"Summarizes almost three decades of archaeological research into the lifeways of the Late Archaic Chantuto people of Chiapas.... It provides insights into a little-known coastal adaptation during the important period in Mesoamerican prehistory when agriculture and permanent villages were being developed to replace a longstanding lifeway based on nomadic hunting and wild plant food gathering." - Robert N. Zeitlin, Brandeis University"Reseña del editor:
This is the only full-scale archaeological study of the ancient Mesoamericans who lived in a coastal habitat immediately prior to the onset of an agricultural way of life. Known as the last hunter-gatherer-fishers of the south Pacific coast of Mexico, the Chantuto people lived between 7,500 and 3,500 years ago, during the Middle and Late Archaic periods. They were the last people in the region to rely principally upon wild plants and animals. Because their successors were primarily farmers, the lives of the Chantuto people span the transition from foraging to farming - when permanent villages came to replace a nomadic existence - in a hot, humid environment. Working with thirty years of data from shell mounds and other site types in Pacific coastal Chiapas, the contributors to this important investigation present information on past and present environments, local geological processes, and detailed accounts of technical analyses of recovered food and artifactual remains. These data form the basis for inferences about the settlement system and economic lifeways of the ancient Chantuto people. Since the 1960s, when a trail-blazing study revealed how prehistoric inhabitants of an upland Mexican valley became increasingly dependent on only a few plants, archaeologists have sought comparable information for the tropical lowlands. This book supplies it in depth, exploring the surviving material culture of the Chantuto people and their ecological relationships to their biophysical environment. The archaeological sites are dated by means of radiocarbon assays and the methods of data recovery and interpretation range from replication experiments to ethnographic analogy. Especially useful for specialists in hunter-gatherer studies, this work makes an important contribution to the debate about the origins of agriculture. It will be invaluable for archaeologists interested in an up-to-date, comprehensive summary of a transitional society in the tropical lowlands of Mesoamerica.
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