicled for the Aztecs in Mesoamerica
(Townsend 1992:200). Each contribution within the volume is unique in its approach to
human sacrifice. In this respect, nearly all chapters make significant methodological
contributions to the study of human sacrifice and offerings for interpreting and
understanding both physical and representational evidence.

Elizabeth Benson’s opening chapter of the book entitled “Why Sacrifice?” is perhaps
the most disappointing contribution to the volume. Benson introduces sacrifice as a
general concept, then proceeds to discuss the antiquity of human sacrifice, warfare,
ritual decapitation, animal sacrifice, and natural events. In an introductory section,
Benson cites a key statement by bioarchaeologist John Verano, in which he distinguishes
among “human sacrifice, dedicatory burials, secondary offerings of human remains, and
the collection and curation of human body parts” (Verano 1995:189). These are important
distinctions, both qualitatively and conceptually, that can often be discerned using
physical evidence, but Benson fails to elaborate on these distinctions nor does she use
them to guide her discussion of human sacrifice.

“Ritual Decapitation” is another disappointing section that Benson begins by stating
“decapitation was the common form of sacrifice in the Andes” (p. 5). I would expect
that such an assertive statement would require either some form of citation or
discussion of physical evidence. She also goes on to discuss natural phenomena and the
environment and how they might be related to ancient Peruvians’ perceptions of human
sacrifice. It is important to make explicit these relationships rather than listing
unpredictable events and simply stating that sacrifice is somehow related to these
events. Benson cites ethnographic works, but then fails to make use of the wealth of
information they might provide for understanding ancient Peruvians’ worldview and how
offerings (inanimate, animal, and human) and human sacrifice (the ultimate offering)
may have been perceived by ancient Peruvians. With respect to anthropomorphized Moche
sacrificers discussed within this section, Benson states “Some scholars describe the
sacrificers as masked humans. Actual sacrificers probably wore masks (like hangmen or
beheaders in our culture, not too long ago), but I believe that the art generally
depicts a mythic, supernatural realm” (p. 14). Given the discovery of the actual Moche
entities displayed in “Sacrificial Theme,” such as the tomb of the Lord of Sipan (Alva
and Donnan 1993), and the remains of the Priestess at San Jose de Moro (Donnan and
Castillo 1992) – works cited and discussed by the other contributors – it makes me
wonder just how familiar she is with the literature she is trying to summarize.

Benson’s chapter misses the opportunity to provide a general framework or
operational definitions that would have greatly strengthened this volume. Instead,
there are a number of implicitly related topics that are either underdeveloped or
superficially discussed.

Chapter 2, entitled “Decapitation in Cupisnique and Early Moche Societies” is an
interesting diachronic discussion by Alana Cordy-Collins of imagery and physical
evidence for decapitation among two early complex societies that occupied the north
coast of Peru. Cordy-Collins explains that Cupisnique (ca. 1500-1 B.C.) imagery
represents some of the earliest depictions of decapitation and sacrifice in the New
World. She states that “a study of their art reveals five distinct supernatural
head-takers: a spider, a bird of prey, a monster, a fish, and a human” (p. 21). She
then proceeds to present a strong case for an extended period of religious continuity
between the Cupisnique and Moche (ca. A.D. 300-800) and asks the question as to why
these pre Columbian north coast societies chose to depict a number – albeit limited –
of different decapitators. Cordy-Collins considers a number of possible explanations
for the variety of decapitators using both iconographic and physical evidence.

Cordy-Collins explains that during the Moche period, the number of decapitators
expands to seven. The imagery from Moche friezes and well-provenienced ceramics
suggests a spatial distribution of decapitators during Moche times and may indicate
that the “Moche decapitators were patrons of specific valleys, settlements, or groups”
(p. 25). This is an intriguing proposition that Cordy-Collins substantiates by
reviewing the archaeological record for the region. In her discussion, Cordy-Collins
informs us that at any given site only one of the seven different decapitators is
found, some decapitators are found a multiple sites, and that imagery exists of
different decapitators doing battle with one another. She proceeds to discuss the
archaeological evidence from the Moche Dos Cabezas where eighteen severed heads were
discovered. Many of the skulls still had some of the vertebral vertebrae attached and
displayed cut marks on the anterior bodies of the vertebrae. In an adjacent area, an
apparent decapitator was discovered buried with a functional sacrificial copper knife
(tumi) in his hand. While the associated offerings with this individual do not indicate
whether or not he represents the Fish Decapitator, the spectacular finds at Dos Cabezas
suggest that Moche iconography is illustrating something more than mythical depictions
of decapitation and human sacrifice.

The third chapter entitled “Blood and the Moon Priestess: Spondylus Shells in Moche
Ceremony,” also written by Alana Cordy-Collins, will be of particular interest to
Mesoamericanists as the author explicitly considers possible extra-regional influences
in both the imagery and artifactual evidence in the north coast during the terminal and
immediate post-Moche period (ca. A.D. 650-800). She asks “did the Maya, with their
long-standing sacrifice of royal prisoners, introduce the Sacrificial Ceremony to the
Moche?” (p. 47). While the question is far from resolved within the chapter,
Cordy-Collins discusses some provocative evidence that suggests a more than casual
relationship between the Moche Priestess and Mayan Moon Goddess.

Cordy-Collins convincingly establishes a relationship among the Moche Priestess,
spondylus shells, and the Sacrificial Ceremony depicted in Moche art. She explains that
both women and spondylus shells are rarely depicted in Moche imagery, but when they
are, they tend to co-occur. The priestess is depicted with a conspicuous stemless cup
in the Moche Sacrificial Ceremony and is also often portrayed with a weight associated
with diving for spondylus shells. Further, Cordy-Collins contends, the crescent-shaped
boats with radiating spikes or rays in which the priestess is depicted in the Type 3
Tule Boat Ceremony may represent either a spondylus shell or the moon. There are also
clear associations in Moche imagery and artifacts of the moon, silver, and women.

Based upon these difficult-to-interpret associations, Cordy-Collins claims that,
following the decline of the Moche sometime after AD 700, the appearance of new
practices and items in the archaeological record of the Peruvian north coast – such as
the Peruvian hairless-dog, a new style of loincloth known to have also been used in
Mesoamerica, and a new source for symmetrical (as opposed to previously used
unsymmetrical) spondylus shells – imply a Mesoamerican source for these changes. In
support of her proposition, Cordy-Collins cites depictions at Bonampak of Maya Moon
Goddesses collecting blood in spondylus shells. The inference is that these associated
changes in the archaeological record of the Peruvian north coast may reflect a direct
or indirect influence on Moche bloodletting rituals and iconography.

Although the argument is provocative, the evidence for extra-regional influences is
largely anecdotal. However, Cordy-Collins’ line of inquiry has revealed a number of
parallels that require further investigation.

Chapter 4, “Blood, Fertility, and Transformation: Interwoven Themes in the Paracas
Necropolis Embroideries” is an excellent methodological contribution that illustrates
how imagery, when meticulously investigated by an expert iconographer, can provide
important information about sacrifice and ceremonial activities of temporally distant
preliterate societies. Mary Frame’s insightful analysis of Paracas embroidered textiles
elucidates recurring themes of “blood, fertility, and transformations” (p. 56). Frame
uncovered these themes by examining the co-occurrence of specific themes and characters
depicted among different bundles of Paracas embroidered textiles. While some of the
themes, such as fertility, are fairly unambiguously depicted using sprouting plants,
other more cryptic themes, such as transformation, are inferred by the association of
subtle variations in recognizable characters and the size of textiles from the same
mummy-bundle on which these characters are depicted. (Paracas mummy bundles, or fardos,
are often wrapped in multiple layers of textiles. Some of the Paracas embroidered
bundles are simply bundles of textiles and lack human remains.)

Frame explains that autosacrifice and bloodletting is a recurring theme in the
Paracas embroidered textiles. She makes a compelling case for the association of
natural death and autosacrifice: through the death and burial of ancestors, the earth
is made fertile again; by dying, one sacrifices one’s self and returns to the earth; in
turn, the earth’s fertility is maintained. The imagery is unambiguous: dead individuals
(obvious, due to exposed ribs and other characteristics) are often seen performing
autosacrifice and bloodletting, and plants are depicted growing from the dead.
Transformation of the dead to other forms (sharks, cats, etc.) becomes apparent when
the embroidered textiles from the same mummy-bundle are considered. Here, recently dead
ancestors appear in different stages of transformation to other beings and animals
among subsequent textiles. Once again, Frame makes a strong case and provides a novel
interpretation of the meaning of Paracas imagery.

Steve Bourget, author of Chapter 5 entitled “Children and Ancestors: Ritual
Practices at the Moche Site of Huaca de la Luna, North Coast of Peru,” attempts to
interpret the meaning of three child burials he and his team excavated within Plaza 3A
at Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon). In the opening pages of his chapter, Bourget
develops the context for his interpretations of the anomalous child burials by
reviewing the unequivocal physical evidence for human sacrifice from Plaza 3A, an
enclosure at one of the principal pyramids of the Moche where he uncovered adult males
who displayed clear ontological evidence for traumatic deaths (Bourget 1997a, 1997b;
also discussed in Chapter 8). Bourget argues that the anomalous child burials, which
are located in levels below the adult male sacrificial victims, are related to the
sacrificial activities at Plaza 3A. Two of the three child burials are missing their
skulls, yet have their cervical vertebrae in anatomical position, and one of the
headless burials has ceramic whistles in each of its hands. While Bourget acknowledges
that this may indicate post-mortem disturbance, he suggests, instead, that the skulls
may have been removed during decapitation. He also acknowledges that Plaza 3A was
constructed upon an earlier Moche cemetery, but suggests that given the three child
burials’ close proximity to the northeast wall of the plaza, they could not have been
there prior to its construction, otherwise they most certainly would have been
disturbed. He then suggests the children represent an offering to sanctify the plaza in
preparation for subsequent sacrificial events.

The remainder of Bourget’s contribution is directed towards establishing
iconographic links between children, whistles, and mythical decapitators; decapitators
and sacrifice; ritual hunting, warfare, and the sacrifice of captives; and, finally,
whistling and sacrifice. By discussing some widely accepted interpretations of Moche
iconography dealing with each of the topics, Bourget ties these iconographic themes
together to come up with the suggestion that the three child burials from Plaza 3A are
somehow related to the subsequent sacrificial events. He admits that these links
require further investigation. And it must be pointed out that, while the
interpretations for each of the iconographic themes are widely accepted, nobody has
strung them together in such a novel way.

Novel as Bourget’s interpretation may be, it is like a house of cards in that if one
of the cards falls, so falls the house – or in this case, the logic of his
interpretations. Those unfamiliar with Bourget may not realize that his intuitions
regarding Moche iconography have led him to some of the most spectacular evidence for
Moche sacrifice (Bourget 1994, 1997a, 1997b), but in this case, if his interpretations
are right, they are right for the wrong reasons. As discussed subsequently in Verano’s
contribution to the volume, the lack of the skulls, presence of the vertebral
vertebrae, and lack of cut marks on those vertebrae almost certainly indicates that the
three child burials were not decapitated. Indeed, the presence of the vertebral
vertebrae and absence of two of the three children’s skulls likely indicates that the
skulls were removed long after the soft tissue had decomposed. Rather than
decapitation, the lack of skulls likely indicates these skulls were gathered for
secondary burial or their subsequent use in ceremonial display or activities. With this
in mind, it makes it more likely that the three child burials were indeed disturbed
during construction of Plaza 3A. This interpretation represents the most parsimonious
explanation for the context.

The presence of the whistles in one of the three children’s hands almost certainly
has some sort of spiritual meaning to it, but exactly what that meaning is – given that
the headless child may not have been decapitated after all – is equivocal. Perhaps the
links that Bourget perceives among the iconographic scenes will withstand further
investigation. I would not want to suggest otherwise given his uncanny ability to
accurately interpret Moche imagery. But the primary evidence on which he largely bases
his argument does not withstand thorough scrutiny.

As the title implies, Chapter 6, “Ritual Uses of Trophy Heads in Ancient Nasca
Society” by Donald A. Proulx, examines both the physical evidence and imagery to argue
that Nasca (100 B.C.-A.D. 700) trophy heads resulted from head hunting associated with
warfare, and that these elaborate trophy heads were used in ritual and ceremonial
activities that extend beyond conflict. Proulx explains that while imagery of
decapitation and trophy heads is widespread throughout the Andes, this south coast
culture is the only known to have so elaborately prepared trophy heads. He provides a
detailed description of Nasca trophy head preparation. Proulx then supports his
assertion that the trophy heads were collected through warfare by discussing their
demographic profile (nearly all are those of young adult males, although some Nasca
trophy heads are from women and children) and mentioning that many exhibit signs of
trepanation associated with skull injuries (p. 121). It should be mentioned that while
the demographic profile and iconographic evidence support the assertion that the trophy
heads were acquired through warfare, the relationship between trepanation and premortem
trophy-head traumas has not been scientifically investigated. I am unaware of any
report or presentation of this information and Proulx provides no citation. From my
first-hand knowledge of the Nasca trophy skulls at the Museo Nacional de
Antropología, Arqueología e Historia del Perú, this statement does
not stand up to any empirical evidence I have seen. Another questionable statement made
by Proulx is that “of all the cultures that practiced head-taking in ancient Peru, only
Nasca and Paracas are known to have meticulously prepared severed heads for ritual use”
(p. 122). It is difficult to justify this statement given the trophy heads known from
the Azapa Valley, northern Chile (Rivera 1991), and the presence of complex trophy
heads from Moche described in a subsequent chapter by Verano. These are minor points,
however, and do not undermine the central theses of Proulx’s chapter.

Proulx then turns to Nasca imagery to interpret the role the trophy heads had in
Nasca ceremonies and rituals. Nasca iconography is replete with individuals carrying
trophy heads. There are even ceramics fashioned in the shape of trophy skulls depicting
the correct anatomical location of the hole through the forehead where the cordage was
used to suspend the trophy heads. Proulx describes how various scenes depict acts of
offering trophy heads to mummy bundles. Based upon these scenes he suggests that Nasca
trophy heads were used in Nasca mortuary rituals. He cites other instances where Nasca
trophy heads are clearly associated with fertility offerings and makes a cogent
argument that the trophy heads played an integral role in regeneration and rebirth of
both the Nasca’s physical and supernatural world. This interpretation dovetails nicely
with Mary Frame’s discussion of Paracas embroidered textiles and goes far to aid in our
understanding of the relationship among prehistoric Andean offerings, decapitation, and
the role of trophy heads.

Anita Cook’s chapter “Huari D-Shaped Structures, Sacrificial Offerings, and Divine
Rulership” is, in my opinion, the strongest theoretical contribution for those seeking
a broader understanding of the role that sacrifice likely played in pre-Columbian Peru.
The Huari (A.D. 650-1000) were a highland empire that extended its influence throughout
northern and central Peru. Cook explains that Huari imagery is “a key to understanding
the organization of sacred space within the capital of Huari and at Huari sites outside
the Ayacucho Valley” (p. 139). Her central thesis is that pre-existing imagery and
practices, such as the sacrificer and notions of sacrifice and offerings, may have been
appropriated and transformed by the Huari to a form of state-tribute.

Cook examines the nature and spatial distribution of physical evidence in the form
of ritual offerings. Many of these offerings, including inanimate objects like ceramic
and cinnabar, animal and human remains, are located under floors of ceremonial and
centrally located D shaped structures, which are characteristic of Huari sites. Caches
of offerings within these D shaped structures, Cook explains, are located within
semi-subterranean stone-slab chambers and cylindrical capped cists. Grooves and holes
located in the coverings would have permitted re entry so that subsequent offerings
could be added. Later, Cook explains, ceramic imagery sometimes depicts the Huari
sacrificer in association with the D-shaped structures.

Cook then makes a strong case that “sacrifice” in Central Andean contexts is
materially expressed in “offerings and that these offerings are, in fact, forms of
repayment” (p. 156). She cites a number of ethnographic examples that clearly
illustrate how traditional Andeans view sacrifice as part of a continuum of possible
offerings made as payment to important Andean deities. According to Andean world view,
all things, inanimate and living, are imbued with sami, an essence or life force. Sami
circulates throughout all things in the universe, and by making offerings, one is an
active agent in directing sami so as to maintain balance and to propitiate appropriate
deities so that they act favorably on one’s behalf. This will sound familiar those
Mesoamericanists familiar with Alan Sandstrom’s (1991) descriptions of modern ritual
acts of the Nahua. Cook explains that the offerings at Huari D-shaped structures may
represent the Huari’s appropriation of pre-existing Andean ritual offerings and
cosmological beliefs as a form of tribute.

In the opening pages of the final chapter of this volume entitled “The Physical
Evidence of Human Sacrifice in Ancient Peru,” John Verano discusses the history of
finds of physical evidence for human sacrifice. He then proceeds to make a strong and
rigorous discussion of what constitutes physical evidence for human sacrifice and
decapitation and how such evidence can be distinguished from other alternative
explanations. Perimortem cut marks, posture and treatment of remains in primary
contexts, and more ephemeral physical evidence, such as the presence of ligatures,
provide fairly unequivocal evidence that an individual was sacrificed. The presence of
cervical vertebrae with cut marks in association with skulls likely indicates
decapitation, whereas a lack of cervical vertebrae associated with a skull may indicate
that the skull represents a secondary interment. Interred body parts that lack evidence
of cut marks are equivocal, but may also represent offerings in the form of secondary

Verano then proceeds to provide a thorough summary of the physical evidence for
human sacrifice, dedicatory offerings, secondary interments, and body parts. Finally,
he provides a detailed discussion of the nature of the evidence for human sacrifice
from Huaca de la Luna Plazas 3A and 3C. Verano makes a strong case based upon the
available physical evidence in the form of demographic profile (all adult males),
treatment (scattered distribution of the human remains that were left out to rot as
evidenced by the presence of fly pupae), evidence for previously healed broken bones,
and forensic evidence for cause of death (radial skull fractures indicating massive
blunt trauma, while others show evidence of having been struck in the skull by
star-shaped maces), that these individuals represent sacrificed captive warriors.
Verano’s level of analytical rigor in the analysis of physical evidence is a welcome
contribution to our understanding and detection of human sacrifice and offerings.

For non-Andeanists and methodologists, this volume would likely have been
strengthened if Verano’s chapter was placed first. The volume would have benefitted
from a rigorous and explicit discussion of what kinds of evidence we might accept human
sacrifice. In any case, I feel that Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru, despite some
shortcomings, is a must-read for Mesoamericanists. While not all of the information
presented in the volume will be directly applicable, one can always glean novel
insights, methodologies, and possible extra-regional connections and similarities by
reading works done outside one’s own area of investigation.

References Cited

Alva, W., and C. B. Donnan. 1993. Royal Tombs of Sipan. Los Angeles: Fowler Museum
of Cultural History, UCLA.

Bourget, S. 1994. “Los sacerdotes a la sombra del cerro blanco y del arco
bicéfalo.” Revista del Museo de Arqueología, Antropología, e
Historia no. 5:81-125.

__________. 1997a. “La colére des ancêtres: Découverte d’un site
sacrificiel à la Huaca de la Luna, vallée de Moche.” In À l’ombre
du Cerro Blanco: Nouvelles découvertes sur la culture Moche, côte nord du
Pérou. C. Chapdelaine, ed., pp. 83-99. Montreal: University of Montreal.

__________. 1997b. “Las excavaciones en la Plaza 3A de la Huaca de la Luna.” In
Investigaciones en la Huaca de la Luna 1995. S. Uceda, E. Mujica, and R. Morales, ed.,
pp. 51-59. Trujillo, Peru: Universidad Nacional de la Libertad.

Donnan, C. W., and L. J. Castillo. 1992. “Discovery of the Moche Priestess.”
Archaeology 45(6):38-42.

Reinhard, J. 1996. “Peru’s Ice Maidens.” National Geographic Magazine

__________. 1999. “Frozen in Time.” National Geographic Magazine 196(5):36-55.

Rivera, M. 1991. “The Prehistory of Northern Chile: A Synthesis.” Journal World
Prehistory 5:1 48.

Sandstrom, A. R. 1991. Corn is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a
Contemporary Aztec Indian Village. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Tierney, P. 1989. The Highest Altar: The Story of Human Sacrifice. New York:

Verano, J. W. 1995. “Where Do They Rest? The Treatment of Human Offerings and
Trophies in Ancient Peru.” In Tombs for the Living: Andean Mortuary Practices. T. D.
Dillehay, ed., pp. 189-227. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Collection.

Richard C. Sutter
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne


Terry Stocker has written to contribute these comments on Richard Townsend’s The Aztecs:

In 1992, when I read Richard Townsend’s (1992) caption to Motecuhzoma II’s
coronation stone I assumed it was in part a typo. I did not write specifically
addressing the issue at the time since I thought my two-part work A Walk Through An
Aztec Dream and The Aztec Augury Table dealing with Sahagún’s Book 4 would be
published about 1994; both works should appear sometime in 2003. Townsend’s mistakes
are detailed in the latter. However, a few articles have appeared (Stocker and Dodge
1993; Stocker 1998, 2000, n.d.a).

Dutifully reading Latin American Antiquity book reviews, I learned that not only has
Townsend’s book, The Aztecs, arrived revised, but the mistakes regarding the stone
still stand (Whittaker 2000). It is now Figure 106 instead of Figures 104 and 105.
Whittaker ends his review by noting that Townsend’s book “cannot be recommended
unequivocally as a textbook or as a guide to the nonmaterial side of Aztec culture.”
Whittaker notes that Townsend’s grasp of ethnohistorical materials is inadequate at

An underlying current of A Walk Through An Aztec Dream is that the material side of
Aztec culture cannot be adequately presented outside of an ethnohistorical context. If
we didn’t have these records, we might talk (write) about the Aztecs much as some do
about Teotihuacan or the Olmec. For example, when reading about pre-Aztec life,
archaeologists write about ritual this and sacrifice that. Indeed it is sometimes
difficult to separate ritual from almost anything in an animistic culture. Nonetheless,
Sahagún has given us a picture of Aztec life in which, for example, people were
executed for misdeeds, not sacrificed. The two are profoundly different. Execution is
also presented in other ethnohistorical works such as Duran (1964). In certain
Mesoamerican iconography and skeletal remains, we are witnessing executions not
sacrifice. I will not belabor this point here, but hope that readers will look at
Stocker and James (1988) and Stocker (n.d.b). Likewise, slaves abound in
ethnohistorical literature, but why do none exist in the archaeological record? I
propose that at least 10 to 20 percent of Tollan population was slaves. Anyone may
equivocate with the percentage, but they cannot equivocate that slaves must become a
living part of the prehistoric landscape (Stocker n.d.c).

In addition, Townsend has other problems with the material side of the Mesoamerican
landscape. He claims that “The so-called Pyramid of the Morning Star at Tula was in
fact the seat of supreme authority at the city” (Townsend 1992:48, fig. 27). I have
detailed the fact that Tula’s Pyramid B faces south, not east, in the direction of the
Morning Star (Stocker 1993). Townsend changed this to: “Pyramid B at Tula was the seat
of supreme authority at the city, with grim warrior columns supporting the roof of the
upper chamber” (Townsend 2000:48). I doubt that the warriors supported a roof, but it
is possible. However, in light of temple B’s columns, I think both were placed outside
(Stocker n.d.b). I also pointed out that Tula’s Pyramid C is larger than Pyramid B, and
normally when allocating authority in Mesoamerica, supreme authority is granted to the
larger pyramid. This landscape alignment, of the largest pyramid facing west, is
critically important when looking for Aztec heritage (Umberger 1987). My 1993 article
was published in a Mexican source, something not well-represented in Townsend’s

Now, for Townsend’s caption and interpretation of Motecuhzoma II’s box. On the box
is the date 11 Acatl (Reed) in a cartouche which Townsend in both the text of his book
and the caption refers to as 2 Reed. Whittaker points out this error. We can push
beyond this. Townsend writes, “…plus the year-cartouche 2 reed, and a day-sign 12
alligator. In the Christian calendar this date corresponds to 11 June 1502. The
coronation of the emperor Motecuhzoma II….” One will not see the day-sign 12
alligator, but rather 1 Cipactli (Caiman). The word “alligator” should never be used in
Mesoamerica since they do not exist there, only caimans do (Stocker et al. 1980). 1
Cipactli was the coronation date of Motecuhzoma II as it was for all the Aztec kings
before him and after him and presumably the kings at Tula (Stocker n.d.b).

References Cited

Duran, D. 1964. The Aztecs. N.Y.: Orion Press.

Stocker, T. n.d.a. “Is There Really a Man in the Moon?” In Trickster and
Ambivalence: The Dance of Differentiation. B. Spinks. ed. Atwood Publishing (in

__________. n.d.b. “Reading Tula’s Columns.” Arquelogía (in press).

__________. n.d.c. “The Trickster on Parade: The Aztecs.” Available: (in press).

__________. 2000. “Reconsidering Comments on Sahagún’s 260 Day Signs.” Nahua
Newsletter 30:25-26.

__________. 1998. “The Aztec 260 Day Count: An Augury Table Not a Calendar.”
Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers 23:175-86.

__________. 1993. “Contradictions in Religious Myths: Tezcatilipoca and his
Existence at Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico.” Notas Mesoamericanas 14:63-92.

Stocker, T., and G. Dodge. 1993. “Comments on the 260-Day Calendar in
Sahagún’s Book of Soothsayers.” Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers

Stocker, T., and D. James. 1988. “Semiotic Analysis of Prehistoric Texts.” Semiotics
1987:183 92.

Stocker, T., S. Meltozoff, and S. Ramsey. 1980. “Further Interpretations in
Formative Period Iconography.” American Antiquity 45:740-58.

Townsend, R. 1992. The Aztecs. London: Thames and Hudson.

__________. 2000. The Aztecs. Rev. ed. London: Thames and Hudson.

Umberger, E. 1987. “Antiques, Revivals, and References to the Past in Aztec Art.”
Res 13:62-105.

Whittaker, G. 2000. Review of The Aztecs by Richard F. Townsend. Latin American
Antiquity 4:433-34. 30:25-26.

Illustrations this issue

The fine illustrations in this issue were taken from a new monograph entitled
Tamtok: Sitio arqueológico huasteco, Vol 1. Su historia, sus edificios. By Guy y
Claude Stresser-Péan, in collaboration with Alain Ichon, published with the
support of La Fondation Singer-Polignac. México. D.F.: El Instituto de Cultura
de San Luis Potosí; El Colegio de San Luis A.C.; Conaculta/El Instituto Nacional
de Antropología e Historia; Le Centre Français d’Études Mexicaines
et Centraméricaines, 2001. Pp. 364, 1 map, 101 plates of black and white
illustrations, 3 color plates, 34 pages of photographs. ISBN 968-6029-72-9 (Spanish
edition with CD-ROM in French). Derived from the flyer that accompanies the book:

“Tamtok is a Huastecan archaeological site in the ancient province of Oxitipa. It is
situated on a plain through which the Tamuín River meanders and connects more
than 50 small and medium-sized mounds dominated by two large natural hills that were
once mistaken for pyramids. Twenty-three buildings compose the imposing ceremonial
plaza. Five platforms of ritual use in the center are surrounded by 13 round houses and
by two large rectangular buildings with terraces most likely used as social gathering
places. Funeral or votive offerings were found here as well as a mural, small statues,
sculpted steles, etc. As a whole it gives us an idea of what the religious life of a
few noble families that dominated the city of Tamtok must have been like, their
practice of the cult of fertility, and veneration of the principal divinity who was the
old, hunched and wrinkled Huastecan god. Tamtok is a recent Postclassic site, but the
study of its ceramic material and offerings deposited at the foot of two great steles
attest to occupation during the ancient Classic period.”

Directory Update

Editor’s note: For privacy reasons, Directory mailing lists are only provided on the print version. If you have any questions, please contact the editor.

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