Pre-pottery farmers on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico

Douglas James Kennett, Dolores R. Piperno, John G. Jones, Hector Neff, Barbara Voorhies, Megan K. Walsh, Brendan James Culleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Large island-like shell mounds along the southern coast of Mexico are the earliest known archaeological sites on the Pacific margin of Mesoamerica. These aceramic deposits date to between 7500 and 3800. cal. BP and have been interpreted as locations where foragers, living elsewhere seasonally on the coastal plain, harvested shellfish and other estuarine resources. Based on an accumulation of paleoecological data from elsewhere in the lowland Neotropics of Mesoamerica, southern Central America and South America we pose and provide a first test of an alternative subsistence model: that the Archaic Period populations in this area were slash and burn farmers. Burned maize phytoliths first appear in these sedimentary records at 6500. cal. BP in association with macroscopic charcoal and forest disturbance plant taxa. Periodic burning and forest disturbance, consistent with farming activities, are also evident in the macroscopic charcoal record between 6500 and 4700. cal. BP. Pollen, phytolith and charcoal records all point to sustained burning, forest disturbance and the cultivation of maize between 4700 and 3800. cal. BP. These data suggest that people were slash and burn farming during the Archaic Period prior to the adoption of pottery and the proliferation of Early Formative Period villages and full-fledged agriculture based on near or total reliance on crop plants after ∼3800. cal. BP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3401-3411
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume37
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Fingerprint

farmer
Mexico
Central America
proliferation
village
agriculture
resources
Farmers
Pacific Coast
Pottery
Charcoal
Slash-and-burn
Maize
Phytoliths
Mesoamerica
Archaic Period
Coast
Farming
Formative Period
Shell Mounds

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Kennett, D. J., Piperno, D. R., Jones, J. G., Neff, H., Voorhies, B., Walsh, M. K., & Culleton, B. J. (2010). Pre-pottery farmers on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(12), 3401-3411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.07.035
Kennett, Douglas James ; Piperno, Dolores R. ; Jones, John G. ; Neff, Hector ; Voorhies, Barbara ; Walsh, Megan K. ; Culleton, Brendan James. / Pre-pottery farmers on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico. In: Journal of Archaeological Science. 2010 ; Vol. 37, No. 12. pp. 3401-3411.
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Kennett, DJ, Piperno, DR, Jones, JG, Neff, H, Voorhies, B, Walsh, MK & Culleton, BJ 2010, 'Pre-pottery farmers on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico', Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 37, no. 12, pp. 3401-3411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.07.035

Pre-pottery farmers on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico. / Kennett, Douglas James; Piperno, Dolores R.; Jones, John G.; Neff, Hector; Voorhies, Barbara; Walsh, Megan K.; Culleton, Brendan James.

In: Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 37, No. 12, 01.01.2010, p. 3401-3411.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Kennett DJ, Piperno DR, Jones JG, Neff H, Voorhies B, Walsh MK et al. Pre-pottery farmers on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science. 2010 Jan 1;37(12):3401-3411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.07.035