For decades, the Chontalpa region of Tabasco, Mexico, conjured images of the possible origins of the Itzá, who migrated, conquered, or otherwise influenced much of Mesoamerica. In Oysters in the Land of Cacao, archaeologist Bradley E. Ensor provides an important resource for Mesoamerican Gulf Coast archaeology by offering a new and detailed picture of the coastal sites vital to understanding regional interactions and social dynamics.
This book synthesizes data from multiyear investigations at a coastal site complex in Tabasco&;Islas de Los Cerros (ILC)&;providing the first modern, systematic descriptions and analyses of material culture that challenge preconceptions while enabling new perspectives on cultural developments from the Formative to Late Classic periods through the lens of regional comparisons and contemporary theoretical trends. Ensor introduces a political ecological understanding of the environment and archaeological features, overturns a misconception that the latter were formative shell middens, provides an alternative pottery classification more appropriate for the materials and for contemporary theory, and introduces new approaches for addressing formation processes and settlement history.
Building on the empirical analyses and discussions of problems in Mesoamerican archaeology, this book contributes new approaches to practice and agency perspectives, holistically integrating intra- and interclass agency, kinship strategies, gender and age dynamics, layered cultural identities, landscapes, social memory, and foodways and feasting. Oysters in the Land of Cacao addresses issues important to coastal archaeology within and beyond Mesoamerica. It delivers an overdue regional synthesis and new observations on settlement patterns, elite power, and political economies.