COMING SOON! PQDT Open is getting a new home!

ProQuest Open Access Dissertations & Theses will remain freely available as part of a new and enhanced search experience at

Questions? Please refer to this FAQ.

Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Political landscapes of late prehispanic Sonora: A view from the Moctezuma Valley
by Pailes, Matthew C., Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2015, 915; 3680868
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation offers a reformulation of social organization in eastern Sonora from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries based on survey and excavation data collected in the Moctezuma Valley, Sonora, Mexico. Prior researchers, utilizing Spanish exploration era documents, argued for the presence of territorial polities that controlled large sections of river valleys with an elite class supported by the management of long distance trade. Previous archaeological research demonstrated hierarchy in settlement patterns, but differed in interpretations regarding the methods of "elite" ascendance. This dissertation addresses questions of both the scale of political organization and its likely underpinnings. Multiple data sets including artifact style boundaries, settlement pattern analysis, and consideration of ecological parameters demonstrate political organization rarely reached beyond local sections of river valleys. This suggests dozens of locally autonomous settlement communities were present in an area previously argued to contain less than ten political units.

Additionally, application of a diverse set of provenance techniques facilitated testing previous hypothesis regarding exchange in the region. The character of regional exchange systems appears to be mostly through down-the-line acquisition, likely orchestrated by aspirant leaders at the level of local settlement communities. These interactions rarely reached beyond near neighbors and excluded some immediately adjacent settlement communities. In contrast, the exchange of mundane ceramics crossed these same boundaries, indicating different segments of society forged incongruous social networks.

In summary, these data suggest the region would be a very poor conduit for long distance exchange, most aspirant leaders had only limited access to social valuables, and that the social landscape was sufficiently volatile that most households sought exterior ties as a means of risk reduction. Local warfare in conjunction with demographic and ecological factors are argued to play the predominant roles in generating the political landscape of eastern Sonora. Overall, small scales of political consolidation and minimal hierarchical control characterized the broader region.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fish, Paul R.
Commitee: Fish, Suzanne K., Killick, David, Kuhn, Steven L., Mills, Barbara J.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Exchange, Mexico, Opata, Protohispanic period, Rio Sonora, Social organization, Sonora
Publication Number: 3680868
ISBN: 978-1-321-53252-4
Copyright © 2021 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy Cookie Policy