Research Programs: Collaborative Research

Period of Performance

11/1/2012 - 6/30/2018

Funding Totals

$280,000.00 (approved)
$280,000.00 (awarded)

Origins of the Mesoamerican City: Ritual and Polity at La Venta, Tabasco, Mexico

FAIN: RZ-51497-12

Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL 32306-0001)
Mary DeLand Pohl (Project Director: December 2011 to present)
Christopher L. von Nagy (Co Project Director: December 2011 to present)
Rochelle Marrinan (Co Project Director: March 2015 to present)
Rochelle Marrinan (Co Project Director: March 2015 to present)

The excavation, analysis, and creation of a website dedicated to the findings on social, economic, and ritual practices of the neighborhood populations living near the Olmec city of La Venta (800-400 BCE). (36 months)

The Olmec civilization was one of the earliest to develop in the Americas. The city of La Venta (800-400 BCE) was the prototypical sacred urban template on which later Maya and Aztec rulers modeled their cities. Yet knowledge of the internal social and economic dynamics of the La Venta polity is lacking. Excavation data come almost entirely from limited areas of the central elite core of the ceremonial city. We seek to understand the evolution of La Venta within the context of the neighborhood populations living in a changing riverine landscape. We hypothesize that La Venta's ritual practices structured the underlying cultural framework that organized politics, economics, social status, and warfare within the polity. The research encompasses the disciplines of art history, archaeology, anthropology, geosciences, and religion.

Associated Products

General collections (Acquisitions/Materials Collection)
Name: General collections
Abstract: Materials recovered during excavations at Quiotepec-Oxtotitlán by Urban Origins project personnel (UO 2014) and by National Institute of Anthropology and History personnel (PEO 2008) formed the core of archaeological materials analyzed in 2015, 2016, and 2017 at UNAM. Material culture recovered include ceramics, lithics, shell, fiber, insect, and historic material culture collections. In addition to material culture, collections include soil samples for micro-botanical analysis, zooarchaeological (including insect remains), paleobotanical materials recovered through flotation, paint pigment and substrate samples from Oxtotitlán art, and carbon for radiometric dating. Radiometric, stylistic, and technological dating situate the collections from the Early Formative through to the contemporary period; however, the bulk of materials are Early through Middle Formative in date correlating with the period of creation of major polychrome figures at Oxtotitlán Cave (eq. C-1 and C-2). Core analysis of these materials has been completed and, except as otherwise noted, collections are currently at a Guerrero Regional Center of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) storage facility where they remain available for future specialized analyses.
Director: Mary D Pohl
Director: Christopher L. von Nagy
Year: 2017