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Early formative subsistence and agriculture in southeastern Mesoamerica Feddema, Vicki L. 1993

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EARLY FORMATIVE SUBSISTENCE AND AGRICULTUREIN SOUTHEASTERN MESOAMERICAbyVICKI LYNN FEDDEMAB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1989A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Anthropology and Sociology)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1993© Vicki Lynn Feddema, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of  Aitily0 f c9-1011 an"-A. 54 t, a *lollThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate ^Scp4 . 1 4- i 11 93DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTThis thesis addresses questions regarding the nature of subsistence strategiespracticed by Early Formative inhabitants of the Mazatan area on the Pacific Coast ofsoutheastern Mesoamerica. Previous archaeological research indicates that estuarine andriverine faunal resources provided the main basis for subsistence. Here, I propose thatcultivation of indigenous food plants was also an important component in the subsistencesystem and was established prior to the introduction of non-local domesticated plantssuch as maize. The development of cultivation practices probably occurred as a gradualprogression from casual to more deliberate cultivation of favored plant species.Incentives for such practices may have been related to nutrition, seasonal availability,efficiency and/or storability. Non-local domesticates may have been adopted into theexisting cultivation regime for similar reasons, or for reasons related to sociopoliticalcomplexity, which appears to have emerged around the same time.Research questions generated by this hypothesis are addressed through theanalysis of carbonized plant remains that were recovered from 147 flotation samplescollected from four archaeological sites in the study area. Of the seven botanical taxathat were identified, maize, beans and avocado are the most ubiquitous and indicate thatthe cultivation of domesticated plants was well underway by the beginning of the EarlyFormative period (about 3500 years ago). It is, however, difficult to assess the actualimportance of these species in the subsistence economy. Because post-depositionalprocesses and differential patterns of plant utilization and preservation influence theamount and type of plant material that will be preserved, archeobotanical remainsprovide, at best, an indirect reflection of plant resource utilization by ancient humanpopulations. Statistical treatment of recovered data is therefore problematical, andinference based upon simple identification of species present in archaeological contextsis the approach used here to examine trends in taxon occurrence.TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract^ iiTable of Contents^ iiiList of Tables ivList of Figures^ vAcknowledgement viChapter One: Introduction and OverviewIntroduction^ 1The Mazatän Environment^ 4Archaeological Investigations in the Mazatan Area^14Notes^ 21Chapter Two: The Transition to Agriculture in the Mazatan AreaIntroduction^ 22Research Objectives^ 24Local Developments in the Mazatan Area^ 27Adoption of Non-local Domesticates 31Summary^ 36Notes 37Chapter Three: Data Recovery and AnalysisIntroduction ^ 38Data Recovery Techniques^ 40Sample Selection 43Techniques of Laboratory Analysis^ 49Identification of Recovered Macroremains^ 54Notes^ 56Chapter Four: Results and DiscussionDescription of Recovered Taxa^ 57Data Presentation and Quantification 72Discussion^ 78Chapter Five: ConclusionsReview of Objectives and Results^ 81Contributions of this Study^ 87Recommendations for Future Research 89Bibliography^ 92Appendix One: Floral and Faunal Species in the Mazatan Area^108iiiLIST OF TABLESTable 3.1 Summary of analyzed samples.^ 43Table 3.2 Key to sample numbers.^ 44Table 3.3 Heavy fractions: total weight and percent sorted.^ 52Table 4.1 Counts of recovered Zea mays specimens. 61Table 4.2 Measurements of Zea mays cob fragments.^ 62Table 4.3 Phaseolus spp. seed measurements.^ 65Table 4.4 Absolute counts of recovered archeobotanical remains^73Table 4.5 Ubiquity of identified taxa: occurrence and frequency scores.^77ivLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1.1^Map of the Soconusco region, showing modern towns (circles)and archaeological sites (triangles).^ 5Figure 1.2^Environmental zones in the Mazatan area.^ 9vChronology for the Late Archaic and Early Formative periodsalong the Pacific coast of southeastern Mesoamerica.Diagram of flotation system equipment.Zea mays cupules (top) and kernels (bottom).Zea mays cob fragments recovered from Samples 74 (top),25 (center) and 34 (bottom).Phaseolus spp. (top), Persea americana (center) andPersea sp. (bottom).MoIlugo sp. (top), Polygonum sp. (center) and Brassica sp.(bottom).Figure 1.3Figure 3.1Figure 4.1Figure 4.2Figure 4.3Figure 4.4174159606670viACKNOWLEDGEMENTI would like to express my gratitude to the many individuals who contributed to thecompletion of this study. I am especially grateful to Dr. Michael Blake, the senioradvisor on my committee, for his guidance during the Early Formative period of myarchaeological career. In addition to providing valuable theoretical insights, he initiatedme into Mesoamerican archaeology and provided the opportunity to work with him onthe Early Formative Project in Chiapas. I appreciate his generosity, his unfailing goodhumour and his infectious enthusiasm.I am also very grateful for the advice, guidance and support extended by the othermembers of my advisory committee, Dr. Richard Pearson and Dr. Alfred Siemens. Dr.R.G. Matson also sat on this committee during an earlier stage of my studies.Financial support was provided by the University of British Columbia in the form ofa two-year University Graduate Fellowship, teaching assistantships, and researchassistantships (the latter through SSHRCC funds granted to Dr. Michael Blake).I owe a great debt to John Clark, director of the New World ArchaeologicalFoundation (Brigham Young University) and co-director of the Early Formative Project, forconsistently setting an example of high standards to be followed in all aspects ofarchaeological research. I gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support of theNew World Archaeological Foundation, which picked up the tab for my flights to Mexicoand for living expenses while I was there on numerous occasions. Other individualsassociated with the Foundation who provided various forms of assistance include RonnyLowe, Gareth Lowe, Artemio Villatoro and Ignacio Sanchez.Several other individuals and institutions in Mexico provided assistance and financialsupport throughout my research. I would especially like to thank Lorena Mirambell Silvaand Carlos Silva (Institut° Nacional de Antropologia e Historia), Mario Tejada and JesusMorales BermOdez (Institut° Chiapaneco de Cultura), and Dra. Emily McClung de Tapia,Emilio lbarra Morales, Javier Gonzalez, Gilda Ortiz and Guillermo lbarra Manriquez(Universidad Nacional AutOnoma de Mexico). This project could not have beencompleted without their help.Fieldwork in Mexico was greatly enlivened by the presence of Dr. Barbara Voorhies,Richard Lesure, Barbara Arroyo, Mary Pye, Warren Hill and Dennis Gosser. I am trulyfortunate to have had the opportunity to work in association with these people. Theirkeen interest in the archaeology of the coast of southeastern Mesoamerica, their highstandards of research and their stimulating and introspective discussions were inspiring.Closer to home, I want to thank my friends and colleagues at U.B.C. Joyce Johnsonwas always there and ready to help with things technical, intellectual or emotional. Sheand her husband Terry invited me home for many a fine meal. Brian Chisholm's eternalsupply of optimism sustained me in a different way. Very special thanks go to mybuddies Grant Beattie, Kitty Bernick, Dorrie Bixler, Mike Brand, Doug Brown, WarrenHill, Andrew Mason, Heather Pratt, Brian Thom, Ann Stevenson and Allison Young fortheir friendship and encouragement. I also want to thank the secretaries in theDepartment of Anthropology and Sociology — especially Margaret Baskette — for theirgood-natured assistance.My deepest and most heart-felt thanks go to my family — Jim and Helen Feddema,Sheri Feddema, Michelle AnseII, and Janice Gibbons — and to my close personal friendsRob McGregor, Helga Sermat, Dave Marshall, and Lois, Locke and Taylor Rowe.1CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEWINTRODUCTIONIn this study, I address questions regarding subsistence practices by the Mokayapeople in the Mazatan area of southeastern Mesoamerica in the Early Formative period,approximately 3500 years ago. Previous archaeological research has demonstrated thatsome agriculture was being practiced at this time but that a mixed economy, based onthe exploitation of a naturally rich estuarine and riverine resource base, formed the majorpart of the subsistence economy. Why, in an area where a wide diversity of plant andanimal resources was readily available, did people choose to practice agriculture? Whatrole did cultivated plants play in their subsistence economy? What was the nature of thetransition to a subsistence economy that included cultivation?Questions related to the origins and development of agriculture have provided foodfor thought for generations of anthropologists and other scholars. Early explanations forthe development of agriculture tended to focus on universally-applicable "prime movers"that were ultimately responsible for the transition to food production. The limited abilityof such explanations to address developments in specific areas has resulted in thedevelopment of an approach that encourages the investigation of regional variationsthrough consideration of a range of possible explanations.In the Mazatan case, I hypothesize a sequential development of the local agriculturalprocess, in which cultivation of local food plants formed an important part of thesubsistence economy and was occurring prior to the introduction and adoption of non-local domesticates at the beginning of the Early Formative period. This hypothesizeddevelopment, described in greater detail in Chapter Two, raises a series of researchquestions which direct the study. These are related to the range of plants undercultivation, the relative importance of local wild and cultivated plants versus non-localINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 2domesticates, change through time in emphasis on various plant foods, and so on.The original domestication of a certain plant is a distinctly different process from itssubsequent spread to other areas and its adoption by other human groups. It is,therefore, highly unlikely that the same general model will be appropriate for explainingboth processes. The complexity of the hypothesized situation demands consideration ofexplanations that apply to the various stages of the sequential development. In ChapterTwo, I discuss two main stages — the origins of local cultivation practices in the Mazatanarea, and the adoption of non-local domesticates into an existing cultivation regime —and consider some possible means for explaining developments in each.To test the general hypothesis and to assess how well the proposed explanationsaddress the research questions generated by the hypothesis, I have analyzedpaleoethnobotanical data from four Early Formative period archaeological sites on thecoastal plain near the present town of Mazatan, Chiapas. Paleoethnobotany is theanalysis and interpretation of plant remains from archaeological contexts (Pearsall 1989;Popper and Hastorf 1988). Because paleoethnobotanical studies provide importantinformation about the nature of prehistoric human-plant interactions, they are now aroutine part of most archaeological excavation programs. They have been used toaddress such issues as the nature of ancient vegetation and climate (Piperno 1985a;Schoenwetter and Smith 1986), reconstruction of prehistoric dietary and economicpursuits (Byers 1967; Quilter et al. 1991; Roosevelt 1980; Siemens et al. 1988), changinghuman/environmental relationships (De'court et al. 1986; Minnis 1978), and origins ofplant domestication (Crawford 1983; Ford 1985; Rindos 1984). While the analysis ofarchaeological plant material is just one of numerous possible avenues for pursuing thesequestions, it is an extremely important one, and probably the most direct. It establisheswhich genera of plants are actually present in the archaeological record and thereforeprovides a substantive basis for inquiry into their possible utilization by prehistoricpeoples.INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 3In Chapter Three, I describe the methods used in the analysis of the botanical data.These data consist of charred seeds and other plant remains that were recoveredprimarily through the process of water flotation. In the first section, I provide a detaileddescription of this process. In the second section, I discuss the criteria involved in theselection of samples for analysis. In the final section, I describe the techniques involvedin the two stages of the laboratory analysis: sorting the flotation samples and identifiyingthe recovered archeobotanical material.In Chapter Four, I present the results of the analysis. Following a description of thecharacteristics of the recovered taxa, I describe the occurrence of these taxa inquantitative terms and present this information in tabular form. Finally, I discussobserved patterns in the data.Chapter Five includes a summary of the objectives of the project and a discussion ofthe implications that the results have for our understanding of subsistence practices andthe development of agriculture in the Mazatan area during the Early Formative period. Inconclusion, I reiterate some of the limitations that I faced in this project and makerecommendations for other researchers contemplating similar studies.The remainder of the present chapter consists of an environmental andarchaeological overview of the Mazatan area. Because of the important role that localenvironmental conditions appear to have played in the development of the subsistencesystem, I discuss the local topography, climate, hydrography and biotic communities. Inthe subsequent section, I describe the archaeological background of this area and presenta brief summary of what is currently understood about the subsistence economy duringthe Early Formative period.INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 4THE MAZATAN ENVIRONMENT'The Mazatan area is located in the geographic region known as the Soconusco2(Voorhies 1989:2). This region consists of a section of the southern Pacific coast ofChiapas, Mexico, that extends approximately 240 km southeast from near the presenttown of Mapastepec to just east of the Mexico-Guatemala border (Figure 1.1).Topographic and meteorologic factors distinguish the Soconusco region from the coastalareas to the northwest and the southeast.Local  topography and  climateThe Soconusco region is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and by theSierra Madre mountains to the northeast. The Sierra Madre chain rises in elevation from765 m at Arriaga, on the northern boundary of the Chiapas coast, to its maximumelevation of 4110 m at Tacand volcano on the Mexico-Guatemala border. This elevationchange creates distinct variations in the amount of rainfall along the coast. The lowerelevations in the area to the northwest of the Soconusco permit the Gulf of Mexico tradewinds — hot and dry after dropping their moisture in the interior highlands — to passthrough to the coast, creating arid conditions in the costa seca, or "dry coast". In theSoconusco region, the higher elevations of the Sierra mountain peaks prevent thesedessicating winds from reaching the coast. In addition, they prevent moisture-ladenwinds from the Pacific from passing over into the interior basins, forcing them instead tocondense as they strike the high peaks. Because of these more humid conditions, theSoconusco has a greater agricultural potential than does the more arid costa Leca(Voorhies 1989:2).Even within the Soconusco itself, there is a good deal of climatic variation. Mostprecipitation falls on the mid-slope and piedmont zone, creating a humid tropical climate(Koeppen's AMWG1). The mean annual precipitation ranges from 2433 mm atTapachula (170 m a.s.I.) to 4654 mm at Union Juarez (1400 m a.s.I.). In contrast, theSalinas La B anca ."M exico/GuatemalaSO CONUSCOPACIFIC OCEANMapa epec•PajoCh ntutoHuixtlaAqui esChiloAltamiraPaso de la Amada••TapaMazatanI zap•ulaGULF OF MEXICO0^10^20^30^40^50KilometersINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 5Figure 1.1. Map of the Soconusco region, showing modern towns (circles) andarchaeological sites (triangles). Redrawn from Clark (n.d.) and Voorhies (1989:3).INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 6narrow (approximately 15 km wide) strip of coastal plain on which the Mazatan area islocated has a semi-arid tropical climate (Koeppen's AWG1). Rainfall data for the town ofMazatan show that the mean annual precipitation is less than 1500 mm, most of whichfalls between May and October (de la Pena, translated in Lowe et al. 1982:59-60).During the dry season, from November to April, the comparative lack of precipitation inthe Mazatan area is one of the primary limiting factors in cultivation practices.Rainfall is also more unpredictable as one moves from the piedmont to the coast.While it rains almost every day in the piedmont during the wet season, it rains onlyevery other day in the semi-arid zone. Moreover, the canicula (a short dry periodduring the rainy season) that may last for eight days in the more humid zone — with noharmful effects — sometimes extends for up to thirty days during July and August in themore arid zones, with devastating effects on crops (ibid. p.61).GeologyThe coastal plain of Chiapas is composed largely of alluvium deposited from thenumerous streams and rivers that descend from the Sierra Madre volcanic range (Ceja1985:7; Clark n.d.). There are few natural stone or mineral resources, except for cobblesand pebbles in the river and stream beds. In the Mazatdn area, these cobbles consistmainly of pyroxene andesites and porphyries, with some vesicular basalt in the HuixtlaRiver to the northwest (Clark n.d.). These provided raw materials for grinding tools in theEarly Formative period, but stone suitable for chipped tools does not occur naturally onthe coastal plain and was imported from volcanic sources in Guatemala.Soils in the semi-arid zone of the coastal plain consist of sandy and silty loams — themollisols and inceptisols (Velazquez 1977, cited in Clark n.d.). Although there isconsiderable variation in the natural fertility, organic content, drainage, porosity andmoisture retention of these soils, they are generally of high quality. With the exceptionof some pockets of clayey soil and some saline soils near the estuary, they provideINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 7favorable conditions for agriculture with little human intervention. In the piedmont zone,the higher clay content and acidity of the andosol and acrisol soils result incomparatively lower agricultural potential.HydrographyBecause of the narrow width of the coastal plain, the rivers and streams are short andform a parallel system perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean (Ceja 1985:9). They aredeeply cut through the piedmont and upper coastal plain, and offer little agriculturalpotential except where they widen out near their mouths (Clark n.d.). Near the beach,most of these riversflow parallel to the coast before breaking through to the ocean and forminga mouth. These openings to the ocean are not wide enough to permit theflow of tidal water and so are not true estuaries but bayous [Helbig1964:100], unlike the situation farther up the coast near Escuintla describedby Voorhies [1976]. During the dry season the debouchments of mostrivers are sealed off by sand bars, forcing the rivers to back up and flowinto the estuary-swamp system that parallels the coast; these are known as"sweet water" estuaries (Clark n.d.).At the beginning of the rainy season in the Sierra and piedmont areas, these rivers fillwith runoff and replenish the swamps and estuaries of the coastal plain several weeksbefore the rains begin there (Clark n.d.). This increases the agricultural potential for low-lying areas, since they receive moisture while still in the dry season.The major river in the Mazatan area is the Coatan. Traces of old river channels(known locally as bajos) evident in aerial photographs from the 1960s and 1970sindicate that the Coatan's course has changed over time. The overflow properties ofthese old channels make them favored locations for agriculture at the end of the dryseason, since they receive the earlier rains from the piedmont and dry out much moreslowly than the surrounding land. In addition, they are fertilized by the annualdeposition of silt from the flood waters, and they provide a seasonal source of aquaticresources, such as fish and turtles, which are stranded as the bajos. slowly dry out. Bajos INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 8which are used for agricultural production are referred to as chahuites.Environmental Zones and Biotic Communities The complexity of the physiographic and climatic conditions of the Soconusco isreflected in the diversity of local floral and faunal resources. The Mazatan area ischaracterized by several major environmental zones (see Figure 1.2), each with its owndistinct biotic communities. Studies of archaeological fauna (eg. Voorhies 1976) andethnohistoric descriptions of the area during the early historic period (eg. Acutia 1982)suggest that these biotic communities are broadly similar to those of thepaleoenvironment. It is likely, however, that considerable variation in their preciselocation, extent, and content has occurred over the years as a result of humanintervention. The following brief descriptions of these environmental zones are basedprimarily on the detailed information recently synthesized by Clark (n.d.) followingextensive research and informant interviews in the Mazatan area. Other descriptionsappear in Breedlove (1981), Coe and Flannery (1967), Eccardi and Alvarez del Toro(1987), Helbig (1964), McBryde (1947), Miranda (1952), Miranda and Hernandez X.(1963), Rzedowski (1978), Rzedowski and Equihua (1987) and Voorhies (1976).Appendix One lists some of the dominant plant and animal species documented for eachenvironmental zone.1. The  littoral The straight coastline in the Mazatdn area has no natural harbours and its heavy surfgenerally discourages extensive use of the ocean resources (Voorhies 1976:3; Clark n.d.).At the mouths of the rivers, however, where sand bars have formed, there is a greaterpotential for utilization of the diverse plant and animal resources that occur there. Thiszone consists of two major biotic communities: the beach and the estuary.The beach is a narrow, infertile sand ridge separating the ocean from the estuary.INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 9Figure 1.2. Environmental zones in the Mazatán area. Adapted from Clark (n.d.).INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 10On its exposed outer edge, it is unstable and shifting. The most important food resourcesinclude invertebrates (such as crabs, snails and clams) and eggs of the green sea turtle.On the more stable backslope of the beach, iguana and armadillo are also found. Thedunes are stabilized by a thin fringe of palm trees and dense spiny scrub species.Modern farmers cultivate melons, soy beans, sesame and other xerophilous plants.The "sweet-water" estuary in the Mazatan area is formed through the backing up ofthe Coatan river at its debouchment, and it is relatively unaffected by tidal action. Somemollusks are available on a seasonal and periodic basis, but not in the quantitiescharacteristic of more brackish estuaries. The abundant vegetation and proximity of freshwater in the estuary zone creates a favorable habitat for a variety of fauna, including fish,turtles, reptiles, waterbirds, and mammals (see Appendix One).The estuary is flanked by a narrow strip of mangrove forest, dominated by speciestolerant of inundated and saline soils, such as the red mangrove and white mangrove.On the inland side of the mangrove forest, where the ground is only seasonallyinundated, there is a biotic community known as the madresal, dominated by the blackmangrove. Salt-tolerant grasses and palms also inhabit this community. Economically,this zone is most important for construction materials such as mangrove wood and palmthatch (Clark n.d.). In the past, fishing and salt-making were also important economicactivities (Aculla 1982:48, Andrews 1983:68).2. Short-tree savannaThe term "short-tree savanna" (also known as pastizal or sabana [Miranda 1952;Miranda and Hernández X. 1963]) refers to an association of grassland and spaced lowtrees that usually occurs on shallow, poorly-drained soils (Breedlove 1981:16). In theMazatdr) area, it is a transitional zone between the littoral and the lower coastal plain.Only a narrow strip of seasonally inundated land near the Cantilena swamp would havebeen natural savanna, but forest clearance associated with cattle ranching hasINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 11significantly extended this zone in recent years.The most common plant species include nance, gourd and oak trees, leguminousspecies, coarse grasses, and occasional species of palms. Isolated stands of vegetation(known locally as mogotes) dominated by wild bamboo or palm species also occur. Thisenvironmental zone is a favored habitat for water birds, rodents, snakes, rabbits, deer,armadillos, and foxes (see Appendix One).3. Cantilefia SwampThe estuary described above is connected to the Cantilena swamp, a huge body offresh water bordered by pampas, or seasonally inundated areas which support savannavegetation. Islands and fossil beaches exist in its interior. Today, the edges of theswamp are choked with dense thickets of water hyacinths introduced early in thecentury, but in the past the major plant species was probably cattails, as Voorhiesdescribes for the herbaceous swamps in the Chantuto system (1976:20). A variety andabundance of fish inhabit this part of the swamp, including bass, alligator gar and snook.Several species of mollusks and turtles are also common.The interior part of the swamp is open and contains balsas, or floating islands oflarge trees maintained erect by extensive interweaving of their branches and roots. Theseislands provide nesting places for migratory waterfowl, and until recently they wereinhabited by a wide abundance of animal species. Alvarez del Toro (1990) listsnumerous species of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and invertebrates witnessed duringexploration of the swamp in 1954, when conditions were relatively pristine. Yet, thirtyyears later, over-exploitation of the natural resources had caused the serious depletion orextinction of many species. Presumably, this part of the swamp would have providedbountiful resources to the foragers who first exploited this area during the late Archaicand Early Formative periods. Over-exploitation may, however, have occurred at variouspoints in the more distant past as well.INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 124. Coastal  Plain The Soconusco coastal plain was once covered in forest, but agriculturalintensification for cash crops (such as cotton, bananas, soybeans, sesame, cacao andsugar-cane) has greatly reduced the primary vegetation (Ceja 1985:10). Two bioticcommunities can be described for this zone: Tropical Deciduous Forest and EvergreenSeasonal Forest. There is, however, a great deal of overlap between these communities.Moving from the estuary to the more arid part of the coastal plain, the Short-treeSavanna gives way to the Tropical Deciduous Forest (Bosque Tropical Caducifolio[Rzedowski 19781, or SeIva Baja Caducifolia [Miranda and Hernández X. 1963]). This isan association of deciduous and semi-deciduous trees, normally between 10 and 20 mhigh, that remain leafless during the long dry season (Breedlove 1981:14-16). On theupper, more humid part of the coastal plain, the Tropical Deciduous Forest blends intoEvergreen Seasonal Forest (Bosque Tropical Perennifolio [Rzedowski 1978], or SeIva D_Mediana Subperennifolia [Miranda and Hernández X. 1963]). This transitional forestconsists of a high (25-35 m) canopy of deciduous and evergreen trees and a lowerunderstory of shrubs, lianas, and epiphytes (Breedlove 1981:12). There is a marked dryseason, with great seasonal variation in herbaceous plants. Many economically-usefultrees occur in these forest formations, and their fruits attract a wide variety of fauna (Coeand Flannery 1967:14) (see Appendix One).Within these two forest formations, several discrete biotic communities createpockets of internal resource diversity. Mogotes, as discussed above, are one example.Variation also occurs along the banks of rivers that flow through these forests from thepiedmont to the estuary. In these riparian formations, the vegetation is EvergreenTropical Forest. Bajos would probably once have supported a similar vegetation, sincethey extend soil moisture conditions well into the dry season.INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 135.  Piedmont forestThe piedmont forest is generally outside of the specific area under considerationhere, but its proximity to the Mazatan area and its abundance and diversity of resourcesraise the possibility that it was used at least occasionally by the coastal people. As notedabove, the piedmont zone receives substantially more rainfall than does the more aridcoastal plain, and this is reflected in the Lower Montane Rain Forest (Bosque Tropical Perennifolio [Rzedowski 1978]; SeIva  Alta  Perennifolia [Miranda and Hernández X.1963]) biotic community characteristic of the lower part of the zone. This formation hasa high canopy (25-45 m) of trees typical of Tropical Rain Forest and an extremely densethicket of underbrush (Breedlove 1981:10) (see Appendix One).SummaryThe previous paragraphs illustrate the degree of environmental variation between thelittoral and piedmont areas. Recent ethnographic research on modern farming practicesshows that this variation has resulted in the development of diverse and variableagricultural practices, determined primarily by the availability of rainfall and chahuiteland. Low-lying areas which are most likely to receive overflow water, especially run-offwater from the more predictable and abundant rainfall in the piedmont area, are favoredareas for planting (Clark n.d.). Ethnographic studies from other areas have documentedsimilar means of overcoming limitations imposed by rainfall regimes. Farmers in thewetland areas of southern Veracruz and Tabasco plant on river levees early in the dryseason and advance progressively further downslope as waters recede during the dryseason. One additional crop (the marceno) can be gained by late planting in the lowestpart of the wetland (Coe and Diehl 1980; Siemens 1983:88). Similar dry season cropshave been documented in southern Belize where the Kekchi Maya plant mata hambre(the "hunger killer") on seasonally emergent floodplain land. This crop carries themthrough the end of the dry season, when other plant foods may be unavailable (TurnerINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 14and Harrison 1980, cited in Siemens 1982:40).If it is simplistic to speak of modern agriculture in normative terms, it is equallynaïve to ignore local variability in our consideration of Early Formative subsistencepractices. Food resources in the various environmental zones of the Mazatan area wouldprobably have been plentiful and easily available to late Archaic and Early Formativefood-seekers. The various biotic communities provide a good deal of diversity in plantand animal resources, with relatively little seasonal or year-to-year variation (Blake et al.1992a:138). As we see in following sections, some people also began to practiceagriculture around this time. It is plausible that ancient farmers in the Mazatan area, likethose of the present day, took advantage of the conditions presented by bajos and otherseasonally-inundated low-lying areas. As Siemens (1983:88) suggests, wetlands withregular, limited fluctuation in water level are especially well-suited for "fugitive"agricultural practices, and "were probably the venues for some of the earliest moves inthe direction of agriculture within Mesoamerica".ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS IN THE MAZATAN AREAThe present study is part of the Early Formative Project, a long-term study of social,political and economic change on the Pacific coast of Chiapas. This project was initiatedin 1985 by John Clark (Brigham Young University/New World ArchaeologicalFoundation) and Michael Blake (University of British Columbia) in an attempt to answerquestions raised by previous archaeological research in the area. In this section, I brieflysummarize these investigations and the resulting interpretations of the subsistencestrategies practiced by the Early Formative residents of the Mazatan area.History  of  archaeological investigations Archaeological investigations in the Soconusco region were initiated in 1941 byMatthew Stirling at the site of Izapa (Stirling 1943) (see Figure 1.1). In 1947, as part of aINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 15reconnaissance of the Pacific Coast, Philip Drucker carried out test excavations at Izapaand documented a Late Classic presence there. A Late Preclassic occupation was alsonoted there in 1956 (Lowe et al. 1982). During Drucker's (1948) coastal survey, hediscovered pre-ceramic Late Archaic levels at the Chantuto estuary site, which was laterinvestigated briefly by José Luis Lorenzo (1955).In the late 1950s, Michael Coe (1961) carried out excavations at La Victoria, acoastal site in the Guatemalan Soconusco. With his designation of the OcOs (1500-1000B.C.) and Conchas (1000-300 B.C.) ceramic phases, Coe constructed the firstchronological sequence for the area. Subsequent investigations at nearby Salinas LaBlanca (Coe and Flannery 1967) refined this sequence, which was broadened to includethe Cuadros (1000-850 B.C.) and Jocotal (850-800 B.C.) phases. Beginning with theCuadros phase, the ceramic complexes showed similarities with those of the early GulfCoast Olmec and related cultures in coastal Guatemala and Central Chiapas (Ceja 1985).In 1961, the New World Archaeological Foundation initiated a five-year researchprogram in the Soconusco area. This program focused on the Izapa site and establisheda long sequence of occupation from the Early Formative through the Early Postclassic(Ekholm 1969; Lee 1973; Lowe et al. 1982). Between 1963 and 1972, Carlos Navarreteand Eduardo Martinez E. carried out an extensive survey of the Soconusco zone. Thisresulted in the location and investigation of several Early Formative sites, includingAltamira (Green and Lowe 1967), a site with ceramics similar to those recovered at LaVictoria and Salinas La Blanca (Ceja 1985). Pre-OcOs ceramics that were also recoveredfrom Altamira resulted in the establishment of the Barra phase, dating to between 2000-1500 B.C. (Lowe 1975:1). The sudden appearance of these well-developed ceramicsrenewed efforts to clarify the cultural sequence of the Early Formative period.In 1968, Navarrete excavated at Aquiles Serdan, a site near Altamira, and foundOcOs deposits buried below the Olmec-related Cuadros and Jocotal layers. In 1973 and1974, Jorge Ceja T. and Gareth Lowe carried out a surface reconnaissance in the CoatanINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 16region in order to locate additional Barra and OcOs occupations. The Barra to OcOssequence was confirmed by test excavations at the Early Formative site of Paso de laAmada (Ceja 1985) and by investigations of the Early Formative Project in 1985 and1990 (Clark et al. 1987, 1990). As a result of these and other investigations, the OcOsphase was subdivided into three distinct phases, further refining the Early Formativesequence into its current manifestation: Barra (1550-1400 B.C.), Locona (1400-1250B.C.), Occis (1250-1100 B.C.), Cherla (1100-1000 B.C.), Cuadros (1000-900 B.C.), andJocotal (900-850 B.C.)3 (see Figure 1.3).Following the work of Coe and Flannery in the Guatemala Soconusco, subsequentinvestigations were carried out in the Salinas La Blanca area by Shook (Shook and Hatch1979) and by Love (1986, 1989). Further down the Pacific coast in the El Mesak region,a survey carried out by Demerest, Pye and others (Pye 1989) located several EarlyFormative sites in the estuary zone. However, no sites from the Late Archaic period orfrom the Barra phase of the Early Formative period have yet been found on theGuatemala coast (Clark 1991).In the Chantuto area, Barbara Voorhies followed up Drucker's and Lorenzo's briefexplorations with her investigations of Late Archaic adaptations at pre-ceramic sites(Voorhies 1976, 1989, 1990). Clark and Blake (Clark et al. 1987, 1990) recently locatedand excavated a Late Archaic shell-midden site in the municipality of Huixtla.Early subsistence  strategies  in  the Mazatan r.aeaThe investigations described above have produced an emerging synthesis of thecultural history of the Mazatdn area. Blake et al. (1993b) provide the most recent anddetailed discussion of the chronology of the Late Archaic and Early Formative periodsand the following summary of subsistence strategies is based on their discussion.The Mazatan area was first occupied during the Archaic-period Chantuto A phase(ca.3800-2700 B.C.) as represented at Cerro de las Conchas, a shell-midden site in theRadiocarbonYears B.C.(uncalibrated) Phase Name^850^Jocotal^900 ^Cuadros1000^Cherla1100^OcOs1250Locona1400 ^Barra1550 ^?1800^Chantuto B2700^Chantuto A3800^INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 17Figure 1.3. Chronology for the Late Archaic and Early Formative periods along thePacific Coast of Southeastern Mesoamerica. Adapted from Blake et al. (1993b).INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 18municipality of Huixtla (Blake et al. 1992b:85; Clark et al. 1990). The subsequentChantuto B phase (2700-ca.1800 B.C.) is represented by sites such as Tlacuachero in theChantuto zone (Voorhies 1976; Voorhies et al. 1991). Although data are still scarce forthese phases, there appears to have been a change from a more generalized exploitationof estuary and lagoon resources in the Chantuto A phase to a more specializedexploitation of local aquatic resources such as shellfish, fish and possibly shrimp inChantuto B (Clark et al. 1990; Voorhies et al. 1991). Voorhies interprets Chantuto B sitesas seasonal procurement and processing stations. At other times of the year, Chantutopeople may have moved farther inland on the coastal plain where they exploited wildplants and animals (Michaels and Voorhies 1993). Recent stable carbon isotope analysesof human bones from Tlacuachero indicate high C4 or CAM plant use and suggest thatChantuto people may have been consuming maize (Blake et al. 1992b:89).During the Barra phase (1550-1400 B.C.), which marks the beginning of the EarlyFormative period and the first use of ceramics, occupation at the estuary shell middensseems to have become less intense (Voorhies 1976:137) and sedentary villages werefounded on the banks of rivers or bajos on the coastal plain. These Early Formativevillagers have been dubbed the "Mokaya", an anglicized version of the Mixe-Zoque wordhaya, meaning "corn people" (Clark 1991:13; Clark and Blake 1989). However,subsistence practices for this period remain somewhat ambiguous.Lowe (1975) has suggested that manioc, rather than maize, was the staple foodduring this period. This idea was based on: 1) the absence of maize remains; 2) theabsence of maize grinding implements; and 3) the presence of abundant obsidian chipswhich, Lowe reasoned, could have served as manioc graters. Recent research, however,does not support Lowe's hypothesis on these bases. Charred maize remains have nowbeen identified from flotation samples from Barra through Cuadros phase contexts (seeChapter Four), and fragments of manos and metates have recently been recovered fromBarra and later deposits (Clark et al. 1990). While it is possible that these ground stoneINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 19implements were used for other purposes, ethnohistoric and ethnographic practicessupport the idea that they were used for grinding corn. Finally, analysis of the frequencyand morphology of the obsidian chips from these deposits does not appear to support themanioc grating hypothesis (Clark et al. 1987).This evidence does not disprove Lowe's hypothesis that manioc was a staple crop.Roots are notoriously difficult to recover from archaeological deposits in tropical areas.According to Donald Lathrap (1977:742), "manioc tissue is 1000 times less likely to yieldpreservable fragments than either maize or the avocado". Many root crops do notdeposit silica into the soil and are unlikely to be identified through phytolith analysis(Pearsall 1989:343). In the absence of direct botanical evidence, researchers are usingmore indirect ways of addressing this question. Historical linguistic data, for example,suggest that the Mixe-Zoque word for manioc was borrowed by speakers of otherMesoamerican languages (Campbell and Kaufman 1976:84). Mixe-Zoque languages werespoken in an area extending across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and along the Pacificcoastal plain to the Guatemalan border (Campbell 1988; Voorhies 1989:11). Theglottochronological time depth of these languages is estimated to be at least 3,500 years(around 1500 B.C.), which correlates with the Early Formative presence in the Mazatanarea. Other borrowed Mixe-Zoque words that refer to indigenous Mesoamericancultigens include cacao, gourd, squash, tomato, bean and sweet potato.Evidence for the cultivation of maize, beans and avocados throughout the EarlyFormative period is more direct, as demonstrated by the charred seeds, kernels and cobsrecovered from archaeological deposits. However, chemical analyses of Early Formativehuman bones indicate that the Mokaya in the Mazatan area had a mixed subsistenceeconomy, based largely on freshwater, estuarine and terrestrial faunal resources (and,presumably, on C, plant resources such as roots and fruits) and that maize did not form asignificant component in the diet (Blake et al. 1992b; but see Ambrose and Norr 1992).Maize may not have been very productive at this time, but even in the Middle Formative,INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 20when it had become important in neighboring zones such as Acapetahua and La Blanca,it apparently did not play a very important role in the diet of Mazatan-area villagers.This has interesting theoretical implications. The development of social complexity'in Mesoamerica has often been considered a consequence of a maize-based agriculturalmode of production. Until recently, the general consensus among archaeologists wasthat the roots of social complexity and the great Mesoamerican civilizations were to befound in the Olmec culture of the Gulf Coast area (Coe 1987:13; Sharer and Grove1989). However, Clark (1991) proposes that the Olmec beginnings can be traced back500 years earlier to the Mokaya of the Pacific Coast. Social complexity appears to havebeen present in this area by the Locona period, as indicated by settlement pattern data(Clark and Blake 1989), obsidian and ceramic data (Clark and Salcedo 1989; Clark andBlake 1993), domestic architecture (Blake and Feddema 1990; Blake et al. 1993a) andmortuary data (Clark et al. 1987). If maize was not an important part of the diet, then thedevelopment of social complexity in the Mazatan area demands a different explanation.Clark and Blake and other researchers involved in the Early Formative Project are seekingto address this question.SummaryThis brief discussion demonstrates that many issues concerning the nature anddevelopment of the Mokaya subsistence base remain unresolved. For example:1. How important were plant resources in the subsistence economy? What werethe major local plant species being collected and utilized?2. How did the transition from plant collection to agriculture occur? When didpeople in the Mazatan area begin cultivating local plant species, and what were theirincentives for doing so? Which species did they cultivate? What effect did suchpractices have on the subsistence economy?3. Why were non-local domesticates such as maize adopted, given the naturalINTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW/ 21richness and diversity of the local resources? What were the conditions under which thisoccurred?4. Was the transition from plant collecting to agriculture linked in some way to theshift from egalitarian to non-egalitarian society which appears to have occurred aroundthe same time?It is clear that more archaeological research is required before we can hope toanswer these questions. This thesis represents the first attempt to address these questionsthrough substantive analysis of plant remains from archaeological sites in the Mazatanarea. The theoretical framework that guides the analysis is outlined in Chapter Two.NOTES1. Much of the information in this section derives from environmental data in John E.Clark's Ph.D dissertation-in-progress (Clark n.d.) which was generously made available tome.2. The "Soconusco" was originally a political district or province controlled by theAztec. At the time of Spanish contact, its inhabitants were providing tribute to the Azteccapital of Tenochtitlän (Gasco and Voorhies 1989:48).3. These dates are from Blake et al. (1993b). Unless stated otherwise, all dates refer touncalibrated radiocarbon years.4. By "social complexity" (or "complex society"), I refer to a form of sociopoliticalorganization based on hereditary socioeconomic inequality — similar to Fried's (1967)"rank society" or Service's (1971) "chiefdom", but not necessarily exhibiting all of thetypological characteristics proposed by these authors. I see the definitive factor to be theinstitutionalization of hereditary status distinctions.22CHAPTER TWOTHE TRANSITION TO AGRICULTURE IN THE MAZATAN AREAINTRODUCTIONThe transition to food production was one of the most significant developments inthe course of cultural evolution. The attempt to explain this transition has motivated asearch for causes and generated a host of diverse explanations. Some of the majorfactors that these explanations have emphasized include climatic change (ChiIde 1956;Wright 1977), "familiarity" with plants in their "natural habitats" (Braidwood 1960),population pressure (Binford 1968; Flannery 1969, 1973; Cohen 1977), broad-spectrumadaptation (Flannery 1969), plant-human symbiosis and co-evolution (Rindos 1984), andsocial differentiation (Bender 1978, 1990; Hayden 1990).1Many of these explanations are quite broad in scope and focus on a single "primemover" which was ultimately responsible for effecting the transition. However, regionalvariations in ecological conditions and in the forms of interaction between humans andthe resources that they exploited limit the usefulness of such explanations for effectivelyaddressing developments in specific regions (Blake et al. 1992a; Flannery 1986;McCorriston and Hole 1991). Rather than ignoring variations from the expectedpatterns, we should investigate these situations on a smaller scale in order to explain howand why they developed. Because the actual developments in each particular case werelikely much more complex than a "prime mover" type of explanation is able to address,several overlapping explanations may be required.Theoretical  perspectiveThe assumptions underlying the following discussion are based on a cultural-ecological perspective. The concern is primarily with the interactions between peopleand plants. Developments in the transition to agriculture are viewed as gradual changesTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 23on an evolutionary continuum, induced by humans manipulating their ecosystems and byhuman adaptation to various ecological and social phenomena. These changes are notinevitable, unidirectional or irreversible; the variability in cultural and ecological systemsfrom one area to another results in a corresponding diversity in the forms of interactionbetween humans and plants.Cultivation,  domestication, agricultureIn considering questions about the nature of the transition to agriculture in any givenregion, we must clarify what we mean by terms such as cultivation, domestication, andagriculture. Confusion resulting from misuse of these terms prevents understanding of theprocesses involved in the transition.While the terms "domesticated" and "cultivated" are often used synonymously, theirmeanings are actually quite different. Cultivation implies activities involved in caring fora plant, such as tilling, fertilizing, sowing, watering, weeding, protecting, transplanting,and harvesting. Domestication, on the other hand, deals with the genetic responses ofthe plant to these human activities (Harlan 1975:63). Whereas one cultivated plant maydiffer little, if at all, from its wild form, another may have undergone major adaptivechanges as a result of cultivation. During the process of domestication, a plant may passthrough numerous intermediary states. If it reaches the state of full domestication,sustained human intervention will have so drastically altered it from its wild state that itcan no longer reproduce without human assistance (ibid. pp.63-64)."Horticulture" is similar in meaning to cultivation. Here, it refers to cultivation in thecontext of small-scale gardening to distinguish it from more intensive field cultivation."Agriculture" is a broad, rather generic term that is often used synonymously withcultivation. Webster's Dictionary (1986:65) defines it as "the science or art of cultivatingthe soil, producing crops, and raising livestock". Here, following Harris (1989:14), itrefers specifically to the cultivation of domesticated crops. Given the fact thatTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 24domestication is a cumulative process, it is sometimes difficult to make absolutedistinctions between domesticated and undomesticated plants. However, this definitionallows us to distinguish between cultivation, which can apply to domesticated orundomesticated plants, and agriculture, which applies only to domesticated plants.Origins  vs.  spread  of  domesticated  plantsIt is also important to distinguish between two related but significantly differentprocesses involved in the transition to agriculture: the origins of domesticated plants, andtheir subsequent spread or diffusion from their place of origin. The initial domesticationof a certain plant would have occurred under a unique set of ecological and culturalcircumstances. As the plant spread to a different area and was introduced to a newgroup of people, the reasons for its adoption might be quite different from the reasons forits original domestication (Blake et al. 1992a:134). In addition, the various roles that theplant played in the subsistence economy of the new group may have been quite differentfrom its original roles.Given these distinctions, it is clear that models generated to explain the gradualdevelopment of local domesticates in a particular area may be inappropriate forexplaining how and why such domesticates spread to different areas and weresubsequently adopted by other human groups.RESEARCH OBJECTIVESOur current knowledge of the prehistoric subsistence economy in the Mazatan areais limited, especially in terms of the nature and degree of cultivation practices. Withoutsome basic data, it is premature and difficult to develop and attempt to test specifichypotheses. The objective of this study is therefore more concerned with providing datafrom this relatively unstudied area which can be used to generate hypotheses to be testedby future research. The working hypothesis is therefore quite general, but it raises someTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 25important questions that guide the study and may help to generate more specifichypotheses.HypothesisThe general hypothesis is that some cultivation — and perhaps domestication — ofindigenous food plants was an important component of the subsistence economy andwas occurring prior to the adoption of non-local domesticated food plants such as maize.As noted in Chapter One, ecological and archaeological data indicate that a wide varietyof wild plants and animals were available for exploitation by early inhabitants of theMazatan area. This suggests that a correspondingly diverse set of subsistence strategieswould have been practiced. While fishing and hunting were apparently importantpursuits (Flannery and Mudar 1991; Blake et al. 1992a), the abundance and diversity ofedible food plants indigenous to this area make it highly unlikely that the gathering orharvesting of wild plants would not also have played an important role in the domesticeconomy. It would not have been a big step — nor would it have required a great dealof sophisticated horticultural knowledge — to begin "helping" or favoring certain speciesby pulling weeds, watering, transplanting closer to home, or fertilizing.It seems improbable that at least some basic cultivation techniques were not beingpracticed on indigenous lowland food plants from a very early date. A well-establishedregime of plant cultivation would have enhanced the likelihood that introduced non-localdomesticates would be more readily accepted and adapted to the local conditions.Ethnohistoric documents (eg. Acuria 1982) for the Soconusco area at the time of theSpanish conquest suggest a pattern of mixed subsistence economies, with fishing,hunting, and plant collecting occurring hand-in-hand with plant cultivation in gardens,orchards and forests (Clark n.d.). While these practices were documented 3000 yearsafter the period of primary interest here, there is a good possibility that they were alsooccurring by the Early Formative period when our first evidence for agriculture occurs.TRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 26Research questionsThis hypothesis raises several questions that direct this study. First, which indigenouslowland food plants were being used by the Early Formative inhabitants of the Mazatanarea? To what degree were cultivation techniques being practiced and local plantdomestication occurring? How can we best explain the origins of agriculture in thistropical lowland area?Second, which non-local domesticated food plants were adopted, and when? Whatwere the conditions under which this process occurred? Which models can help usunderstand how and why the adoption of these new domesticates took place?Third, is there any relationship between these agricultural developments and thesociopolitical changes that appear to have occurred around the same time? Socialcomplexity has been viewed as a consequence of the development of agriculture at leastsince the Enlightenment period in Europe, when Rousseau linked the disappearance ofequality with the economic surpluses, increased populations, and notion of privateproperty that accompanied the emergence of food production (Rousseau 1755, cited inSmith 1976). Recent research suggests that we should perhaps reconsider this scenario.Hayden (1990), for example, argues that social inequality was not a consequence ofagriculture but actually stimulated the emergence of food production. In some areas,social complexity certainly appears to have developed in the absence of agricultural-based economies.' What happened in the Mazatan area?It is clear that a general, all-encompassing model will be inadequate for addressingthis complex situation, where some cultivation of local food plants was likely alreadyoccurring when non-local domesticates were introduced and adopted. If there was asequential nature to the development of the local agricultural process, as the hypothesisimplies, then we must seek explanations that apply to each stage of the sequence — tothe origins of cultivation practices and plant domestication in the Mazatan area, to theadoption of non-local domesticates and to the development of sociopolitical complexity.TRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 27LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MAZATAN AREAHow can we best explain the development from the gathering of wild plants to theirdeliberate cultivation — and possibly domestication — in the Mazatan area? If this "zoneof plenty" (Blake et al. 1992a:135) provided such a wide range of naturally-occurring andproductive plant (and animal) foods throughout the year, it is unlikely that people wereforced to turn to food production, especially since the first significant populationincreases in the area probably did not occur until well after cultivation practices hadbegun (Clark and Blake 1993). What, then, were the incentives for developingcultivation practices? Below, I discuss some possible reasons. Examples from othertropical areas provide some insights, or at least points of departure for these speculations.One incentive may have been related to nutrition. In the Mazatan area, as notedabove, animal resources appear to have contributed a great deal to the diet. Thecollection and/or cultivation of starchy, carbohydrate-rich plants may have occurred tosupplement a diet that was rich in protein. While various local plants may have beenable to provide the necessary starch, roots and tubers may have been especiallyimportant. These highly productive plants can be planted at almost any time andharvested when needed, since they can remain in the ground for more than two years(Bronson 1966:271). Through their ability to store starch in their roots, they are welladapted to survive extended dry periods (Harris 1969:10). Bronson (1966) suggests thatthese characteristics resulted in the utilization of root crops such as manioc and sweetpotatoes by the lowland Maya early in the Preclassic period. It not unlikely that theywere also being cultivated, and possibly domesticated, in the Mazatan area prior to theEarly Formative period. Hawkes (1989:482) writes that such crops originatednot in the rain forests, where continual humidity allows year-roundvegetative growth, and there is no strong natural selection favouring thedevelopment of underground storage organs, but in the summer-green rainforests and woodlands with a well-marked dry season where thedevelopment of underground starchy food reserves helps the plant tosurvive the dry season and to regenerate quickly when the rain returns.TRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 28The pronounced dry season of the Pacific coast of southern Chiapas places it withinthe area delineated by Hawkes (1989, map p.483) as a possible place of origin for sixdistinct species of root and tuber crops. These are Manihot esculenta (cassava, manioc,yuca), Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato, camote), Dioscorea trifida (Indian yam, yampee),Maranta arundinacea (arrowroot, ereu), Xanthosoma sagittifoliurn  (coco-yam, malanga),and Dalathea allouia. Most of these probably have their origins in South America, butmanioc may have been first domesticated in the dry Pacific coast area of Mexico andCentral America (Hawkes 1989:487-91; Rogers 1962,1963). Unfortunately, this isdifficult to substantiate, because few archaeological remains have preserved. Nor canphytolith analysis provide much assistance, since roots such as manioc, sweet potato andyam deposit little or no silica in vegetative tissue and are unlikely to be recovered fromarchaeological contexts (Pearsall 1989:343; Piperno 1985b).Another incentive for cultivation may have been to compensate for seasonal gaps inthe availability of some foods, or for decreased resource availability due to environmentalperturbations. Detailed studies have yet to be carried out on the seasonality andavailability of the numerous plant and animal species in the area, but in general thereappears to be little seasonal variation in the availability of most species (Blake et al.1992a:138). This may, however, be more true for animal species than for plants, sincethe pronounced wet and dry seasons mean that many plant species would flower andproduce fruit only at certain times of the year. Moreover, even normally-dependableresources can occasionally fail. Avocados, for example, are prone to alternate bearingand often fail to produce satisfactory crops, even under apparently favorableenvironmental conditions (Hodgson 1950:258). Under unfavorable conditions, such asabnormally low precipitation in the wet season, other food plants would produce loweryields as well.Cultivation techniques may therefore have been performed to encourage growth andproductivity of: 1) plants that produced fruit which could be stored for consumptionTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 29during periods when it would otherwise be unavailable; or 2) plants that produced fruitin periods when other desired plant foods were unavailable. The latter may have beenaccomplished by planting in bajos. As noted in Chapter Two, this would have extendedsoil moisture conditions well into the dry season, allowing cultivators to overcome someof the limitations imposed by coastal rainfall regimes.A third incentive may have been convenience. In recent years, a great deal ofscholarly attention has been directed toward the study of fixed-plot horticulture ( "kitchengardens"), which involves the long-term cultivation of small garden plots adjacent to thecultivators' homes (Harris 1973:398). Permanent gardens producing useful plants (forfood, medicine, construction materials, shade, etc.) in immediate proximity to thehousehold compound would provide diversity and seasonal spread in an efficient andnon-labor-intensive way. Selective harvesting, transplanting and other cultivationtechniques could replicate forest diversity in small areas close to the householdcompound, eliminating the need to go farther into the forest to collect and harvest.Netting (1977) describes fixed-plot horticulture in the Pacific coastal region ofNicoya, Costa Rica. Like Wiseman's (1978) "artificial rain forest", these highly-productivegardens consist of several levels of plants from which non-favored species have beeneliminated. The more shade-tolerant herbaceous, bush and twining plants are situatedbelow the larger fruit trees. Fertilizing with household wastes creates a high organiccontent which, with the shade provided by the upper canopy, helps retain soil moisture.The proximity of these gardens to the household means that less travel time is required,crops can be easily protected from predators, and harvesting of produce can occurselectively, as required by household needs. In their study of the ethnobotany in thePuuc region of Yucatan, Smith and Cameron (1977) found that primary subsistence crops(such as maize, beans and squash) were grown in the more distant milpa, but the greatervariety of foodstuffs (mainly cooking herbs and fruit such as papaya, guava, lime, zapote,chirirrioya, mango, avocado, nance, chayote, and breadnut) came from the gardensTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 30adjacent to the house.The variable of social complexity introduces another dimension to the discussion andsuggests other possible reasons for the development of cultivation practices. Ifsociopolitical inequities were emerging at this time, it is likely that there was at leastsome degree of controlled access to favored resource areas, through habitual use if notby actual claims of status. Individuals who had less social or political clout in terms ofaccess to preferred natural resources, or those who would have been last in line toreceive resources that may not always have occurred in quantities sufficient for the wholecommunity, may have cultivated certain plant species as alternative food sources. In thearchaeological record, low-status contexts would be expected to display a higher cultigenubiquity and a lower frequency of other local resources than high-status contexts.Conversely, some species may initially have been cultivated for use as securityresources by people who had a vested interest in maintaining a continual supply ofresources. In many small-scale societies, sociopolitical inequality derives from unequalgift-giving, where self-interested individuals can develop and maintain prestige by givingmore than they receive, often in competitive feasts and similar displays of status (Clarkand Blake 1993; Fried 1967; Gosden 1989; Mauss 1967). Successful social display andcompetition, necessary for the long-term maintenance of status, require uninterruptedexploitation of a reliable, productive resource base with which to build up surpluses.Unexpected shortages at a crucial time could spell disaster for an aspiring elite if supportwas transferred to a more reliable source. Cultivation of certain plant species could haveprovided a means of maintaining the necessary level of surplus for competitive purposesduring occasional gaps in the availability of preferred resources. Species that could bestored for extended periods would probably have been especially attractive.The preceding paragraphs address the question of why people began to cultivate thenaturally-occurring food plants in the Mazatan area. We are also interested in how thisprocess occurred. Instead of a rapid and complete switch from collecting to cultivating, ITRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 31visualize a gradual progression in which people first began to tend and encourage someof the useful root and tree crops that they were collecting, through simple practices suchas weeding, composting, and pest control. More complicated and deliberate practices,such as selective harvesting, soil preparation and transplanting, eventually culminated inthe deliberate planting of some favored crops for the reasons discussed above. Some ofthese plants would eventually become domesticated through continued humanmanipulation of their reproductive systems, and others would remain closer to their wildforms. Adoption of non-local cultigens, domesticated or not, could have taken placeanytime during this process.ADOPTION OF NON-LOCAL DOMESTICATESExtant archaeological data indicate that at least one domesticated highland crop —maize — was being used by the Barra phase (1550-1400 B.C.)3. With the resource baseas characterized above, one must wonder why this and other non-local plants (such asbeans, if they were non-local) were adopted, and what role they played in thesubsistence economy in the early period of their use. The following passage from Blakeet al. (1992a:136) provides a point of departure for discussion of these questions:Were domesticates, such as maize, staples during this early period or werethey merely supplements? Were they incorporated as part of expandingsystems of sociopolitical inequality, or were they regular parts of the dietconsumed by people regardless of emerging status differentiation?If these imported domesticates were rapidly adopted as new dietary staples, we mightassume that: 1) the existing subsistence base was in some sense insecure or lackedsomething that the new domesticates had to offer, or 2) the new domesticates were moreproductive and it made economic sense to change the old system in their favor.As described above, the resource base appears to have provided an abundance anddiversity of wild plant and animal foods. It therefore seems unlikely that the newdomesticates would have been adopted out of pure necessity. Even if the resource baseTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 32was insecure, it is questionable whether major innovations in food production techniqueswould occur, since these inevitably involve some level of risk and are generally notundertaken in periods of resource stress or unless the innovator is in a position to absorbthe possible losses (Cancian 1979; Wills 1992).On the other hand, it is quite possible that the new domesticates provided somethingthat the old system lacked. Maize is a good source of carbohydrates, and beans are thehighest source of plant protein. Together, the two form a complementary and fairlycomplete nutritional complex. However, if root crops or other local starchy plant foodswere being utilized, carbohydrates would not have been lacking, and the wide variety offaunal resources would presumably have supplied sufficient protein to meet dietaryneeds.If the new domesticates were more productive' and/or desirable than the existingstaple plant foods, their adoption as primary staples would make more sense. Maize,however, may not have been very productive for much of the Early Formative period,given the small size of the cob fragments recovered from sites in the area to date. Untilsize and nutritional yield had been increased by genetic changes or more productivevarieties had been introduced from other areas, it is questionable whether maize wouldhave functioned as a dietary staple. This is supported by stable carbon isotope datawhich indicate that maize was not a significant dietary component in the Mazatan areaduring the Early Formative period (Blake et al. 1992b). Beans, on the other hand, mayhave played a more important dietary role following their adoption into the existingsubsistence regime. In addition to their protein value, they provide about the samecaloric value as cereals (Heiser 1981:127).If either or both of these new domesticates were adopted as dietary staples, wewould expect the recovered remains to demonstrate that they had passed the threshold ofmarginal productivity (eg. seed size and maize cob size should be relatively large) andsuch remains should be ubiquitous. Unless there was differential consumption of theseTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 33cultigens, this ubiquity should extend evenly across all contexts. In addition, analysis ofthe archaeological plant remains should reflect a greater reliance on these non-localdomesticates than on local wild or domesticated plants.If these non-local domesticates were adopted and used not as primary staples but asdietary supplements, the incentives for such use may have been similar to thosediscussed above for the cultivation of local plants — to create greater diversity, to providenutritional balance to the diet, or to fill seasonal gaps in the availability of some foods. Ifthese people were already cultivating local plants, the accomodation of the new crops tothe existing horticultural regime would have been a low-cost option. Such occasionaluse of maize, at least, would explain the dietary patterns implied by the results of thestable carbon isotope analyses.In their model for the emergence for social inequality in the Mazatan area, Clark andBlake (1993) suggest that these domesticates were imported from external regions asspecial items designed to increase competitive advantage and social status during aperiod of emerging sociopolitical inequality. In particular, they suggest that they mayhave been imported for use as social leverage in competitive displays such as feasting.As Hayden (1990:36) suggests,one of the most important characteristics of these feasts is that highlydesirable, rare, valuable, and often labor intensive foods or delicacies (tooeffort demanding for daily consumption) are employed to impress guestcompetitors with the host's wealth and power, and to increase themagnitude of the debts incurred by the guests.Clark and Blake (1989, 1993) suggest that maize may have been used, initially, formaking chicha, an alcoholic beverage with prestige value that could have been used infeasting contexts. Alternately, it could have been mixed with chocolate in atole, anotherbeverage with ritual significance. The social practice of drinking is well-documented intraditional small-scale societies (Douglas 1987) and archaeological evidence suggests thatit was an important component of competitive feasting in prehistoric times as wellTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 34(Dietler 1990; Moore 1989).This suggestion has several archaeological implications. First, maize and beans werenot primary staples; they were introduced into a mixed subsistence economy whichprobably included fishing, hunting, and the collection and possibly cultivation of plantfoods. Analysis of the archaeological plant remains from early contexts should reflect agreater reliance on local plants than on these non-local domesticates.Second, archaeological evidence for non-local domesticates should first appearduring the Barra phase, when the first indications of inequality begin to emerge (Blakeand Clark 1992; Clark and Blake 1993).Third, evidence for these plants would presumably be found primarily in high-statuscontexts, at least for the period immediately following their introduction. However, if thecompetitors were regaling these products upon their supporters, then this distinctionwould not be valid and a fairly even spatial distribution of these archaeobotanicalremains should occur.Fourth, if maize was consumed initially in the form of a beverage, we might findmaterial evidence for its preparation and consumption. In his study of the pre-Hispanicproduction of chicha in coastal Peru, Moore (1989) outlines the archaeological correlatesfor the three basic steps in the chicha-making process. For the first step, in which themaize is malted to convert its starch into sugar, we might expect to recover maize cobs,vessels for soaking the kernels, areas for germinating the kernels, the germinated kernels(jora) and milling stones for grinding the jora. The second stage involves cooking thej_QL1 and might be indicated by hearths, fire-altered vessels, stirring utensils and charcoal.In the final stage, the liquid is separated from the by-products. Material indicators of thisprocess might include sieves and the by-products (small fragments of malted kernels andtheir outer skins). Evidence for the actual preparation of chicha should be found in ornear the domestic structures, where this activity likely took place. Ethnographicdescriptions of drinking in small-scale societies suggest that while the primary consumersTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 35of such beverages are men, women frequently provide the raw material and do thebrewing (Dietler 1990:364)5.The final step — consumption — is indicated by containers used for this purpose.Underhill (1990) observes that in chiefdom societies, displays of largesse or generosityinvolve prestige vessels, which are distinct from everyday food storage, preparation andconsumption vessels. They involve more intensive labor in their construction andsymbolize the wealth and status of the giver. The fancy tecomates typical of the Barraceramic assemblage would be suitable for serving chicha if straws were used, a practicewhich has been documented ethnographically among the Tiriki in Kenya (Katz andVoight 1986, Fig.6a). These vessels are thought to have replaced containers of perishablematerials, such as elaborately decorated gourds, which were used for these specialpurposes before ceramic technology was introduced to the area (Clark and Blake 1993).Ethnographic studies have reported the use of decorated gourds for the consumption ofchicha and other beverages (Cobo 1956:242; Hayden and Cannon 1984, Figs. 99-100).If chicha was being made on a regular basis, the by-products would presumably bevisible archaeologically, although the degree of visibility would depend on factors suchas the method and location of deposition and the degree of preservation. Moore's(1989:687) calculations indicate that the production of 25 liters of chicha requiresapproximately 100 kg of i_Qta and results in 60 kg of by-products. However, if the earlymaize in the Mazatan area was small and relatively unproductive, the production ofchicha may have been an infrequent event, or it may have involved much smallerquantities, leaving less archaeological evidence. In either case, its rarity may have madechicha a special and valued commodity.If maize was introduced to the Mazatan area as a novel item to be used forcompetitive purposes by political aspirants, it probably would not have taken long for therest of the population to obtain access to kernels for their own cultivation and use. Whileit would likely have continued being used as an ingredient in special beverages, its moreTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 36common usage in the subsistence economy would extend the methods by which it wasprocessed and prepared for general consumption. It may have been roasted, popped orotherwise prepared near the hearth, increasing its chances for long-term preservation.Maize remains should therefore be increasingly ubiquitous over time in thearchaeological record, in both elite and non-elite contexts.This discussion has focused almost exclusively on maize. What about beans, theother domesticate that appears in archaeological deposits at this time? Clark and Blakesuggest that, like maize, this domesticated cultigen may also have been adopted as asumptuary good to be used for advantage in competitive feasting. The implication is thatbeans would have been associated primarily with aspiring elites during the early periodand would have become more widespread as the novelty wore off and as access to thembecame more generally available. This hypothesis rests, of course, on the assumptionthat beans were not domesticated locally. Because the specific area(s) of their originaldomestication are not strongly supported by botanical evidence, it must be regardedsomewhat cautiously.Again, we must consider the idea discussed above that in order to maintain prestigeand status over time, it would have been essential to maintain a continual supply ofresources which could be used for competitive feasting and display. If maize and beanswere not initially adopted as specialty items to be used for these competitive purposes,they may have functioned instead as storeable security resources for people who couldnot risk losing their supporters through unexpected resource shortages.SUMMARYThe hypothesis that guides this study is that people in the Mazatan area werecultivating and perhaps domesticating local food plants prior to the introduction of non-local domesticates. It is by necessity very general, given the paucity of available dataconcerning subsistence practices in the Mazatan area. The research questions that itTRANSITIONS TO AGRICULTURE/ 37generates focus on 1) the origins of local cultivation practices of indigenous plant species,and 2) the adoption of non-local domesticated species. It is proposed that the formeroccurred as a gradual progression from simple to more deliberate cultivation practices offavored plant species for reasons related to nutrition, availability, efficiency and/or thedevelopment of food surpluses. The adoption of non-local domesticates — for use asdietary staples or as supplements to the local subsistence economy — may have occurredfor similar reasons. Alternately, it may have occurred for reasons related to emergingsociopolitical inequality. The analysis of archaeological plant remains from sites in theMazatan area was carried out in an attempt to test these ideas. The analysis and resultsare described in the following chapter.NOTES1. For reviews of these models, see Cohen (1977), Flannery (1986), Gebauer and Price(1992), Redding (1988), Rindos (1984), and Wright (1971).2. Well-known examples include the chiefdoms of the Northwest Coast (Coupland 1988;Matson 1983) and southwest Florida (Widmer 1988) and the Natufians of the Levant(Henry 1989).3. Beans were also likely domesticated in highland areas, but there is no strong evidencepointing to a specific point of origin. This is discussed at more length in Chapter Five.4. "Productive" is, of course, a relative term, and is usually measured in terms of yieldper area under cultivation or per unit of labor expended. Here, it is used in anadmittedly general sense, since no figures are available for comparative purposes. Itshould be noted that, as Harlan (1975:138) points out, high yield is seldom a factor intraditional agriculture; what is more important is consistence and reliability.5. In more complex societies, chicha production apparently occurred in different socialcontexts and by specialized producers. Cobo (1956:232-233) describes a group of"chosen women" (mamakuna) who brewed the beverage under the economic support ofthe Inka state. On the Peruvian coast, male chicheros specialized in chicha productionto the exclusion of all other economic activities (Rostworowski 1977, 1978, cited inMoore 1989:688)..^ 38CHAPTER THREEDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSISINTRODUCTIONThe questions outlined in the preceding chapter are directly related to the use oflocal and non-local plant foods by the Early Formative residents of the area. The analysisof preserved plant remains from that period is therefore likely to yield unique informationrelevant to these questions. As indicated in Chapter One, paleoethnobotany is one of themost direct means of addressing questions related to prehistoric subsistence and plantuse. While total dietary reconstruction is obviously impossible, an examination ofarchaeological plant remains has the potential to provide important substantive dataconcerning ancient agricultural and subsistence practices.In particular, the identification of specific plants from Early Formative sites in theMazatan area will help in the reconstruction of the subsistence economy by allowing usto determine which plant foods were at least present, and probably being used. It mayalso give some indication of the level of cultivation that was occurring, both of local andnon-local plant foods. The morphological characteristics of the macroremains can help indetermining the state of a domestication of a plant at the time of its use. If avocadoseeds, for example, are consistently smaller than modern domestic species and moresimilar to local wild species, they probably had not come under full domestication. Bystudying temporal distributions of plant remains, we have some basis for assessing thehypothesis that the Mokaya were cultivating local plants prior to their adoption of non-local domesticates. Analysis of the ubiquity of macroremains in different chronologicalcontexts can also provide some indication of changes through time in the use of certaincultigens. The comparison of spatial distributions of plant remains from contextsdisplaying differential social status may provide clues about whether differentialconsumption of specific cultigens was occurring. Such information could have importantimplications for questions related to the emergence of social inequality.DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 39To date, no substantive analysis of plant remains from archaeological contexts in theMazatan area has been carried out. Our current understanding of subsistence practicesin the Early Formative period is growing as a result of faunal analyses, chemical analysesof human bone, and so on. However, as noted in the two preceding chapters, many keyissues remain unresolved. The present study is an attempt to fill some of these gaps inour understanding.Nature  of_the  data analyzed  .Litiii,5_51u_dyCategories of data currently employed in paleoethnobotanical studies include pollen,phytoliths, and macroremains. In this analysis, the focus is on macroremains, which arecharred, dessicated or waterlogged plant remains that are visible to the naked eye andlarge enough to be identified at low-power magnification (Pearsall 1989:15). Because itis unlikely that non-carbonized plant remains will have preserved over millennia in thetropical climate of the Mazatan area, any non-carbonized materials were assumed to bemodern and were eliminated from the sample.Sources  of  bias  in  paleoethnobotanical analysisThe interpretation of plant distributions in archaeological contexts is somewhatproblematical, because carbonized macroremains are not preserved in predictableproportion to the quantities in which they were used (Roosevelt 1984:12). The botanicalmaterial that ends up in the lab probably represents only a very small and biased sampleof the original assemblage, making quantification and statistical analysis problematical(see Chapter Four). Any interpretations must take into consideration such factors as thephysical and preservational properties of individual plant species, the frequency andmethods of their use and disposal, characteristics of the surrounding soil matrix, and post-depositional site disturbance. Techniques of data recovery and analysis can alsointroduce bias to the sample (Popper and Hastorf 1988:5). In the following sections, IDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 40describe the methods used in this project for the recovery of macroremains from theirarchaeological contexts and for their subsequent laboratory analysis.DATA RECOVERY TECHNIQUESThe botanical material that is analyzed in this project was recovered fromarchaeological deposits at four sites in the Mazatan area: Aquiles Serdan, Paso de laAmada, Chilo, and San Carlos. The excavations were carried out over three field seasonsin 1985 and 1990 (Clark et al. 1987, 1990) and some variation inevitably occurred inrecovery and processing techniques.The primary method of data recovery was flotation of soil samples collected fromexcavation units. However, in situ collections were made during excavation when largeseeds or concentrations of seeds were observed in the matrix, and plant remains werealso occasionally collected from excavated material that was dry-screened through 1/4inch mesh. In general, few plant remains were recovered through these methods andflotation techniques were used to systematically recover more representative samples.During excavation, soil samples for flotation were routinely collected from featureslikely to contain preserved macroremains, such as hearths and middens. They were alsocollected when charred plant material was observed in the matrix. Because of thevariable nature of the contexts from which the samples were collected, there was nostandardized sample size.Unlike in situ and screen recovery, water flotation techniques permit the recovery ofall size classes of plant material, thereby enhancing the quantity and range of materialsthat can be recovered archaeologically. They are based on the principal that differencesin density cause organic remains to separate from the inorganic soil matrix within a bodyof liquid. The flotation system used in this project is an adaptation of Struever's (1968)Apple Creek or manual "tub" system (see Figure 3.1). In this system, a soil sample isimmersed in water and the organic material floats to the surface and is scooped off. Thesiphon hoselight fractionhand sieveflotation tubwater tank — heavy fractionsedimentDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 41flotation equipment used in this project consisted of three main items:1. A large metal tank which served as a water reservoir. A release valve in theconstricted opening at the base allowed the removal of water and accumulated sludge.2. A smaller flotation tub, which was a round galvanized steel washtub with the bottomcut out and replaced with screen. The tub was attached to a fitted iron bracket whichsupported the tub's screen bottom and which could be hooked over the rim of the tank,allowing the tub to rest partially immersed in the water. In the 1985 season, 1.0 mmwindow screen was used for the flotation tub; in 1990, 0.5 mm mesh was used in orderto capture smaller botanical remains.3. A hand sieve used to capture floating material (the light fraction) from the flotationtub. This sieve was constructed by attaching 0.5 mm wire mesh to a metal hoop.Figure 3.1 Diagram of flotation system equipment.DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 42The flotation procedure was carried out by two operators. The flotation tub waspartially immersed in the tank, which was filled with water. While one person manuallyagitated the water in the tub, the other slowly poured in the dried soil sample andscooped off the floating material. This light fraction was deposited on newspaper to dry.When all visible floating material was collected, the tub was removed from the water andthe heavy fraction (the non-floating material captured by the screen bottom) wasdeposited on newspaper. When dry, both fractions were bagged and labelled.This flotation system was of limited success during the 1985 field season, since littleorganic material actually floated (Michael Blake, personal communication). This couldbe due to several factors, such as failure to allow soil samples to dry completely beforefloating them, pouring soil into the water too rapidly, or not achieving sufficient agitationof the water during pouring (Pearsall 1989:51). Consequently, the entire heavy fractionand saved and was later sorted or scanned for botanical materials in the lab.In 1990, we had greater success in recovering a light fraction, but we observed that alarge amount of charcoal was floating well below the surface. We were able to capturemuch of this sub-surface floating material by using a 1/2 inch clear plastic hose to siphonthe water from the tub through the hand scoop, a method similar to one described byGumerman and Umemoto (1987) (see Figure 3.1). This improved the recovery rate,although some charcoal was still observed in the heavy fraction.The interpretation of recovered plant remains requires knowing the volume of soilthat was floated (Pearsall 1989:98; Wagner 1988:29). Such information was notconsistently recorded for each sample in either of the field seasons. This oversight makescomparisons more difficult and limits the options available for data quantification (seeChapter Four).DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 43SAMPLE SELECTIONA total of 187 samples was recovered from seven different sites during the 1985 and1990 excavations. For the present analysis, I selected samples from the four sites whichpromised to yield information most relevant to the research problems underconsideration. The criteria which guided this selection were: 1) location of sites insimilar environmental zones, so that differences in patterning of the data will more likelyreflect changes in plant use than differences in site settings; 2) chronological depth, sothat changes in plant distributions and characteristics over time might be detected; and 3)availability of numerous flotation samples for analysis. Aquiles Serdan, Paso de laAmada, Chilo, and San Carlos met these criteria, and the following analysis is based on147 samples from excavations at these sites (see Tables 3.1 and 3.2). Samples withunknown or mixed temporal proveniences were omitted, as was one sample that datedto the Post-Classic period.Table 3.1. Summary of analyzed samples.Site No. ofsamplesPhasesrepresentedNo. of samplesper phaseAquiles Serclan 83 Cuadros 14Cherla 19OcOs 50Paso de la Amada 34 Cherla 1Oci5s 8Locona 23Barra 2Chilo 17 Cherla 3OcOs 2Locona 12San Carlos 13 Jocotal 2Locona 5Barra 6Total 147 147DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 44Table 3.2. Key to sample numbers.SampleNo. Site Provenience Context Phase1 A.S. P.1, L.6 Cherla2 A.S. P.1, L.9, F.5 sand floor OcOs3 A.S. P.1, L.10 OcOs4 A.S. P.1, L.11, F.12 sand floor OcOs5 A.S. P.1, L.12 dark stain OcOs7 A.S. P.1A, L.3 Cuadros8 A.S. P.1A, L.4 Cuadros9 A.S. P.1A, L.5 Cuadros10 A.S. P.1A, L.6 Cherla11 A.S. P.1A, L.7 Cherla12 A.S. P.1A, L.8, F.6 midden Cherla13 A.S. P.1A, L.9, F.6 midden Cherla15 A.S. P.1A, L.10, F.6 midden Cherla17 A.S. P.1A, L.11, F.6 midden Cherla19 A.S. P.1A, L.12, F.6 midden Cherla20 A.S. P.1A, L.13, E.6 midden Cherla21 A.S. P.1A, L.13 OcOs22 A.S. P.1B, L.4 Cuadros23 A.S. P.1B, L.5 yellow soil Cuadros24 A.S. P.1B, L.5 dark soil Cuadros25 A.S. P.1B, L.6 Cuadros26 A.S. P.1B, L.7, F.6 midden Cherla27 A.S. P.1B, L.8, F.5 sand floor OcOs28 A.S. P.1B, L.8, F.6 midden Cherla29 A.S. P.1B, L.9, F.5 sand floor OcOs30 A.S. P.1B, L.10, F.6 midden Cherla31 A.S. P.1B, L.11, F.5 sand floor OcOs32 A.S. P.1B, L.11, F.6 midden Cherla33 A.S. P.1B, L.12, F.6 midden Cherla34 A.S. P.1B, L.12, F.16 dark soil OcOs35 A.S. P.1B, L.12 OcOs36 A.S. P.1B, L.13, F.12 OcOs37 A.S. P.1B, L.14, F.6 midden Cherla38 A.S. P.1B, L.15, F.6 midden Cherla39 A.S. P.1B, L.16, F.6 midden Cherla40 A.S. P.1B, L.17, F.6 midden Cherla41 A.S. P.1C, L.3 Cuadros42 A.S. P.1C, L.4 Cuadros43 A.S. P.1C, L.6 Cherla44 A.S. P.1C, L.7, F.5 floor OcOs45 A.S. P.1C, L.8, F.5 floor OcOs46 A.S. P.1C, L.9, F.5 floor OcOs49 A.S. P.1C, L.12, F.12 OcOsDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 45Table 3.2. Key to sample numbers.SampleNo. Site Provenience ContextPhase50 A.S. P.1C, L.12, F.13 OcOs51 A.S. P.1C, L.13, F.12 OcOs52 A.S. P.2, L.5 hearth OcOs53 A.S. P.2, L.7 OcOs54 A.S. P.2-3, L.3 OcOs55 A.S. P.2-3, F.2 small pit OcOs56 A.S. P.3, L.3, F.3 refuse pit Occis155 A.S. P.6, L.13 Occis57 A.S. TR.1A, L.6 sub-midden soil Cuadros58 A.S. TR.1A, L.16 OcOs59 A.S. TR.1A, L.17, F.1 refuse pit OcOs60 A.S. TR.1A, L.17 yellow soil OcOs61 A.S. TR.1A, L.18, F.1 OcOs62 A.S. TR.1C, L.8 Cuadros63 A.S. TR.1C, L.16 OcOs64 A.S. TR.1C, L.17 post-holes Occis65 A.S. TR.1C, L.18 OcOs66 A.S. TR.1C, L.18, F.1 refus OcOs67 A.S. TR.1E, L.7 Cuadros68 A.S. TR.1E, L.8 Cuadros69 A.S. TR.1E, L.12 Occis70 A.S. TR.1E, L.13 OcOs71 A.S. TR.1E, L.14 OcOs72 A.S. TR.1E, L.15 OcOs73 A.S. TR.1E, L.16 dark stain Occis74 A.S. TR.1E, L.18 post-hole OcOs153 A.S. TR.1E, L.19 OcOs75 A.S. TR.1G, L.13 OcOs76 A.S. TR.1G, L.14 OcOs77 A.S. TR.1G, L.15 OcOs78 A.S. TR.1G, L.17 post-holes OcOs79 A.S. TR.1G, L.18 OcOs80 A.S. TR.1G, L.19 OcOs81 A.S. TR.11, L.18 OcOs82 A.S. TR.1K, L.5 Cuadros83 A.S. TR.1K, L.15 OcOs84 A.S. TR.1K, L.16 OcOs85 A.S. TR.1K, L.18 OcOs86 A.S. TR.1K, L.19 OcOs154 A.S. TR.1K, Burial 1 burial OcOs87 Paso MD.6,1-24, L.8 Locona88 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 2 Floor 4 Locona89 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 6 Floor 4 LoconaDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 46Table 3.2. Key to sample numbers.SampleNo. Site Provenience ContextPhase90 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 7 post-hole/Floor 4 Locona91 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 9 post-hole/Floor 4 Locona92 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 11 Locona93 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 12 Locona94 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 14 Locona95 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 26 Locona96 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 36 Locona97 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 37 Locona98 Paso MD.6, L.9, Lot 37 ash lens Locona101 Paso MD.6, TR.1, Str.4 below sand OcOs102 Paso MD.7, P.1, L.8 Barra103 Paso MD.7, P.1, L.11 Barra125 Paso MD.6, L.3, F-21 Floor 3 Locona129 Paso MD.6, A-25, L.16 Locona130 Paso MD.6, A-25, L.19 Locona131 Paso MD.6, E-23, L.3 Floor 2 Locona132 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.5 fill OcOs133 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.9 OcOs134 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.12 Occis135 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.13 OcOs136 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.16 OcOs137 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.17 OcOs138 Paso MD.6, E-28, L.18 oven? OcOs139 Paso MD.6, G-22, L.5 fill Locona142 Paso MD.6, G-26, L.5 fill Locona144 Paso MD.6, H-25, L.17 midden Locona145 Paso MD.6, 1-23, L.2 burned soil Locona147 Paso MD.6, J-24, L.3 Locona148 Paso MD.6, J-26, L.5 fill Locona149 Paso MD.6, K-21, L.16 Locona151 Paso P.25, L.5 fill Cherla104 S.C. P.1, Lot 2 Barra105 S.C. P.1, Lot 3 Barra152 S.C. P.2, L.42, F.2 hearth Barra107 S.C. P.5, F.8 hearth Barra108 S.C. P.5, F.9 pit with hearth Barra109 S.C. P.7, Floor 1 Floor 1 Locona111 S.C. P.7, F.4 Locona112 S.C. P.12, Lot 13 Barra113 S.C. P.14, Str.2 Jocotal114 S.C. P.14, Str.3 Jocotal116 S.C. P.14, Str.9 Locona118 S.C. P.17, Lot 5 LoconaDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 47Table 3.2. Key to sample numbers.SampleNo. Site Provenience Context Phase119 S.C. P.20, Sub-floor 1 Locona162 Chilo P.1, L.4 Cherla163 Chilo P.1, L.5, F.1 OcOs164 Chilo P.1, Ext.SE, L.2 dark soil Cherla165 Chilo P.1^profiles, F.1 midden Occis170 Chilo P.2A, L.4 midden Locona171 Chilo P.2A, L.5 midden Locona172 Chilo P.3, L.11, F.1 Locona173 Chilo P.3, L.15 midden Locona174 Chilo P.4, L.5 Cherla178 Chilo P.4A, L.13 Locona179 Chilo P.4A, L.15 midden Locona180 Chilo P.4A, L.17 midden Locona181 Chilo P.4B, L.12 midden Locona182 Chilo P.4B, L.13 midden Locona183 Chilo P.4B, L.14 midden Locona186 Chilo P.5, L.8 dark soil Locona187 Chilo P.5, L.12 midden LoconaA.S. = Aquiles Serddn^T. = Test pit^MD. = MoundPaso = Paso de la Amada^L. = Level Str. = StratumS.C. = San Carlos^F. = Feature^Ext. = ExtensionTR. = TrenchDescription  sIsitesThe site of Aquiles Serclan is located in an agricultural area about 2 km northeast ofthe ejido of the same name (see Figure 1.2). It is approximately 12 ha in area andconsists of a large mound that rises 2-3 m above the surrounding plain. The Cantilenaswamp is about 3 km to the west, and the Pumpuapa River is about the same distance tothe north. Excavations in 1985 (Clark et al. 1987) produced Occis and Cherla phasehouse and midden deposits and revealed a long occupation of the site.Paso de la Amada is a large village site located on agricultural land 2 km west of theejido of Buenos Aires. It consists of a series of low mounds or elevated areas spreadDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 48over 1 square km of coastal plain. There is no permanent source of water, but seasonallyinundated bajos or old river channels would probably have held water for most of theyear. Excavations at Paso de la Amada point to a large residential occupation of theelevated areas bordering the bajos throughout most of the Early Formative period,especially during the Barra, Locona, and OcOs phases. Domestic architecture suggeststhe existence of an elite social stratum (Blake et al. 1993a) and recent research at this sitehas been directed toward investigation of the development of early chiefdoms (Blake etal. 1992c, 1993c).San Carlos is located on a small ranch about 8 km northeast of Mazatan. TheCoatan River presently flows less than a kilometer to the east. The site consists of asingle mound, 3 m high and 100 m in diameter, with occupation extending over the lowflat lands surrounding the mound. At the time of its occupation, it was adjacent to alarge drainage channel. Excavations in 1985 and 1990 (Clark et al. 1987, 1990)produced a possible Late Archaic component, domestic architecture dating to the Barraand Locona phases, and Cuadros and Jocotal materials.Chilo is one of three sites found on the property of an old tree nursery about 5 kmnorth of Paso de la Amada. All that remains of the site is a scatter of sherds from a smalldestroyed mound south of a small bajo. Investigations in 1985 (Clark et al. 1987)produced burials and refuse dumps that indicate occupation in the Locona, OcOs andCherla phases.DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 49TECHNIQUES OF LABORATORY ANALYSISTwo main stages were involved in the laboratory analysis: sorting the light and/orheavy fractions of the flotation samples and identifying the recovered macroremains.Sorting  procedureThis first analytical stage was the most time-consuming. It involved the separation ofthe archaeological plant remains from other organic materials (modern plant remains,faunal remains) and from the inorganic component (soil, pebbles, artifacts). Descriptionof the sorting procedures is rather complicated, because some sorting of the 1985samples had been done prior to my involvement in the project and some proceduralvariation occurred. A site-by-site description of the samples provides the most concisesummary of the methods used in each case.Aquiles  Serdan. The 83 samples from this site consisted mainly of heavy fractionmaterial which had been sent from Mexico to the Laboratory of Archaeology at U.B.C.We also received plant remains recovered from previously sorted heavy fraction material.Seeds with proveniences matching those of heavy fraction samples already in ourpossession were incorporated into those samples and those with non-matchingproveniences were given new sample numbers.When I began the analysis, several of the samples had already been sorted bystudent volunteers. The sorting procedure involved the separation of all of the heavyfraction material into one of several categories, including charcoal, seeds/plant material,bone, obsidian, artifacts, pebbles, and soil. For the remainder of the Aquiles Serdansamples, the following procedure was followed. After weighing the heavy fraction, it waspassed through a series of geological sieves (4.0 mm, 2.0 mm, 1.0 mm, and 0.5 mm).DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 50These "splits" were made because it is easier to sort materials of similar size.Each split was examined visually or with low-power (10-30 X) magnification underan illuminated dissecting microscope. All charred materials were removed from the 4.0mm and 2.0 mm sieve contents. From the 1.0 mm and 0.5 mm sieves, charred seedswere removed, but small charcoal fragments were not. Experiments have indicated thatthese fragments do not add substantially to the total weight, and their small size makes itdifficult to determine species or genus of the wood (Pearsall 1989:117).Recovered charcoal was weighed and placed in plastic film containers for storage.Recovered seeds and other materials were grouped in like categories and stored in glassor plastic vials until more accurate identifications could be made.In one case (No. 66), the heavy fraction was particularly large (2578.0 g) and, toreduce sorting time, I decided to examine 25% of the 2.0 mm split and 25% of the..1.0 mm split. This brought sorting time down to a more manageable amount, yet theweight of sorted material remained within the range of the weights of the other sortedsamples. In other cases (see below), higher or lower percentages were selected,depending on the weights of the size splits. In general, it was feasible to examine moreof the larger size splits, since they could be scanned for charred remains much morequickly than the smaller splits which required microscopic examination. Table 3.3indicates the percentage of the heavy fraction that was sorted for each sample (excludingpreviously sorted samples for which heavy fraction weights were not available).Paso de  la_Amada. The sorting procedure described above was followed for the 34samples from this site, with minor variations. Because of difficulties in shipping soil andplant materials from Mexico to Canada, I sorted these samples in Mexico at the NewWorld Archaeological Foundation laboratory in San CristObal de las Casas, Chiapas. IDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 51was unable to locate sieves with the same mesh size that I used to split the AquilesSerdan samples, and ended up making just two splits: 1.0 mm and <0.1 mm. Woodcharcoal was not separated from the smaller split. In all cases except one (No. 92),100% of the 1.0 mm split was examined. Interestingly, the 0.5 mm size split was quitelarge in almost all samples and was sub-sampled for sorting. This appears to reflect thesmaller mesh used in the flotation bucket in the 1990 season. The 1.0 mm mesh used inthe 1985 season would permit this size of particle to pass through, as the generally lowweights of the <0.1 mm split seem to indicate.San Carlos. I sorted the 13 samples from this site in Mexico, following theprocedure described for the Paso samples. Again, there was a large <1.0 mm splitwhich was sub-sampled for sorting in most cases.Chilo. These 17 samples consisted of heavy fraction material which had beenshipped to Vancouver from Mexico. I sorted these at the U.B.C. lab, following theprocedure described above for the Aquiles Serddn samples. Only one large sample (No.187) was sub-sampled for sorting.DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 52Table 3.3. Heavy fractions: total weight and percent sorted.Site SampleNo.Weight of splits/ percent sorted Total0.5 mm I^`)/0 .1.0 mm % 2.0 mm % weightA.S. 1 4.0 100 18.4 100 157.5 100 179.9A.S. 3 0.2 100 0.5 100 28.2 100 28.9A.S. 5 2.2 100 15.2 100 136.5 100 153.9A.S. 7 0.2 100 2.7 100 24.0 100 26.9A.S. 8 0.1 100 2.2 100 23.2 100 25.5A.S. 9 0.2 100 2.4 100 20.5 100 23.1A.S. 10 0.6 100 9.2 100 33.0 100 42.8A.S. 11 0.5 100 13.2 100 86.2 100 99.9A.S. 21 0.2 100 2.3 100 4.7 100 7.2A.S. 22 0.2 100 3.2 100 36.6 100 40.0A.S. 23 0.2 100 2.6 100 23.1 100 25.9A.S. 24 0.2 100 2.3 100 40.6 100 43.1A.S. 25 0.7 100 6.9 100 57.1 100 64.7A.S. 34 2.2 100 15.3 100 106.9 100 124.4A.S. 35 0.8 100 9.5 100 65.8 100 76.1A.S. 41 1.1 100 13.5 100 75.6 100 90.2A.S. 42 0.2 100 2.0 100 15.8 100 18.0A.S. 43 0.3 100 4.4 100 33.9 100 38.6A.S. 44 0.4 100 3.8 100 31.9 100 36.7A.S. 51 0.1 100 0.7 100 6.9 100 7.7A.S. 52 0.0 0 0.0 0 39.5 100 39.5A.S. 53 <0.1 100 23.7 100 33.0 100 56.7A.S. 54 <0.1 100 21.7 100 16.8 100 38.5A.S. 55 1.2 100 37.3 100 126.2 100 164.7A.S. 56 1.1 100 20.2 100 82.3 100 103.6A.S. 57 3.1 100 27.2 100 112.9 100 143.2A.S. 58 0.4 100 5.8 100 24.9 100 31.1A.S. 59 0.3 100 8.5 100 27.9 100 36.7A.S. 60 0.1 100 3.3 100 3.8 100 7.2A.S. 62 4.4 100 39.1 100 114.6 100 158.1A.S. 63 0.2 100 9.4 100 27.2 100 36.8A.S. 64 6.2 100 132.0 100 483.6 100 621.8A.S. 65 7.0 100 171.7 100 695.0 100 873.7A.S. 66 46.0 100 463.0 25 2069.0 25 2598.0A.S. 67 1.1 100 14.5 100 37.9 100 53.5A.S. 68 2.7 100 2.4 100 44.6 100 49.7A.S. 69 0.4 100 10.0 100 33.4 100 43.8A.S. 70 0.4 100 12.7 100 45.5 100 58.6A.S. 71 0.2 100 12.5 100 33.2 100 45.9A.S. 72 0.2 100 12.4 100 33.8 100 46.4DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 53Table 3.3. Heavy fractions: total weight and percent sorted.SiteSampleNo.Weight of splits/ percent sorted Totalweight15 mm % 1.0 mm % I _2.0 mm I^%A.S. 73 1.3 100 29.0 100 250.0 100 280.3A.S. 75 0.9 100 14.2 100 32.1 100 47.2A.S. 76 0.2 100 8.4 100 46.5 100 55.1A.S. 77 0.2 100 8.0 100 35.9 100 44.1A.S. 78 12.4 100 85.7 100 371.7 100 389.8A.S. 79 0.2 100 1.2 100 9.2 100 10.6A.S. 80 0.1 100 0.7 100 2.5 100 3.3A.S. 81 0.5 100 2.9 100 5.7 100 9.1A.S. 82 3.7 100 4.7 100 28.7 100 37.1A.S. 83 4.0 100 90.6 100 328.7 100 423.3A.S. 84 0.2 100 2.0 100 2.8 100 5.0A.S. 85 0.6 100 10.9 100 32.3 100 43.8A.S. 86 1.1 100 14.0 100 53.1 100 68.1Paso 87 36.1 50 75.8 100 111.9Paso 88 491.2 5 778.9 100 1270.1Paso 89 243.4 10 225.4 100 468.8Paso 90 174.6 10 204.4 100 379.0Paso 91 151.1 10 188.8 100 339.9Paso 92 3410.0 1 6311.9 10 9721.9Paso 93 877.2 5 1117.5 100 1994.7Paso 94 407.0 10 481.6 100 888.6Paso 95 291.8 10 166.8 100 458.6Paso 96 223.0 10 184.1 100 407.1Paso 97 246.9 10 238.6 100 485.5Paso 98 1897.4 2 941.6 100 2839.0Paso 101 573.8 5 716.4 100 1290.2Paso 102 102.9 50 43.7 100 146.6Paso 103 40.1 100 24.2 100 64.3S.C. 104 369.7 10 61.1 100 430.8S.C. 105 418.9 10 604.3 100 1023.2S.C. 107 114.2 10 379.3 100 493.5S.C. 108 2725.8 3 8714.1 10 11439.9S.C. 109 119.3 10 183.8 100 303.1S.C. 111 771.4 5 364.3 100 1135.7S.C. 112 439.6 5 484.1 100 923.7S.C. 113 218.9 10 104.0 100 322.9S.C. 114 334.1 10 86.6 100 420.7S.C. 116 326.7 10 149.2 100 475.9S.C. 118 295.2 10 202.0 100 497.2S.C. 119 50.5 50 12.7 100 63.2DATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 54Table 3.3. Heavy fractions: total weight and percent sorted.Site SampleNo.Weight of splits/ percent sorted Totalweightr.).5 mm `)/0 .1.0 mm I^% ,_2.0 mm ToChilo 162 3.0 100 45.6 100 119.5 100 168.1Chilo 163 7.6 100 51.7 100 136.0 100 195.3Chilo 164 0.1 100 1.0 100 3.8 100 4.9Chilo 165 3.0 100 34.4 100 79.4 100 116.8Chilo 170 2.7 100 80.4 100 162.4 100 245.5Chilo 171 9.0 100 189.7 100 407.5 100 696.2Chilo 172 10.0 100 156.9 100 416.3 100 483.2Chilo 173 3.5 100 111.9 100 213.8 100 329.2Chilo 174 6.5 100 61.9 100 208.7 100 277.1Chilo 178 5.4 100 170.9 100 364.4 100 540.7Chilo 179 15.6 100 199.2 100 464.6 100 679.4Chilo 180 14.1 100 166.7 100 261.6 100 442.4Chilo 181 24.7 100 228.5 100 487.7 100 740.9Chilo 182 8.7 100 126.2 100 189.8 100 324.7Chilo 183 11.2 100 293.1 100 673.3 100 977.6Chilo 186 5.8 100 109.0 100 391.8 100 506.6Chilo 187 66.9 25 760.9 25 1712.2 25 2540.0A.S.^= Aquiles Serddn^All weights are in grams.Paso = Paso de la AmadaS.C.^= San CarlosIDENTIFICATION OF RECOVERED MACROREMAINSThis was probably the most difficult stage of the analysis. At the same time, it wasthe most crucial, since the success of the project depended on accurate identification ofthe recovered archaeobotanical remains. Such identification is usually accomplishedthrough comparisons between known plant specimens and unknown archaeologicalmaterials (Pearsall 1989:128). Access to adequate comparative material is essential,especially when the analyst has a limited botanical background and little experience inthe identification of archaeobotanical remains.Because little work of this type has been done in the Mazatan area, a comparativeDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 55plant collection has not been established'. At the beginning of this project, I had hopedto be able to build such a collection. This would involve three basic steps: 1) collecting,pressing and drying plant specimens; 2) identifying these comparative materials; and 3)charring them for the working lab collection. Logistical difficulties prevented theachievement of the first step. Because identifiable specimens must be collected inflower, in fruit, or both (Pearsall 1989:131), an extended period of plant collecting time—at least one year — would be required in order to find flowering and/or fruiting specimensof all the plants in the area. Time constraints and financial considerations made this anunfeasible option.The best alternative plan was to examine comparative collections for similarbiogeoclimatic zones. Following numerous attempts to contact archaeologists andpaleoethnobotanists working in similar areas who might have — or know of — usefulcollections, I spent two weeks at the Universidad Nacional de Mexico (U.N.A.M.) in Julyof 1992 at the invitation of Dr. Emily McClung de Tapia, director of the Laboratorio dePaleoetnobotanica.Prior to my visit to U.N.A.M., I had classified the archaeobotanical remains intovarious "Unidentified" categories, based on similarity in morphological characteristicssuch as shape and size. I took examples of each of these groups with me and comparedthe individual specimens with examples from the archaeological collections at theLaboratorio de Paleoetnobotanica. These collections derive primarily from Teotihuacanand other central highland sites. There were also collections from Coba, a site near thecoast in Quintana Roo. Javier Gonzalez V. provided assistance in making identifications.I was also permitted to examine ethnobotanical collections (from Los Tuxtlas, near theVeracruz coast, and Puertos Morelos, on the Quintana Roo coast) and herbariumDATA RECOVERY AND ANALYSIS/ 56specimens at the Instituto de Biologfa at U.N.A.M. Assistance in identifications at thisinstitution was provided by Guillermo lbarra Manriquez and Gilda Ortiz.In addition to these collections, I made continual reference to illustrated seedmanuals (eg. Gunn 1977; Martin and Barkley 1961; Montgomerey 1977) and publishedreports of botanical remains from archaeological deposits.NOTES1. Ignacio Sanchez (New World Archaeological Foundation) is currently developing acomparative plant collection as part of his study of the flora and fauna of the Mazatan area.57CHAPTER FOURRESULTS AND DISCUSSIONOf the 147 flotation samples that were analyzed, 133 yielded archeobotanicalremains. A total of seven taxa were identified. Three taxa — Zea mays (maize),Phaseolus spp. (beans), and Persea americana (avocado) — clearly dominate theassemblage. Persea sp. (Laurel family), Mollugo sp. (carpetweed), Polygonum sp.(knotweed), and Brassica sp. (mustard) are represented by fewer specimens. In the firstsection below, I describe these taxa. In the subsequent section, I discuss theiroccurrence in quantitative terms and present this information in tabular form. In the finalsection, I make a few points concerning observed patterns or trends in the data.DESCRIPTION OF RECOVERED TAXAZea mays (maize, corn, maiz; family Graminae)Zea mays is a domesticate in the grass family, which is represented by approximately400 genera and more than 6000 species. As with other cereals in this family, maizegrains provide an excellent source of carbohydrates. They also contain protein (althoughthis lacks several important amino acids), oil, and some vitamins and minerals. In pre-Hispanic times, maize was the most widely grown plant in the Americas and was anextremely important part of the diet of many native American groups (Heiser 1981:100).The poorly-balanced proteins were enhanced by preparing the grains in a lime-watersolution and by the complementary amino acids in beans (see below).The origin and evolution of maize is a topic that has intrigued botanists for over acentury. It is a complex debate and outside of the scope of this study, but the mostcommonly accepted view has it that teosinte, also in the genus Zea, was the wildancestor of maize (Beadle 1980; Benz 1987; Doebley 1990; Galinat 1983; Iltis 1983).Proponents of this view reject the idea that maize derived from a hypothetical wild maizeRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 58(Mangelsdorf 1974, 1986).Although it is clear that maize is of New World origin, debate continues over theexact location of its original domestication. This event probably occurred in onegeographic area with subsequent spread of the plant and technology to other areas.Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest maize was from the Tehuacan Valley incentral Mexico (ca. 6000 B.P., uncalibrated) (Mangelsdorf et al. 1967), but recentaccelerator mass spectrometry dates indicate that this maize is no older than 4700 B.P.(uncalibrated) (Long et al. 1989). It has recently been proposed (Doebley 1990) thatmaize originated earlier than 7000 years ago in the wetter, low to mid-altitudinal BalsasRiver valley of southwestern Mexico. This is the geographic range of Zea mays subsp.parviglumis, the teosinte which molecular studies indicate is the most similar to maize.Lea mays is clearly the most ubiquitous of the identified taxa. A total of 2280fragmented or complete maize cupules, kernels and cobs were recovered from samplesfrom all four sites and from deposits dating from Barra through Cherla times (see Table4.1 and Figures 4.1 and 4.2). Only four cob fragments were sufficiently complete topermit description of their morphological characteristics (see Table 4.2). These are allfrom Aquiles Serdan; three date to the OcOs phase and one to the Cuadros phase. Thefragment from Sample 74 is the only one which has a segment of intact rachis (Figure4.2, top). The rachis diameter is 6.81 mm, and there are 8 ranks of cupules, or 16 kernelrows. The 3 cupule ranks that are present in the fragment from Sample 25 appear tocomprise about half of the rachis diameter, which would make a 12-row cob (Figure 4.2,center). The width of this fragment is 13.86 mm, which is probably close to the rachisdiameter. The fragments from the other two samples are too incomplete to determinerachis diameter or number of rows.I have not attempted to speculate on the races of maize that these cob fragmentsrepresent, since there are few specimens which are sufficiently complete for detailedmeasurements. Moreover, my limited knowledge of the systematic relationships amongRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 59the races of maize does not qualify me for an informed discussion of racial diversity.Wellhausen et al.'s (1952) classification of maize has for decades been the standardreference for studies of maize systematics, but recent molecular evidence (Doebley 1990)indicates that a reassessment of this scheme is perhaps in order.0^ 1cmI^tilt^1111 1 1■0^ 1CMIIIIIIIIIIIFigure 4.1. Zea mays cupules (top) and kernels (bottom).RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 600^ lcmlcm1 1 1111 1 111 10^ 1cmII I II I IIIIIFigure 4.2. Zea mays cob fragments recovered from Samples 74 (top), 25 (center) and 34(bottom).RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 61Table 4.1. Counts of recovered Zea nia,u specimens.No. Phase/ Site Kernels Cupules Cobs No. Phase/ Site Kernels Cupules CobsCUADROS OCOS7 A.S. 1 65 A.S. 10 6425 A.S. 3 5 66 A.S. 37 100 441 A.S. 1 71 A.S. 357 A.S. 2 72 A.S. 5 162 A.S. 1 73 A.S. 14 2667 A.S. 2 74 A.S. 18 77 1153 A.S. 9 29CHERLA 75 A.S. 11 A.S. 1 2 76 A.S. 3 413 A.S. 11 77 A.S. 215 A.S. 9 3 78 A.S. 2 2517 A.S. 3 83 A.S. 219 A.S. 8 3 86 A.S. 126 A.S. 13 1 101 Paso 16 3728 A.S. 12 132 Paso 130 A.S. 17 5 133 Paso 332 A.S. 26 5 134 Paso 136 433 A.S. 7 2 163 Chi lo 840 A.S. 3 143 A.S. 5 LOCONA151 Paso 1 87 Paso 1162 Chilo 7 92 Paso 25174 Chilo 8 93 Paso 694 Paso 1OCOS 95 Paso 32 A.S. 79 67 40 96 Paso 24 A.S. 7 3 170 Chilo 8 25 A.S. 3 2 171 Chilo 20 421 A.S. 1 172 Chilo 11 527 A.S. 1 173 Chi lo 6 431 A.S. 6 4 178 Chilo 1034 A.S. 120 85 28 179 Chi lo 19 135 A.S. 7 13 180 Chilo 8 536 A.S. 13 8 182 Chilo 38 27344 A.S. 1 183 Chilo 17 1045 A.S. 4 186 Chilo 6 5RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 62Table 4.1. Counts of recovered Zea mays specimens.No. Phase/ Site Kernels Cupules Cobs No. Phase/ Site Kernels Cupules CobsOCOS LOCONA46 A.S. 1 187 Chilo 14 649 A.S. 14 14 7 111 S.C. 150 A.S. 6 1156 A.S. 5 BARRA58 A.S. 1 1 102 Paso 6 259 A.S. 1 2 103 Paso 10 1261 A.S. 72 126 14 108 S.C. 11 1663 A.S. 4 1 152 S.C. 7 1964 A.S. 16 83No. = Sample number^Paso = Paso de la AmadaA.S. = Aquiles Serdan^S.C. = San CarlosThese counts refer to fragmented and complete specimens.Table 4.2. Measurements of Zea mays cob fragments.SampleNo.PhaseLength(mm)Rachisdiameter(mm)Rachissegmentlength(mm)Cu .pulewidth(mm)Cupulew i ngwidth(mm)Cupuleaperturewidth(mm)Cupuleranks(1/2 no.of rows)25 Cuadros 38.16 inc. 2.81 4.49 0.86 2.58 3 (inc.)34 OcOs 11.81 inc. 2.60 3.10 0.80 1.77 2 (inc.)66 Occis 9.34 inc. 2.70 3.67 0.65 2.49 2 (inc.)74 OcOs 18.12 6.81 2.68 2.27 0.68 2.35 8RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 63Phaseolus spp. (bean, frijol.; family Fabaceae)The genus Phaseolus of the legume family comprises about 160 species.Approximately 80 of these are New World natives. Four cultivated species are importantas food crops: E vulgaris L. (common bean, frijol); p, acutifolius Gray, var. latifolius Freeman (tepary bean, escomite); E, lunatus L. (small lima bean, sieva, Luba); and E.coccineus L. (runner bean, ayecote) (Kaplan 1967:201).The principal economic significance of beans is as a source of vegetable protein. Theprotein content of dry mature seeds is 22%, which is among the highest of all plantfoods. Their amino acids complement those of cereals such as maize to provide a muchmore complete protein than can be provided by any plant alone. In addition, the caloricvalue of beans is about the same as that of cereals (Heiser 1981:127; Kaplan 1967:202).Phaseolus spp. remains were present in 31 of the 133 samples and a total of 256fragments were recovered. Of these, 59 were sufficiently complete to provide length,width, and thickness measurements — 23 from Aquiles Serdan, 33 from Paso de laAmada, and 3 from Chilo (see Table 4.3). Seed length ranges from 3.47 to 14.19 mm(mean = 6.56 mm), width ranges from 2.67 to 9.64 mm (mean = 4.32 mm), andthickness ranges from 1.18 to 6.93 mm (mean = 3.02). Where the seed consists of asingle cotyledon, the thickness measurement refers to half of the actual thickness. Tocalculate the mean thickness, I doubled the measurement of each of the singlecotyledons. The majority of the incomplete specimens would have fallen within theseranges.Most of the Phaseolus remains are probably E. vulgaris, judging by similardescriptions of shape and size in published reports of beans recovered from otherarchaeological sites (eg. Kaplan 1967; Smith 1979). They vary in shape from reniform torectangular (see Figure 4.3). The numerous small round-oval specimens in samples 137and 138 (Figure 4.3, top row) may be seeds of J. acutifolius, which are generally smallerthan those of other cultivated beans. The present distribution of this species — from theRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 64Table 4.3. Phaseolus spp. seed measurements.No./Site/Phase L(mm)W(mm)T(mm)Sizeindex No./Site/PhaseL(mm)W(mm)T(mm)Sizeindex25/ A.S./ Cu 13.93 9.64 6.93 134.29 138/ Paso/ 0 5.15 3.50 1.28* 18.0325/ A.S./ Cu 8.92 6.97 3.90 62.17 138/ Paso/ 0 5.10 3.26 1.24* 16.6325/ A.S./ Cu 7.10 4.87 3.11 34.57 138/ Paso/ 0 5.20 3.41 1.18* 17.7315/ A.S./ Ch 14.19 7.05 3.42 100.44 138/ Paso/ 0 5.04 3.08 2.70 15.5232/ A.S./ Ch 11.20 6.04 2.71* 67.65 138/ Paso/ 0 4.48 3.30 2.83 14.7838/ A.S./ Ch 10.57 7.51 4.13 79.38 138/ Paso/ 0 4.91 3.37 2.10 16.5539/ A.S./ Ch 12.43 7.74 4.05 96.21 138/ Paso/ 0 5.08 3.47 2.28 17.632/ A.S./ 0 5.23 3.25 2.12 17.00 138/ Paso/ 0 5.74 4.01 2.02 23.0249/ A.S./ 0 7.57 4.00 1.80* 30.28 138/ Paso/ 0 5.17 3.28 1.21* 16.9549/ A.S./ 0 5.19 3.78 3.24 19.62 138/ Paso/ 0 5.02 3.78 1.32* 18.9861/ A.S./ 0 11.76 8.21 3.45 96.54 138/ Paso/ 0 4.96 3.51 1.19* 17.4061/ A.S./ 0 8.58 5.81 4.15 49.84 138/ Paso/ 0 4.98 3.26 1.26* 16.2361/ A.S./ 0 7.12 4.45 4.15 31.24 138/ Paso/0 5.21 3.27 1.24* 17.0365/ A.S./ 0 5.53 3.87 1.77* 21.40 138/ Paso/ 0 5.03 3.11 1.18* 15.6466/ A.S./ 0 5.98 4.31 3.12 25.77 138/ Paso/ 0 5.28 3.32 1.09* 17.5373/ A.S./ 0 6.30 4.57 2.03 28.80 138/ Paso/ 0 4.99 3.19 1.11* 15.9174/ A.S./ 0 8.78 5.55 4.47 48.73 138/ Paso/ 0 5.22 3.46 1.24* 18.0674/ A.S./ 0 5.19 2.88 1.69 14.95 138/ Paso/ 0 5.20 3.21 1.25* 16.7078/ A.S./ 0 8.20 5.23 3.68 42.89 138/ Paso/ 0 4.95 3.13 1.18* 15.4978/ A.S./ 0 6.36 4.74 3.00 30.15 138/ Paso/ 0 4.87 3.21 1.16* 15.6378/ A.S./ 0 9.36 5.60 3.17 52.42 138/ Paso/ 0 4.91 3.27 1.06* 16.06153/ A.S./ 0 7.49 5.18 4.89 38.80 138/ Paso/ 0 5.04 3.23 1.25* 16.27153/ A.S./ 0 11.99 6.88 2.19* 82.49 138/ Paso/ 0 5.17 3.20 1.18* 16.54137/ Paso/ 0 6.22 4.30 1.93* 26.75 138/ Paso/ 0 4.89 3.04 1.21* 14.87137/ Paso/ 0 3.80 3.14 1.31* 11.93 138/ Paso/ 0 4.92 3.11 1.12* 15.30137/ Paso/ 0 4.72 3.81 1.42* 17.98 171/ Chilo/ L 5.07 3.25 1.64 16.48137/ Paso/ 0 4.79 3.62 1.77* 17.34 173/ Chilo/ L 6.39 3.86 2.03 24.67137/ Paso/ 0 4.60 3.65 1.48* 16.79 179/ Chilo/ L 3.47 2.67 1.38* 9.26138/ Paso/ 0 6.93 5.13 4.72 35.55 187/ Chilo/ L 9.01 5.35 1.85* 48.20138/ Paso/ 0 6.54 5.05 4.57 33.03No. = sample numberA.S. = Aquiles Serdan; Paso = Paso de la AmadaCu = Cuadros; Ch = Cherla; 0 = OcOs; L = LoconaL = length; W = width; T = thicknessAn asterisk (*) indicates that only one cotyledon is present.The size index is computed by multiplying length and width.RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 65Sonora desert south through Jalisco, then a gap until the Tapachula-Guatemala borderregion — suggests that this is a relic distribution (Kaplan 1967:201), in which case thespecies may have occurred in the Mazatan area as early as the Early Formative period.A good indicator of the domesticated status of a plant is seed size, since seeds ofdomesticated taxa are always larger than the seeds of the most closely allied wild species(Kaplan 1967:203). It is possible that these beans were domesticated, but because nowild specimens were available for comparison, some uncertainty remains. The Phaseolusspp. identifications were made on the basis of archaeological specimens at thepaleoethnobotanical laboratory at U.N.A.M., where the various sizes and shapes of E.vulgaris corresponded to the diverse set of seeds from the sites under consideration inthis study.Persea americana (avocado, aguacate; family Lauraceae)The avocado is the most commonly cultivated species of the genus Persea of thelaurel family (Hodgson 1950:254). Several other species occur in Mexico but themajority produce inedible fruits with little other value (McClung de Tapia 1979:149).The fruits of the avocado tree are valued for their flavor and their unusually high nutritiveand dietetic properties. The fat content is 5 to 25% of the fruit, and the average proteinand mineral content is 2 to 3 times as high as in other fresh fruits. The caloric value isapproximately 2.5 times as high as in other fruits, almost as high as in cereals, and farhigher than in lean meat. In terms of vitamins, it is high in B-complex factors, good in Aand E, fair in D, and low in C (Hodgson 1950:287).There are three ecological races of L americana. The Mexican race (E, americanavar. drymfolia) is actually a botanical variety of this species, and it is the hardiest of thethree groups. It is native to the highlands of Mexico and mountains of Central Americaand extends south as far as Chile. This variety is characterized by an anise odor in theleaves, young growth, and fruits. Fruits range from 3 to 12 ounces and have a thinRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 660^lcmI^I.11. 1 110^1 cm1"..1,...10^_lcm11111111 II Figure 4.3. Phaseolus spp. (top), Persea americana (center), and Persea sp. (bottom).RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 67smooth skin and a comparatively large seed with smooth cotyledon surfaces.E, americana includes varieties grouped in both the Guatemalan and West Indianraces. The Guatemalan race is native to the highlands of Central America and extends tonorthern South America. It lacks the anise odor and the larger fruits (from 8 ounces to 3pounds) have a thick, brittle, hard, warty rind. The seed is large to small, with smoothcotyledon surfaces. The West Indian race, native to the Central American lowlands andnorthern South America, also lacks the anise odor. Its fruits are generally large, with asmooth, leathery and usually glossy rind. The seed is comparatively large, with roughcotyledon surfaces. This is the least hardy of the three groups (Hodgson 1950:256).Fruit of the West Indian and Mexican races generally matures considerably earlier andhas a much shorter season than that of the Guatemala race. However, because thevarious races and varieties of avocados differ in their heat requirements, location has agreat effect on the periods of blossoming and fruit maturation. Fruit in the Mexican race,for example, normally ripens in late summer or fall of the year of blossoming, but incoastal areas, where flowering commonly occurs in late fall, the fruit ripens the followingsummer or fall (ibid. p.267). Some varieties of the Guatemalan race mature in summer,while others mature in fall, winter or spring.All of the avocado seeds recovered from Aquiles Serddn, Paso de la Amada and Chiloare incomplete and most are in fragmentary condition (see Figure 4.3). In a few cases,there are numerous fragments that probably represent a single seed but I was unable toreconstruct them sufficiently to determine either shape or size. The larger fragmentssuggest that the seeds were spherical. If this were the case, extrapolation of the surfacecurve suggests that seed diameters were approximately three centimeters.My identifications were made on the basis of comparisons with11, americanaspecimens from excavations at Teotihuacan in repository at the paleoethnobotanicallaboratory at U.N.A.M. It is difficult to say which races are represented by the seedsfrom the Mazatan-area sites. Seed size and cotyledon surface are the potential indicatorsRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 68of race for archaeological specimens. The fragmentary nature of the seeds precludes useof the former indicator. Cotyledon surface generally appears to be slightly roughened,which would suggest the West Indian race native to the Central American lowlands.However, this characteristic could be due to the effects of charring and post-depositionalprocesses. A smooth cotyledon surface would imply either the Guatemalan or theMexican race.It is also difficult to say whether these seeds represent domesticated trees. Adiscernible trend toward larger fruit, as represented by the seeds, cannot be detected bythis small sample and the fragmentary nature of the seeds. In addition, I had no wildspecimens with which to compare these seeds. Domesticated, cultivated or simplycollected, the avocado was evidently an economically important tree crop.Several examples of another seed tentatively identified as Persea sp. were recoveredfrom the same three sites. These are similar to a, americana but are elongated or ovoid,not spherical, in shape. One complete (but broken) seed has a length of 26.93 mm anda diameter of 13.87 mm at the widest point (see Figure 4.3). One complete (but broken)cotyledon is 26.78 mm long, 13.86 mm wide, and 7.56 mm thick. Fragments of otherseeds indicate measurements within a similar range.It is possible that these are 12,' americana var. drymifolia of the Mexican race. Smith(1966) and Smith (1979) report both spheroid and elongated seeds of this variety fromsites in the Tehuacdn Valley and the Cuicatlan Canada in Oaxaca. However, Smith(1969) describes predominantly elongated seeds from the Valley of Oaxaca which areprobably not of the drymifolia variety. It appears that seed shape cannot be used as areliable indicator of race. Because I had no archaeological examples of the elongatedvariety for comparative purposes, I was hesitant to assign a species identification to theelongated seeds. I found very similar seeds that were identified simply as Persea sp.among the vouchered specimens at the herbarium of the Instituto de Biologia atU.N.A.M. Breedlove (1986:124) lists 13 species of Persea in his Flora  de_Chiapas, notRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 69including the two varieties of E. americana. Biologist Gilda Ortiz (U.N.A.M.) told me(personal communication 1992) that it is often very difficult to identify this genus tospecies, and I therefore decided to leave these identifications at the generic level.Mollugo sp. (carpetweed, anisillo, culantrillo; family Aizoceae)Seeds identified as Mollugo sp. were recovered from Aquiles Serdan, Chilo, and SanCarlos. These small (mean length = 1.60 mm, width = 1.31 mm, thickness = 0.90 mm)seeds are from weedy field plants in the carpetweed family, and probably do notrepresent a human food source. They may instead represent plants growing in areasunder cultivation. Smith (1981) identified this genus in Formative period deposits in theOaxaca Valley. My identification was made on the basis of comparison with voucheredspecimens at the Instituto de Biologia at U.N.A.M. The archaeological seeds are quitesimilar to,&_,1. verticillata, although they are somewhat larger (see Figure 4.4). This is theonly Mollugo species that Breedlove (1986:31) lists in Flora  de Chiapas.Polygonum sp. (knotweed, chilillo, moco de  pavo; family Polygonaceae)A single charred seed of the genus Polygonum (buckwheat family) was recoveredfrom a Locona phase deposit at Paso de la Amada. It measures 0.87 mm in length and0.60 mm in width and thickness (see Figure 4.4). A number of uncharred modern seedswere also found at Paso, as well as at San Carlos. While the charred seed might also bemodern, one would expect to find Polygonum spp. (and other plants whose preferredhabitats are moist, marshy areas) around Paso, considering that the bajos and low-lyingareas probably held water for a good part of the year and would have supported suchspecies. Various species of Polygonum are considered weeds and are noted for theirpersistence and competitive ability in disturbed areas around buildings and in cultivatedfields. Pearsall (1980:200) describes medicinal uses for some species, and reports thatothers are used as herbs or their roots were consumed. Breedlove (1986:159) lists nineRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 700^1^2mmImal'kali0^1^2mm1111111mi0^1^2mmFigure 4.4. Mollugo sp. (top), Polygonum sp. (center) and Brassica sp. (bottom).RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 71species of Polygonum which have been documented for Chiapas. My identification wasmade by comparing this distinctive triangular-shaped seed with Polygonum seeds at theherbarium of the Instituto de Biologia and with photographs in Martin and Barkley(1961).Brassica sp. (mustard, mostaza; family Cruciferae)Two charred seeds of the genus Brassica (mustard family) were identified from Loconadeposits at San Carlos. These measure 0.66 mm and 0.61 mm in diameter (see Figure4.4). Several species of Brassica are important food plants, but most of these have OldWorld origins. Other species are weedy plants that inhabit fields, gardens, roadsides anddisturbed areas (Harlan 1975:68; Heizer 1981:194; Martin and Barkley 1961:9).Breedlove (1986:78) lists four species of Brassica for Chiapas. None of those which Iexamined at the herbarium of the Instituto de Biologia matched the archaeological seedscompletely, and I therefore left the identification at the generic level.Unidentified Much of the charred plant material recovered from the flotation samples remainsunidentified. In most cases this material consists of small fragments which lackdistinguishing characteristics and are probably unidentifiable (Emily McClung de Tapia,personal communication 1992). Of the few relatively complete seeds, there was nomore than one of each type. I attempted to identify these by comparing them witharchaeological, ethnographic and vouchered biological specimens at U.N.A.M. and withphotographs and descriptions in illustrated seed manuals (Gunn 1977; Martin andBarkley 1961; Montgomerey 1977), but most were either badly weathered or lacked keydistinguishing features.RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 72DATA PRESENTATION AND QUANTIFICATIONMethods for presenting and quantifying the botanical data are constrained to a largedegree by the nature of the data. As indicated in Chapter Three, botanical remainsrecovered from archaeological contexts provide, at best, an indirect reflection of plantresource utilization by ancient human populations. We cannot assume that recoveredplant remains occur in the proportions actually consumed. Differential patterns ofpreparation and utilization of plants influence the amounts of material that will bepreserved, as well as the parts of the plants that will be discarded and possibly preserved.Post-depositional processes and differential rates of preservation further affect therepresentation of plant remains (Begler and Keatinge 1979:221).Given these differing circumstances of deposition and preservation, statisticaltreatment of archeobotanical data for the purpose of reconstructing prehistoric dietary andsubsistence practices is very problematical. Quantification by absolute counts (thenumber of each taxon in each sample) is generally of limited use, althoughstandardization (converting counts into ratios, such as the number or weight of charreditems per volume of processed sediment) can help to even out differences in sample sizeor sample abundance (Popper 1988:60). The failure to record the volume of soilprocessed in this project, as noted in Chapter Three, precludes consideration of thispotentially useful method.The absolute counts in Table 4.4 provide a summary of the raw data and anindication of the quantity of recovered botanical remains from each sample, but they arenot intended to accurately reflect the prehistoric use or importance of specific plants.The counts are often misleading, since they refer to tiny fragments as well as wholeseeds. Fourteen fragments may be part of a single seed, or they may represent fourteendifferent seeds. Determination of the minimum number of individuals of a particularspecies, as attempted by MacNeish (1967) and Pozorski (1976), is probably impossible.Except for wood charcoal, I do not include weights because in most cases they are negligible.RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 73Table 4.4. Absolute counts of recovered archeobotanical remains.No. Site/phaseLeamaysPhaseolus Persea Lem easp.Mollugo Polygonum Brassica Unident-ifiedChar-coalspp. americana sp. sp. sp.7 A.S./Cu 1 19 A.S./ Cu 122 A.S./ Cu 1 0.0123 A.S./ Cu 225 A.S./ Cu 5 5 7 1 7 3.3541 A.S./ Cu 1 11 0.1442 A.S./ Cu 1 357 A.S./ Cu 2 1 562 A.S./ Cu 1 0.0367 A.S./Cu 2 1 21 A.S./ Ch 3 8 0.1410 A.S./Ch 111 A.S./ Ch 1 0.0412 A.S./ Ch 0.0913 A.S./ Ch 11 6 0.0215 A.S./ Ch 12 7 1 17 0.1017 A.S./ Ch 3 2 56 0.1619 A.S./Ch 11 2 15 0.0520 A.S./ Ch 1 4 0.3926 A.S./ Ch 14 4 0.5628 A.S./Ch 12 7 0.1030 A.S./ Ch 22 27 0.3232 A.S./ Ch 31 7 20 0.3233 A.S./ Ch 9 1 10 0.2637 A.S./ Ch 238 A.S./ Ch 4 3 0.2339 A.S./ Ch 1 1 7 0.2540 A.S./ Ch 4 13 0.0943 A.S./Ch 5 14 0.122 A.S./0 188 1 45 41 6.723 A.S./0 2 0.104 A.S./0 10 4 20 5.075 A.S./ 0 5 9 0.4321 A.S./ 0 1 1 227 A.S./ 0 1 1 0.1029 A.S./0 12 0.2631 A.S./ 0 10 5 1.0534 A.S./ 0 233 4 5 2 2.1735 A.S./ 0 20 3 3 12 0.8536 A.S./ 0 21 0.8144 A.S./ 0 1 0.0645 A.S./ 0 4 13 0.6346 A.S./ 0 1 1 6 0.5549 A.S./ 0 35 3 5 23 26.6450 A.S./ 0 17 1 1 4 10.6451 A.S./ 0 1 0.2655 A.S./ 0 10 0.0856 A.S./ 0 5 10 0.0558 A.S./ 0 2 2 7 0.1859 A.S./ 0 5 7 0.9260 A.S./ 0 0.0161 A.S./ 0 212 14 6 41 10.43RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 74Table 4.4. Absolute counts of recovered archeobotanical remains.No.Site/phaseLe_amaysPhaseolus Persea Persea Moak=sp.Polygonum Brassica Unident-ifiedChar-coalspp. americana sp. sp. sp.63 A.S./ 0 5 3 0.1264 A.S./ 0 99 6 16 1.2865 A.S./0 74 7 5 5 1.0166 A.S./0 141 9 5 40 1.1569 A.S./ 0 1 3 0.0170 A.S./ 0 3 0.0971 A.S./0 3 1 10 0.3872 A.S./ 0 6 1 7 0.1473 A.S./ 0 40 5 15 2.6174 A.S./0 96 9 18 3 9 5.8375 A.S./ 0 1 20 1 0.0776 A.S./ 0 7 0.0877 A.S./ 0 2 1 0.0578 A.S./0 30 5 11 1.3181 A.S./ 0 183 A.S./ 0 2 23 0.2584 A.S./0 0.1085 A.S./ 0 5 0.0186 A.S./ 0 1 8 0.07153 A.S./ 0 38 7 9 7 3.32154 A.S./0 1155 A.S./0 7151 PASO/ Ch 1101 PASO/ 0 53 1 11 0.03132 PASO/0 1133 PASO/0 3 2 6134 PASO/0 140 10135 PASO/0 4 3 0.02136 PASO/0 1 1137 PASO/0 16 1138 PASO/0 109 987 PASO/ L 1 1 0.3388 PASO/ L 2 0.0290 PASO/ L 0.0291 PASO/ L 0.0892 PASO/ L 25 11 0.1893 PASO/ L 6 6 0.0594 PASO/ L 1 3 0.0195 PASO/ L 3 1 0.0296 PASO/ L 2 7 0.0697 PASO/ L 0.0398 PASO/ L 6 0.08125 PASO/ L 2129 PASO/ L 1130 PASO/ L 2131 PASO/ L 9139 PASO/ L 2142 PASO/ L 1144 PASO/ L 1145 PASO/ L 1 0.04147 PASO/ L 18RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 75Table 4.4. Absolute counts of recovered archeobotanical remains.No.Site/phaseZea Phaseolus Persea Persea Mollugo Polygonum Brassica Unident-ifiedChar-coalmays spp. americana sp. sp. sp. sp.148 PASO/ L 14149 PASO/ L 3 0.14102 PASO/ B 8 0.02103 PASO/ B 22 0.02162 CHILO/Ch 7 1 29 0.22174 CHILO/Ch 8 1 16 0.03163 CHILO/ 0 8 21 0.01165 CHILO/ 0 5 0.01170 CHILO/ L 10 23 0.76171 CHILO/ L 24 5 1 30 2.15172 CHILO/ L 16 1 28 2.23173 CHILO/ L 10 7 1 13 0.72178 CHILO/ L 10 1 24 0.49179 CHILO/ L 20 1 1 21 2.04180 CHILO/ L 13 15 10 0.72181 CHILO/ L 24 0.18182 CHILO/ L 311 2 16 0.69183 CHILO/ L 27 2 12 0.17186 CHILO/ L 11 1 27 1.77187 CHILO/ L 20 1 12 0.98114 S.C./ J 3109 S.C./ L 0.01111 S.C./ L 1 5 0.10116 S.C./ L 4 0.02118 S.C./ L 7 0.04119 S.C./ L 1 1 9 0.01104 S.C./ B 3 0.08105 S.C./ B 0.08108 S.C./ B 27 1 10 0.18152 S.C./ B 26 2Totals 2280 256 173 19 19 1 2 1126 107.50No.: sample number.Sites: A.S. = Aquiles Serdan; PASO = Paso de la Amada; S.C. = San CarlosPhases: J = Jocotal; Cu = Cuadros; Ch = Cherla; 0 = OcOs; L = Locona; B = BarraCounts include whole and fragmented specimens.Wood charcoal is measured in grams.For common English and Spanish names, see "Description of Recovered Taxa" in thischapter.RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 76Inference based upon simple identification of species present in archaeologicalcontexts is probably the most reliable and useful approach to the quantification ofarcheobotanical data. Ubiquity or presence analysis minimizes the impact of absolutequantity on the evaluation of taxon importance by looking at overall trends in taxonoccurrence (Pearsall 1989:212-14).The ubiquity of a particular taxon refers to the number of samples in which the taxonappears within a group of samples (Ford 1979:305; Popper 1988:60). A taxon is scoredpresent or absent in each sample; the actual number of times it occurs is not counted.The frequency score is the number of samples in which the taxon is present expressed asa percentage of the total number of samples in the group. If avocado seeds occur in 2 of10 samples in a particular group, avocado receives a frequency score of 2001o, regardlessof how many actual seeds or fragments of seeds occur in each sample.In this analysis, samples are grouped in what I call "component groups". This termrefers to all samples deriving from a particular chronological phase at a particular site.For example, the 22 Locona-phase samples from Paso de la Amada constitute onecomponent group; the 8 OcOs-phase samples from the same site constitute another.These are distinct from OcOs and Locona-phase samples from other sites. The score of ataxon in one group does not affect the score of another taxon in the same group, or inany other group; they are independent. A single frequency score has significance only incomparison with other scores of the same taxon. We can say that maize is moreubiquitous in OcOs-phase samples from Aquiles Serdan than from Cuadros-phase samplesfrom the same site, or from OcOs-phase samples from Paso de la Amada. However, it isdifficult to make direct comparisons of the absolute importance of this taxon betweendifferent sites or time periods, and even more difficult to compare the importance of twoRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 77Table 4.5. Ubiquity of identified taxa: occurrence and frequency scores.Site/Phase No.Leamays%Phaseolus rEe_leaamericanaPersea%Mol I ugo Polygonum Brassicaspp.#^%sp.#sp.#^%sp.#^%sp.#^%# #^%A.S.Cuadros 10 6 60 2 20 1 10 2 20 1 10 — — — —Cherla 19 12 63 5 26 2 11 3 16 — — — — — —OcOs 45 33 73 15 33 11 24 3 7 3 7 — — —PASOCherla 1 1 100 — — — — — — — — — — — —OcOs 8 4 50 3 38 3 38 2 50 — — — —Locona 22 6 27 1 5 5 23 — — — — 1 5 — —Barra 2 2 100 — — — — — — — — — — —CH I LOCherla 2 2 100 — — — — — — 2 100 — — — —OcOs 2 150 — — — — — — — — — — — —Locona 12 11 92 5 42 1 8 1 8 6 50 — — -- --S.C.JocotalLocona 5 1 20 — — — — — 1 20 — — 2 40Barra 4 2 50 — — — — — — 1 25 — — — —Total 133 81 31 23 11 14 1 2No.: number of samples for each component group which yielded archeobotanicalremains.#:^occurrence (the number of samples in which the indicated taxon is present).°A): frequency score (the number of samples in which the taxon is present, expressed asa percentage of the total number of samples in the component group). This scorehas been rounded off to the nearest percentage point.A.S.: Aquiles Serdan; PASO: Paso de la Amada; S.C.: San Carlos.RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 78or more taxa, given the inherent problems in the representation of plant remains.Table 4.5 shows the occurrence and frequency scores of the identifiedarcheobotanical taxa for each component group. Because of the small number ofsamples in some groups, some of the frequency scores may be inflated. For example, thefrequency score for maize in the Chilo/Cherla component group (100%) is higher thanthat in the Aquiles Serdan/OcOs group (73%), but the former score is based on 2 sampleswhile the latter is based on 33. Obviously, interpretations must be cautiously drawnwhen there are few samples in a group.DISCUSSIONTaking into consideration the many unknown factors of utilization, deposition, post-deposition, and preservation that influenced the quantity and distribution of therecovered macroremains, a few points can be made regarding observed patterns or trendsin the data.Of the seven identified taxa, maize is clearly the most ubiquitous (see Table 4.5). Itoccurs in 81 of the 133 samples that yielded macrobotanical remains, and is present insamples from each of the five chronological phases represented (because no identifiedmacroremains were recovered from the single Jocotal phase sample, I am excluding thisphase from the discussion). The small number of Barra phase samples does not permit usto conclude much more than the fact that maize was present — at Paso and San Carlos —during this phase. Its ubiquity (100% at Paso and 50'1/0 at San Carlos) for thesecomponent groups is probably inflated and should not be used for comparative purposes.However, the presence of maize in the Barra phase is important, since evidence for thiscultigen prior to the Locona period had not been previously documented.The ubiquity scores of maize in subsequent phases is probably somewhat morerepresentative of its occurrence. We have more samples for these phases, especially forthe Locona phases at Paso and Chilo and the Oa5s, Cherla and Cuadros phases atRESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 79Aquiles Serdan. There is, however, no indication of an observable trend towardincreased use of maize over time. If we exclude the phases for which there are fewsamples (Locona at San Carlos, OcOs at Chilo, and Cherla at Paso and Chilo), we get apercentage presence that varies from 27% - 92% (Locona), to 73% (0a5s), to 63%(Cherla), to 60% (Cuadros). There is also little evidence for greater use of maize atparticular sites. Aquiles Serdan demonstrates the most consistently high ubiquity, but thismay have more to do with the number of samples — and with the nature of the middencontext from which the samples were recovered — than with a greater utilization ofmaize.Beans and avocados are the other two most ubiquitous taxa, occurring in 31 and 23of the 133 samples, respectively. Both of these cultigens occurred at Aquiles Serclan,Paso and Chilo (but not San Carlos), from samples dating to the Locona, 00:5s, Cherlaand Cuadros phases. The absence of beans and avocados in the Barra phase samplesmay indicate that these plants were not being used, but it may also be attributed to thesmall number of samples from this phase. At Chilo, these taxa only occur during theLocona phase, but again it is inadvisable to draw conclusions about their absence in theother phases with the limited number of samples available.Based on the frequency scores presented in Table 4.5, one might be inclined toconclude that maize was more important than beans, and that beans were moreimportant than avocados. As noted above, it is very difficult to make this kind ofcomparison between different taxa. We must consider factors such as seasonality andavailability, methods of preparation, consumption, and deposition, and differentialpreservation of plant remains. Was one kind of plant food prepared and consumed in anarea where long-term preservation would be more likely to occur? Did consumptionusually occur outside, with refuse (such as avocado seeds) being tossed away from thehouse? What was thrown into the hearth, and what accidentally survived beingcompletely burned? What effect did our sampling strategy have on recovery rates?RESULTS AND DISCUSSION/ 80We can only speculate on answers to questions such as these, drawing on modernanalogies of food production, consumption and discard practices. Ethnoarchaeologicalstudies (eg. Lee and Hayden 1988; Hayden and Cannon 1983, 1984) may prove to bevery helpful in interpreting the material remains of activities related to plant use. At thispoint, all that can be said with certainty is that these plant foods are present in thearchaeological record and were probably significant dietary components. If they wereinfrequently used, it is less likely that they would appear so consistently across such anextended time period at all of these sites.Summarizing by phase, we can say that maize was present by the Barra phase, andthat maize, beans and avocados were present in samples dating to all of the other fourphases represented. Mollugo sp. occurs in all five phases, and Polygonum sp. andBrassica sp. occur in the Locona phase. The co-occurrence of these weedy species withmaize, beans and avocado is not surprising, given their propensity to grow in areasdisturbed by cultivation.81CHAPTER FIVECONCLUSIONSREVIEW OF OBJECTIVES AND RESULTSThe recovery and analysis of archaeobotanical remains in this study was directed byquestions regarding Early Formative subsistence practices in the Mazatan area ofsoutheastern Mesoamerica. It was proposed that cultivation of indigenous food plantswas an important component in the Mokaya subsistence economy prior to theintroduction of non-local domesticated food plants. This development probably occurredas a gradual progression from casual to more deliberate cultivation of favored plantspecies. Incentives for such practices may have been related to nutrition, availability,efficiency, and/or storability. The adoption of non-local domesticates may have occurredfor similar reasons. It may also have occurred for reasons related to emergingsociopolitical complexity. The research questions generated by this hypothesis focusedon two stages of the local agricultural process: the origins of local cultivation practices ofindigenous plant species, and the adoption of non-local domesticated species. In thischapter, I review these questions on the basis of the study results.Local developmentsSeveral of the questions relating to the origins of local cultivation practices can nowbe addressed, at least in a preliminary way. One of the objectives of this project was todetermine some of the particular species of lowland food plants that were being used,cultivated and/or domesticated by Early Formative people in the Mazatan area.Characteristics of the local environment and reports of species recovered fromarchaeological deposits in similar biogeoclimatic zones suggest that some of thefollowing species might be expected to occur: root crops such as manioc or sweetpotatoes; tree fruits such as plums, avocados, nance, zapote, coyol, cacao, guava andCONCLUSIONS/ 82papaya; and herbaceous plants such as tomatoes, chili peppers, cucurbits and beans.Domesticated forms of some of these species could also occur. A Mesoamericandomestication has been postulated for avocados, tomatoes, some species of cucurbits,chili peppers and beans, and possibly papaya, manioc and cacao, although the specificareas of origin are still under much debate (Heiser 1990; Stone 1984).As indicated in Chapter Four, fragments of avocado seeds were identified from therecovered macroremains. The avocado was probably a local arboreal species. It mayhave been wild, with people simply collecting the fruit as it ripened and/or employingcertain cultivation techniques for increased productivity or efficiency, but it may alsohave achieved domesticated status around this time. Beans were also identified, andcomparison of their size ranges with other domesticated (archaeological and modern)examples strongly indicates that at least some domesticated species were being used.While beans are frequently considered to have been domesticated in highland areas(probably because the earliest domesticated specimens in Mesoamerica were recoveredfrom highland areas such as the Tehuacan Valley), there is no evidence for a specific areaof origin (Kaplan 1967:210) and we should not reject the possibility that some speciesmay have been locally domesticated. In any case, they were certainly being cultivatedby the Locona phase and through the Early Formative period.How important were these cultigens in the local subsistence economy? It isimpossible to provide an answer to this question with the limited data recovered fromthis study. However, given the consistency through time and space in theirarchaeological ubiquity, it would not be unreasonable to assume that they were crops ofat least some economic significance. At the very least, they provide strong evidence for amixed economy that included gathering and cultivation of plant foods in addition topreviously documented evidence for fishing and hunting.Do the recovered data provide any indications of why the development of localcultivation practices occurred? In Chapter Two I discussed several possible incentivesCONCLUSIONS/ 83relating to nutrition, availability, efficiency or convenience, and storability. Avocados arecertainly high in several nutrients, and their oil content would have provided acomparable alternative to animal fats. Their seasonal availability would have beendependent upon the particular races and varieties being cultivated or harvested, as wellas on climatic characteristics and bearing patterns. Under certain conditions, ripe fruitmay have been available throughout much of the year. The planting or transplanting ofavocado trees close to the household would have permitted efficient harvesting of thefruit as it ripened and as required by household needs. Mature avocado trees canproduce great quantities of fruit and, while long-term storage is generally poor, a goodharvest would produce more than enough for the needs of a single household.Beans are also highly nutritious, especially in their protein and caloric values. Ifthere was differential access to preferred fishing and hunting areas, beans could haveprovided an alternate source of protein for people in less fortunate social positions. Interms of seasonal availability, beans would likely have been a wet-season crop.However, planting beans in bajos at the beginning of the dry season, or in kitchengardens where they could be watered as necessary, would perhaps have permitted aharvest in the dry season as well. One of the unique characteristics of beans is theirstorability; few tropical fruits preserve for long periods under the hot and humidconditions of the coastal environment. The advantage of having a stored supply of foodfor future use may well have provided an incentive for their cultivation. If sociopoliticalinequities were developing at this time, the creation of food surpluses — possiblyinvolving the use of stored foods such as beans — may have been an important securitystrategy, as I discussed in Chapter Two.Adoption  of  non-local domesticatesMaize was the only species identified from the analyzed samples that was definitelya non-local domesticated cultigen. As noted in Chapter Four, extant evidence indicatesCONCLUSIONS/ 84that the center of origin of maize was well outside of the Mazatan area. Itsarchaeological occurrence here at this time period therefore suggests that the process ofits introduction and subsequent adoption into the subsistence economy had taken placeby the Barra phase. The stable carbon isotope data from Tlacuachero (Blake et al.1992b:89) indicate that it may have taken place as early as the Chantuto B phase. If, asthe hypothesis implies, the cultivation of indigenous species had begun to be practicedwell prior to the adoption of non-local species, we would expect to find earlier evidenceof the former. In fact, our first evidence for local cultigens occurs slightly later than formaize. Evidently, the time to look for the first occurrences of cultivation practices — aswell as the introduction of non-local domesticates — is not in the Early Formative but inthe Late Archaic period.What role did maize play in the subsistence economy in the early period of its use?Was it used as a dietary staple? It would certainly have provided a good source ofcarbohydrates for supplementing a diet that was apparently high in animal protein. Inthe absence of direct evidence for other carbohydrate-rich foods, it would be reasonableto assume that maize may have been valued for this nutritive property. Little is knownabout its productivity at this time, but the generally small size of the recovered cobfragments suggest that it was significantly less productive than is modern maize. Size, ofcourse, is not always the primary determinant of productivity. The cultivation of moreplants could have compensated for the small size of the ears.Stable carbon isotope data (Blake et al. 1992b) suggest that maize was not asignificant dietary component during the Early Formative period. The ubiquity datapresented in Chapter Four, however, present a somewhat puzzling discrepancy to theseconclusions. Maize occurred in 81 of the 133 samples that yielded macroremains, andin each of the chronological phases at all four sites. While the absolute counts must beinterpreted with great caution, the 2280 complete and fragmented maize specimensTable 4.4) indicate a fairly strong presence and suggest that maize was of some economicCONCLUSIONS/ 85importance.If maize was adopted and used not as a staple food but as a dietary supplement, thediscrepancy between the isotope and the ubiquity data might be explained. Occasionalor low-volume use of maize would produce relatively low OnC values but, at the sametime, it could also produce large numbers of preserved plant remains.What would have prompted the people in the Mazatan area to begin cultivatingmaize? The accommodation of this new species to an established cultivation regimewould probably have involved little extra cost or effort; at the same time, it would haveextended the diversity of the local resource base. In addition to the nutritive propertiesof maize, it can be successfully stored for extended periods. Perhaps, as suggested abovefor beans, people valued maize because it could be stockpiled for future use — to fillseasonal gaps in the availability of certain other foods, or possibly to be used incompetitive feasting contexts.In Chapter Two, I discussed the hypothesis that non-local domesticates were adoptedby aspiring elites as prestige items to be used in competitive feasting contexts. Theidentification of maize in Barra deposits supports the implication that the first non-localspecies should be contemporaneous with the first indications of emerging socialcomplexity. In general, however, the analysis failed to yield data which convincinglysupport the hypothesis. If maize was not a dietary staple but instead an ingredient to beused in the preparation of special beverages or for consumption in feasting contexts, thearchaeological record should display a greater reliance on local food plants. While theubiquity data indicate that the reverse was the case, it is very difficult to make such directcomparisons between different species. If maize was used primarily by elites, we mightexpect spatial distributions of maize remains to indicate differential use or consumptionof this species. However, while some excavated structures appear to represent highstatus contexts, too few contexts have been excavated at any one site to provide clearindications of differences in social status. In any case, distribution of special foods orCONCLUSIONS/ 86beverages through the gift-giving or feasting complex would possibly obscure statusdistinctions in the archaeological record.If maize was used as an ingredient in a special beverage such as chicha, we mightexpect to find material evidence for the various stages of production, as outlined inChapter Two. Recovered maize cobs are possible indicators of the malting stage.Vessels that may have been used for soaking the kernels and stones that may have beenused for grinding the im were also recovered (Clark et al. 1987, 1990). For the cookingstage, we have hearths and charcoal. Obviously, these indicators correspond withcommon domestic activities and cannot be used to pinpoint a specific activity withoutcorresponding evidence that is more exclusively related to chicha preparation. For thesieving stage, we have maize remains that might represent by-products, although it isquestionable whether such by-products would have been preserved. A wet mass ofsoaked maize would probably have been fed to dogs or dumped in a refuse area where,uncarbonized, it would stand little chance of surviving through millennia.SummaryThe botanical data that were recovered from this study indicate that cultivation ofavocados, beans and maize was practiced by Early Formative people in the Mazatanarea. We still do not know exactly what contribution these plant foods made to the diet.Other archaeological data indicate that cultivation was just one part of a varied anddiverse subsistence economy that emphasized faunal resources. As Lowe (1971:230)points out, the great variety of natural resources in lowland tropical areas may haveworked against a greater degree of dependence upon agriculture, since "the forestdweller was always but a step removed from the possibility of a hunting and gatheringsubsistence, no matter how much corn he was accustomed to planting."As Ford (1976:268) wrote, "Perhaps undue attention has been given for too long tothe trinity of corn, beans, and squash". This common characterization of MesoamericanCONCLUSIONS/ 87subsistence is derived from studies of highland areas and does not take into account thecomplexity and diversity of the resource base in the Mazatän area. The tropical foresthabitat undoubtedly played an important role in the direction of cultural development inthe Mazatdn area, just as the arid thorn forest habitat did for development in the highlandareas. We cannot expect that all areas would have had similar trajectories or that asingle explanation can account for the variation.Domestication and agriculture should be considered processes, not events (Pearsall1993). While the presence of domesticated plants does not imply fully developedagriculture, it only takes a few plant remains to signal that the agricultural process isunderway. Obviously, it was well underway in the Mazatân area by the beginning of theEarly Formative period, and possibly much earlier. We must remember, however, thatthe process is not necessarily unidirectional or irreversible. There is no reason topresume that a mixed economy based on gathered and/or cultivated plant foods, fishingand hunting, as is indicated for the Early Formative Mokaya, is an intermediate stage onthe "pathway to agriculture". This is too reminiscent of the fixed stages implicit in manyclassificatory evolutionary schemes. Many possibilities for variation and adaptation exist.Our challenge is to interpret and explain such variation, and this can best beaccomplished through detailed archaeological analysis at the local level.CONTRIBUTIONS OF THIS STUDYThis project has not provided final answers to many of the questions that it attemptedto address, but the botanical data that it brings together make an important contributionto the limited knowledge of Early Formative subsistence in the Mazatan area. This is thefirst substantive body of archaeobotanical data to be generated for this area and timeperiod. In fact, it is one of very few studies which document and describe plant remainsfrom Early Formative lowland sites throughout Mesoamerica.Elsewhere on the Pacific Coast of southeastern Mesoamerica, excavations at SalinasCONCLUSIONS/ 88La Blanca on the coast of Guatemala (see Figure 1.1) yielded mineralized maize cobfragments which date to the Cuadros phase (Coe and Flannery 1967; Mangelsdorf1967:127). These appear to be somewhat larger than the cobs from the Mazatan area,but a larger sample from the latter is necessary before detailed comparisons can be made.Seeds from hogplum, avocado, and matasano fruits were also recovered. At nearby LaVictoria, no plant remains were recovered from Early Formative deposits, althoughgrinding tools indirectly suggest that maize agriculture was practiced (Coe 1961).Conflicting reports of recovered plant remains from El Mesak on the Guatemala coast(Pye and Demerest 1989:1; Pye 1992:37) are unclear about whether maize was presentin Locona/OcOs deposits. In the Tecojate region of coastal Guatemala, ceramicsdecorated with maize cob impressions from the Early Formative deposits excavated atMedina indicate that maize was being cultivated, but no recovered plant remains havebeen identified (Arroyo 1991:11-12). At El Carmen, on the coast of El Salvador,carbonized plant remains were recovered but have not been identified (Demerest et al.1989:5).Across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec on the Gulf Coast, very little botanical materialdating to the Early Formative period has been recovered. At the major Olmec center ofLa Venta, charred palm nuts were recovered from Early Preclassic deposits at Rio Bari(Rust and Sharer 1988:103). At San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, indirect evidence suggests thatcultivation of maize and root crops may have occurred, but no physical remains of foodplants were recovered (Coe and Diehl 1980:144). The paucity of archaeological plantremains from this area is unfortunate, given the significant role that subsistence strategiesmust have had in the formation of the Olmec cultural complex.Excavations at Cuello in the tropical lowlands of northern Belize (Hammond 1991)yielded a good sample of carbonized plant remains, including maize, squash, beans, chilipeppers, hogplum, nance, mamey, avocado, guava, cashew, and cacao (Miksicek1991:72, 76). These were from Swasey phase deposits, which were originally thought toCONCLUSIONS/ 89date to the Early Formative period. However, new radiocarbon dates falling between1100 and 400 B.C. place this phase in the Middle Formative period (Andrews andHammond 1990:573), somewhat later than the period of primary interest here.Outside of these tropical lowland areas, the arid conditions in the Valley of Oaxacaand the Tehuacan Valley resulted in much better preservation of plant remains.Excavations at the Archaic period site of Guild Naquitz produced remains of pition nuts,agave, beans, mesquite, nance, prickly pear, cucurbits, acorns, hackberry, and possiblyavocado and chili peppers (Smith 1986:266). At Tierras Largas, maize and avocado wereidentified from Early Formative deposits (Winter 1976:31 and Fig.2.8), and excavations atSanto Domingo Tomaltepec yielded maize, teosinte, avocado, bean, chenopod,amaranth, portulaca, and mollugo from Early Formative contexts (Smith 1981:188-192).At Fabrica San José, a Middle Formative site, maize, teosinte, avocado, bean, chipil, andzapote were recovered (Ford 1976:261-266). In the Tehuacan Valley, a great variety oftaxa were recovered from Archaic and Early Formative deposits, including maize, coyol,amaranth, avocado, wild and domesticated bean, mesquite, plum, prickly pear, chilipepper, cucurbit, bottle gourd, agave and cotton (Smith 1967:Table 26).It is clear that environmental factors play a major role in the degree of preservationof plant remains, and, by extension, in our ability to address questions about subsistenceand the development of agriculture. In the tropical lowland environment, whereconditions generally result in poor plant preservation, our task is much more difficult.Precisely for this reason, it is imperative that archaeological projects in lowland areasinclude carefully designed programs for the collection and analysis of botanical data.RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCHThe information recovered from this project provides some insights into the plantcomponent of the subsistence economy and has potential application to the widerresearch goals of the Mazatan project. This must, nevertheless, be considered a•CONCLUSIONS/ 90preliminary study. More data have since been recovered that were not included in theanalysis (Blake et al. 1993c; Clark and Lesure 1992) and some of the analyzed material,including the wood charcoal, remains unidentified. It is hoped that this will be the firstof many such studies directed toward a better understanding of the nature anddevelopment of subsistence strategies in the Mazatan area.All research projects are learning experiences, and this was no exception. Certainproblems related to the collection and analysis of the data limit the effectiveness of thestudy results. In retrospect, the oversights are obvious, but then hindsight usually ismuch sharper than foresight.The primary problem that I faced is a common one: the analysis of data collected byother people, for a project of someone else's design. In this case, I was working withdata collected by various workers over multiple field seasons, using recovery techniquesthat varied from one season to another. While this presented several small problems indesigning methods for analyzing the data, they were generally surmountable. One of themore serious problems concerns the preliminary processing of the data.Where possible, standard-sized samples are generally collected for flotation. This isdone to facilitate comparability of recovered remains (Pearsall 1989:98), although thevarious unknown factors of preservation and deposition limit the comparisons that can bemade. In the sample collection stage of this project, different sizes of samples werecollected because of the various natures of their contexts. Normally, this would notpreclude comparisons, because density ratios (ie. the number of seeds per liter ofprocessed soil) could still be computed. However, such ratios require that we know thevolume of soil that was processed for each sample, and, as noted in Chapter Four, thiswas not recorded. A consistent measure of the number of maize kernels per liter offloated soil, for example, might have provided more specific information than the factthat maize is present — or, it might not. The point is that, by neglecting to record thevolume of processed soil, we narrowed our available options for data quantification.CONCLUSIONS/ 91The other major problem that I faced was the lack of adequate comparative materialfor identification of the recovered plant remains. It is imperative that the identificationstrategy be planned well in advance. Ideally, the researcher should attempt to developher/his own comparative material from plants collected in the specific research area. Inmy case, I lacked the time required for such a project, but the collection of seeds fromcommon fruits in the local markets would have required little time and would haveconstituted a beginning. As I found out, established comparative collections are limitedin their applicability to areas other than the ones for which they were established. Muchtime and money can be spent locating and travelling to institutions with suitablecollections. There also appears to be some reluctance to make such collections availableto other scholars; the general consensus seems to be that we should all develop our own.As a final observation, I consider this to be a "paleoethnobotanical" study in the strictsense of the term — that is, the analysis of archaeological plant remains for the purpose ofinterpreting past human/plant relationships — but the "ethno-" aspect is admittedly ratherlimited. More attention to modern patterns of food production, preparation, consumptionand discard is essential for drawing analogies between modern and ancient practices.Relying on ethnographic analogy presents its own problems, but it is one of our onlymeans of interpreting the recovered data in terms of past human behavior and ofgenerating testable hypotheses about such behavior. As I discussed in the previouschapter, recovered botanical remains provide an indirect reflection of plant use. Post-depositional processes and differential rates of preservation certainly have a great effecton how plant remains are represented in the archaeological record, but the ways inwhich plants are prepared, consumed and discarded are of at least equal importance indetermining the amounts and types of material that will be preserved. Ethnographicobservations have the potential to provide valuable insights and should probably be astandard part of any paleoethnobotanical study.92BIBLIOGRAPHYAcuria, R.1982 Relaciones Geograficas  del Siglo  XVI:  Guatemala.  Universidad NacionalAut6noma de Mexico, Mexico City.Alvarez del Toro, M.1990 !Asi  era  Chiapas!:  42  Arms  de  Andanzas  por  Montarias, Selvas  y_Caminos  en  DIEstadao, 2nd edition. John D. y Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Fundamat,Instituto de Historia Natural. Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.1982 Los Reptiles  de  Chiapas,  3rd edition. lnstituto de Historia Natural, TuxtlaGutierrez, Chiapas.Ambrose, S.H. and L. 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Mouton, TheHague.108APPENDIX ONEFLORAL AND FAUNAL SPECIES IN THE MAZATAN AREALITTORAL ZONEFLORA:Latin name Spanish name English name Reference*Achatocarpus nigricans limoncillo P:5Avicenia nitida madresal black mangrove C&F:14,V:21Batis maritima salad lila B:20Bromelia pinguin pinuela C&F:14Bursera excelsa copal copal P:5Canavalia maritima frijol& B:24Capparis indica clavelina B:24Conocarpus erecta botoncillo B:20,P:5Ipomoea pes-caprae pata de vaca B:24Laguncularia racemosa mangle blanco white mangrove V:20,B:20Prosopsis juliflora mezquite mesquite B:24,P:5Rhizophora mangle mangle colorado red mangrove V:20,B:20Salpianthus arenarius pie de paloma B:24Swietinia humilis cObano, zopilote mahogany P:5Ximenia parviflora ciruelillo B:24FAUNA:Agaronia testacea snail C&F:11,P:6Ajaia ajaja espatu la (waterbird) E&A:151Anadara reinharti pata de mula clam P:6Butorides virescens garcita verde green heron E&A:149Cardisoma crassum cangrejo azul mouth less crab F: 12Caiman crocodilus caiman cayman E&A:148Centropomus nigrescens robalo snook C&F:11Chelonia mydas parlama green sea turtle C&F:11Chione obliterata clam P:6Coendou mexicanus puercoespin porcupine C&F:12,E&A:155Crocodylus acutus cocodrilo de rio river crocodile C&F:11;E&A:132Ctenosaura similis iguana rayada black iguana C&F:11Dasypus novecinctus armadillo armadillo C&F:11Eudocimus albus ibis blanco (waterbird) E&A:151Fells pardalis ocelote ocelot E&A:156Goniopsis pulchra brujo small crab C&F:12Lepisosteus tropicus armado gar C&F:129,V:23Lutjanus colorado pargo red snapper C&F:11Mycteria americana cigiieriOn stork E&A:150APPENDIX/ 109Mytella falcata mejillOn mussel C&F:11Ocybode occidental is chichimeco beach crab C&F:11Ostrea columbiensis ostrea oyster C&F:11Diu cooperi tecolote manglero (owl) E&A:153Pandion haliaetus aguila pescadora eagle E&A:152Pelicanus occidentalus pelican° gris grey pelican E&A:149Polymesoda radiata marsh clam C&F:11Procyon lotor mapache raccoon C&F:12,E&A:156Sciades troschelli tacazonte marine catfish C&F:11Sesarma sulcatum pinto small crab C&F:12Strombus galeatus snail C&F:11Tamandua tetradactyla hormiguero collared anteater C&F:12,E&A:155SHORT-TREE SAVANNA ZONEFLORA:Acacia pennatula espino blanco B:16Acrocomia mexicana coyol coyol palm B:16Alvaradoa amorphoides palo de hormiga B:16Bursera simaruba palo mulato E&A:111Byrsonima crassifolia nanche nance B:16Cordia dodecandcra cupape B:16Crescentia cujete jicaro calabash B:16Curatella americana cacahito B:16Enterolobium cyclocarpum guanacaste E&A:113Hymenacea courbaril guapinol E&A:110Piscidia piscipula matapiojo B:16Quercus oleoides roble oak B:16Sabal mexicana palma real fan palm H:59Scheelea preussi corozo, manaca corozo palm H:59Tetracera volubilis bejuco B:16FAUNA:Agkistrodon bilineatus cantil (snake) E&A:116Burhinus bistriatus alcaravan (waterbird) E&A:119Ceryle torquata pescador gigante kingfisher E&A:121Dasyprocta punctata guaqueque alazan (rodent) E&A:125Lepus flavigularis liebre hare E&A:124Nasua narica tejOn coati C&F:15Ortalis spp. chachalaca (bird) E&A:118Sylvilagus floridanus conejo cottontail C&F:15Urocyon cinereoargenteus zorra grey fox C&F:15FLORA:CANTILNA SWAMPAPPENDIX/ 110Eichhornia crassipes jacinto de agua water hyacinth B:20Pachira aquatica zapote de agua water zapote B.20Pontedaria sagiata lirio de agua water lily P:6FAUNA:Ajaija ajaja garza espatual (waterbird) P:6Anas discors cerceta widgeon P:6Ate les geoffroyo mono arana spider monkey Ab:314,E&A:140Caiman crocodilus caimän cayman Ab:331Centropomus sp. robalo snook V:23Cairina moschata patOn duck P:6Cichlasoma timaculatum mojarra bass V:23Constrictor constrictor boa; mazacuata boa Ab:331,E&A:133Cuniculus paca tepezcuintle spotted cavy Aa:36,E&A:141Dasypus novemcintus armadillo armadillo Ab:302,E&A:124Dendrocignas autumnalis ph^iji (waterbird) P:6Eleotridae (Fam.) sambuco (small fish) V:23Felis pardalis ocelote ocelot E&A:143Fulica americana gal lereta coot P:6Iguana iguana iguana de ribera water iguana E&A:133Kinosternon cruentatum casquito amarillo soup turtle Aa:39,V:23Lepisosteus tropicus armado gar V:23Nasua narica tejOn coati Aa:36;E&A:142Odocoileus virginianus venado de campo deer Ab:302;E&A:127Pantherarlca jaguar jaguar Ab:321,E&A:143Pseudemys scripta jicotea black turtle Ab:332,A:43Staurotypus salvinii cruzalluchi snapping turtle Aa:41COASTAL PLAIN: TROPICAL DECIDUOUS AND EVERGREEN SEASONAL FORESTSFLORA:Achras zapota chicozapote sapodilla C&F:14,E&A:58Annona cherimoya cherimoya custard apple B:16A., reticulata anona B:16muricata guandbana B:16Astronium graveolens jocotillo B:12Brosimum alicastrum ramOn breadnut B:12Bursera simaruba palo mulato B:16Calycophyllum candidissimum camer6n B:16Calyptranthes chiapensis pimienta B:14APPENDIX/ 111Carica papayaCastilla elasticaCedrela oaxacensisCeiba aesculifoliaCeiba pentandraCordia alliodoraEnterolobium cyclocarpum Eugenia acapulcensis Ficus glaucescensGodmania aesculifoliaHymenaea courbaril Ipomoea murucoides Lafoensia pun icaefoliaLeucaena esculentaLicania arboreaLuehea candidaLysiloma auritum Persea americanaPlatymiscium dimorphandrum Psidium guayabaRheedia edulisSapium macrocarpumSpondias mombin Sterculia mexicanaStyrax argenteus Swietenia humilis Swietenia macrophyllaTabebuia chrysanthaL Lo_a_eaTheobroma cacao Vatairea LundeIli papaya^papayahule rubber treecedro^cedarceiba, pochote^ceibaceiba, pochote^ceibalaurelguanacastecapulinamate prieto^black figroble cachudoguapinolpalo bobocampana, granadilloguajetopostealgodoncillochicharrOnaguacate^avocadohormiguilloguayaba^guavazapotillo, limoncilloamatillociruela^hog plumcastano chestnutcapulincObano^mahoganycaoba mahoganylombricilloroble coloradocacao^cacaosacaceraC:49E&A:59B:16B:16B:16B:16B:14B:14B:14B:16B:14,E&A:110B:16B:14R&E:50B:14B:16B:16C:49B:14C:49B:14B:14B:16B:14B:14B:16E&A:57B:16B:16C:49B:14FAUNA:Agriocharis ocellataAgkistrodon bilineatusAlouatta villosaAra macaoAratinga can icularisAteles geoffroyi Both rops spp.Caluromys derbianusCanis latrans ChironectesCoendou mexicanusConstrictor constrictorCrax Lulupavo oceladocantilmono saraguatoguacamayocotorramono arananauyacatlacuachillocoyotetlacuachillopuercoespinboa, mazacuatahocofaisanwild turkey(snake)howler monkeymacawparrotspider monkey(snake)(marsupial)coyote(marsupial)porcupineboapheasantE&A:68E&A:116E&A:73E&A:69E&A:120E&A:73E&A:65E&A:70E&A:125E&A:70E&A:75E&A:64E&A:67APPENDIX/ 112Cuniculus paca tepezcuintle spotted cavy E&A:76;F:14Dasypus novemcinctus armadillo armadillo E&A:75Desmodus rotundus vamp iro vampire bat E&A:71Fells pardalis ocelote ocelot E&A:80Fel is yagouaroundi leoncillo jaguarundi E&A:127Galictis allamandi grisOn grison E&A:79Harpia harpyja dguila arpia eagle E&A:67Iguana iguana iguana de ribera river iguana E&A:63Lepus flavigularis liebre hare E&A:124Luna annectens nutria river otter E&A:79Mephitis macroura zorrillo rayado hooded skunk E&A:126Nasua narica tejem coati E&A:77Odocoileus virginianus venado de campo white-tail deer E&A:127Panthera on ca jaguar jaguar E&A:81Eolo5 fialt_ul mico de noche kinkajou E&A:78, F:14Procyon lotor mapache raccoon E&A:77Ramphastos sulfuratus tucan toucan E&A:69Tamandua tetradactyla hormiguero anteater E&A:74Tapirus bairdii tapir tapir E&A:82Tayassu tajacu jabali de collar collared peccary E&A:82lay_La.^barbara viejo de monte tayra E&A:78Urocyon cinereoargenteus zorra gris grey fox E&A:126THE PIEDMONT: LOWER MONTANE RAIN FORESTFLORA:Achras zapota chicozapote sapodilla L:62Annona cherimoya chiramoya custard apple L:62A, diversifolia papausa L:62A, muricata guandbana L:63A, reticulata anona L:62Artocarpus &Ida palo de pan breadfruit L:62Belotia mexicana capulin B:10Brosimum alicastrum ram& breadnut B:8Calocaroum zapota zapote colorado mamey L:62Calophyllum brasiliense cedro cimarrOn brown cedar B:10Cassia grandis caiia fistula B:8Cedrela mexicana cedro L:62Chrysophyllum mexicanum zapote B:10Cordia alliadora laurel laurel L:62Crescentia cujete jicara, morro calabash L:63Cymbopetalum penduliflorum orejuela B:10Dialium guianense guach wild tamarind B:8Dracaena americana campanillo B:8Erblichia xylocarpa asta blanca B:8APPENDIX/ 113Ficus spp. amate fig B:8Hirtella racemosa icaquillo B:8higa laurina caspirol L:62higa peterno paterna L:62higa micheliana cashniquil L:62Licania playtpus zapote amarillo yellow zapote B:10Licaria peckii pimientillo B:8Manilkara achras zapote zapote B:10Nectandra sinuata aguacatillo B:10Ochroma lagopus corcho balsa L:62Ocotea rubriflora laurel laurel B:10Persea americana aguacate avocado L:62Pithecellobium arboreum aguacillo B:8Platimiscium dimorphandrum hormiguillo L:62Poulsenia armata mazamorro B:8Protium copal copal copal B:8Quercus oleoides roble oak B:10Quercus Skinneri roble oak B:10Rinorea guatemalensis frutillo B:10Scheelea preusii manaca, corozo L:63Stemmadenia Donnell-Smithii chapona B:10Swietenia macrophylla caoba mahogany B:8Talauma mexicana flor del corazOn B:8Terminalia amazonia almendro, cashan B:8Theobroma cacao cacao cacao L:63Trema floridana capulin cimarrem L:63Trophis racemosa tulipan B:10Vatairea Lundellii sacacera B:8Wimmeria bartletti lombricillo B:8FAUNA:Agriocharis ocellata pavo ocelado ocellated turkey L:69Allouatta villosa mono saraguato howler monkey L:69Ara spp. guacamayo macaw L:69Artibeus jamaicensis murcielago bat L:69Ateles geoffroyi mono arana spider monkey L:69Buteo nitidus gavilan grey hawk L:69Coendou mexicanus puercoespin porcupine L:69Constrictor constrictor boa, mazacuata boa L:69Crotalus durissus cascabel tropical rattlesnake L:69Ctenosaura pectinata iguana iguana L:69Cuniculus paca tepezcuintle spotted cavy L:69Dasyprocta punctata guaqueque agouti L:69Dasypus novemcinctus armadillo armadillo L:69Desmodus rotundus vampiro vampire bat L:69Felis oisLa jaguar jaguar L:69APPENDIX/ 114Fells pardal is ocelote ocelot L:69Fells yagouaroundi leoncillo jaguarundi L:69Harpia harpyja aguila arpia harpy eagle L:69Hetrogeomys hispidus pocket gopher L:69Leptophis ahetulla green snake L:69Lutra annectens nutria river otter L:69Mazama americana venado cabrito brocket deer L:69Mephitis macroura zorri I lo rayado hooded skunk L:69Nasua narica tejein coati L:69Odocoileus virginianus venado de campo white-tailed deer L:69Pharomachrus mocino quetzal quetzal L:69Potos flavus mico de noche kinkajou L:69Procyon lotor mapache raccoon L:69Ramphastos sulfuratus tucdn toucan L:69Rhinoptynx clamator striped owl L:69Sarcoramph us papa zopilote rey king vulture L:69Sylvilagus brasiliensis conejo forest rabbit L:69Tamandua tetradactyla hormiguero anteater L:69Tapiris bairdii tapir tapir L:69Tayassu tajacu jabalf de collar collared peccary L:69Urocyon cinereoargenteus zorra grey fox L:69*ReferencesAa Alvarez del Toro (1982) E&A Eccardi and Alvarez del ToroAb Alvarez del Toro (1990) H Helbig (1964)B Breedlove (1981) L Lowe et al. (1982)C Clark (n.d.) P Pailles (1980)C&F Coe and Flannery (1967) V Voorhies (1976)


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