Recent Research at San Isidro, El Salvador, in the Context of Southeastern Mesoamerican Archaeology (2020-12-31)
Archaeology of the extreme southeast of Mesoamerica, despite receiving a fair amount of scholarly attention, still remains a relatively poorly developed field. In this article I identify main factors that hamper our understanding of the ancient past of this region, including population density, volcanism, multiple historical reasons, and exceptionally uneven distribution of data from different periods. The second half of the Preclassic period (ca. 1000 BC - AD 250) seems to be the most understudied, and likely the most crucial time for the southeastern boundary of Mesoamerica from the perspective of reconstructing processes of cultural dynamics and emergence of identities. I offer a probable, if only partial solution to the problem by presenting recent advances, and future directions of my ongoing research at a large Preclassic site of San Isidro, Sonsonate, El Salvador. I argue that even at the early stage of investigation San Isidro shows great potential for providing the missing data.
Tapestry-Woven Textiles from Castillo de Huarmey, Peru and the Wari-Huarmey Textile Tradition (2021-05-24)
Peruvian tapestries are prestige textiles, known for their mosaic-like patterns made of multicoloured yarns. Numerous tapestry fragments from the Middle Horizon Period (650-1050 A.D.) were found at the Castillo de Huarmey archaeological site on the North Coast of Peru, where an intact Wari royal mausoleum was discovered. Relying on technological and iconographical analyses and, also on the context of the entire textile collection, a new Middle Horizon tradition associated with the expansion of Wari culture is proposed.
The concept of space in Classic Mayan (2021-10-01)
The ancient Maya civilization left us a significant corpus of glyphic inscriptions, a large portion of which consists of historical records, meticulously dating events and time elapsed between them – births, accessions and deaths of rulers, wars, ceremonies, visits and family relationships between royal dynasties, etc. (see Martin and Grube 2008). Time being such a prominent topic, the texts contain a number of time-related terms, including (1) event-based expressions (ti ik’ k’in ‘at black day / at dusk / at night’; i pas ‘then at dawn’; si[h]yajiiy ‘(X years) after s/he was born’), (2) conceptualizations which are potentially and likely spatial in nature as they appear both in locative expressions and temporal adverbials (preposition ti ‘in/on/at/with/as; the verb uht ‘to happen’ and deictic verb hul ‘to arrive’; tu paat + date ‘on the back of / after), and finally, (3) non-spatial metaphorical conceptualizations, such as reification and personification of the units of time. Sweetser and Gaby (2017, 626) notice that “crosslinguistically, the single primary historical source for temporal vocabulary is spatial vocabulary” and it is an overwhelming tendency observed in numerous languages around the world. Levinson and Wilkins (2006c, 6) also pose an interesting question how much spatial information is coded in language and how much is inferred from context and our knowledge of the world around us. The concept of space being so basic and significant, surprisingly little has been published on how space was conceptualized in Maya texts of the Classic Period (250-950 CE). Thus, this paper investigates how the domain of space is coded in Classic Mayan, a grapholect recorded in Maya glyphic inscriptions, how the language expresses relationships of containment, contiguity and adjacency, the manner and path of motion events, as well as available frames of reference to locate objects which are separated in space.
The Lunar Series and eclipse cycles at Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico (2021-10-01)
A great number of Maya hieroglyphic texts consisted of a series of dated events connected by counts of days between them. These counts of days were represented by so-called Distance Numbers (hereafter DNs), which added or subtracted specific numbers of days to link important dates and associated events. On certain occasions, the intervals represented by the DNs conformed to numerical-calendric or astronomical cycles. The Maya timekeepers of Palenque used DNs representing the multiples of 11960 days, which identified with the Dresden Codex Eclipse Table seem to evoke eclipse cycles. In this paper, I will argue that they should be treated as intervals to compute the Lunar Series rather than eclipse cycles.
Wari Women as symbols of power; and a case for client states (2021-10-05)
This paper explores the characteristics of the expansion of the Wari empire. It reviews the evidence across the Andean region where the data for the relationship of the imperial elite with local ruling hierarchies is demonstrably varied. Assorted strategies pragmatically deployed by Wari served to exert its control and reflect a client state approach to its growth. The political basis for its relationship with the local elites is considered based on polygamous marriage structures and marriage alliances arranged between the imperial ruling circle and the regional chiefs, thereby creating kin structures with inequal duties and obligations of the regional polities with the imperial centre. This model is derived from Late Horizon ethnohistorical sources and tested in the available archaeological data.
Body and person concept: introduction to the Q’eros ontology from the Vilcanota mountain range, Peru (2021-10-01)
The article presents the introduction to Q'eros ontology and addresses the most important ontological topics such as: person, body, health and disease. Detailed analysis of the concept of the body in q'eros ontology allows us to show the differences between animu and samay and show that they should be defined as material (body) elements even if they are invisible. It also considers issues such as health and disease by presenting its broad meaning (individual, collective, cosmological) and showing how a person is involved in a wide network of relationships and dependencies between different beings (human or non-human) who form a social whole.
The Sala de los Morteros at Machu Picchu: another precise astronomical instrument of the Incas? (2021-10-20)
The Mortar Room (Sala de los Morteros) is one of the buildings at Machu Picchu that has had an astronomical-calendar function attributed to it. The most elaborate hypothesis for this is that of Eulogio Cabada Hildebrandt, who established it based on a series of photos and measurements taken in 2006–2007.However, a precise reconstruction of the whole complex of buildings, based on 3D measurements and digital modeling as well as several other series of photos, shows that, in Inca times, the Sala de los Morteros could not have fulfilled the postulated astronomical function.One of the main challenges was the presence of roofs over this and neighbouring buildings, which made direct illumination of one of the ‘mortars’ impossible, and the possibility of illuminating the other, limited. For similar reasons, the use of the ‘mortars’ as mirrors for reflective astronomical observations or for zenithal observations of celestial bodies, has also been excluded.