The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Biological and spatial structure of an Early Classic Period cemetery at Charco Redondo, Oaxaca


Center for Bioarchaeological Research, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

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In the spring of 2011, archaeologists indentified two unique contexts in an Early Classic cemetery at Charco Redondo, Oaxaca. The cemetery included spatially distinct areas: Context 1 (n=20) and Context 2 (n=3). Context 2 differed from Context 1 in stratigraphic location and contained burials that did not conform to normative mortuary practices. Specifically, Context 2 yielded the three earliest, seated burials yet discovered in coastal Oaxaca; these three burials were intrusive to an isolated burn feature. This paper presents a spatially structured intracemetery analysis performed on the cemetery sample, using cervical enamel junction (CEJ) dimensions of the adult dentition. Results indicate that the spatial structure of the cemetery reflected biological distances between individuals from Context 1 and Context 2, suggestive of a general pattern of kin-structured burial. In addition, results indicate that individuals interred in Context 1 shared higher biological affinity than those individuals interred in Context 2. This suggests that the spatial patterning in the cemetery reflected dynamic, extended kingroup relationships, or local-nonlocal relationships within the community. These results inform interpretations of collective identity performance and group boundary maintenance within the realm of Early Classic, mortuary practices.

This material is based upon research supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship No. 2011121784.

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