M.A. Theses: James Murray White, 1976

The Cultural Sequence at Chicomucelo, Chiapas.

The thesis presents the results of an archaeological reconnaissance in the Municipality of Chicomucelo, within the Central Depression of the State of Chiapas, Mexico. The analysis of data from the 73 sites recorded during the reconnaissance has resulted in the delineation of a cultural sequence spanning the last 3000 years. The sequence is composed of the following six periods with one large discontinuity in data. Each period can be characterized by at least one major event. The La Ceiba period (1050 - 550 B.C.) represents the earliest Olmec-influenced occupation, and is followed by a 500 year hiatus. The following Jolenton period (50 B.C. - A.D. 400) marks the beginning of trade with cultures of the Pacific coast. This trade route appears to have been extended northward into the Peten during the following Limonal period 400 - 800). The Nueva America period ( A.D. 800 - 1000) was a time of population expansion to a karstic, thin soiled, hilly plateau region, where large towns developed. During the Yayahuita period (A.D. 1000 - 1528) there was a depopulation and abandonment of the hilly plateau region, although people remained in the river bottomlands. The Chicomucelo period (A.D 1528 - Present) has evidence of three settlement sites in the river bottomlands, with some local industrial activity.

The thesis turns to the problem of the depopulation of the hilly plateau region between A.D. 1000 and 1528. Guidelines around which a ecological model can be articulated are derived from other relevant studies. Rainfall is a variable climatic feature today, and it is thought that its variation at A.D. 1000 is a likely cause of the disruption of the agricultural system. The adaptive social response would probably have been reproductive limitation, i.e., older ages at marriage, the reduction of the number of marriages, and family limitation practices. Depopulation would then have resulted from the combination of the climatic change and such adaptive social responses.