book cover
Download Sample PDF

H 290 x W 205 mm

468 pages

321 figures

Published Feb 2020

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781789693539

Digital: 9781789693546

Recommend to a librarian

West Mexico; sociocultural anthropology; ethnohistory; ethnoarchaeology; Mesoamerican ecumene

Related titles

Archaeopress Pre-Columbian Archaeology 12

Ancient West Mexico in the Mesoamerican Ecumene

By Eduardo Williams

Includes PDF

PDF eBook
(personal use)

PDF eBook
(institutional use)

Add to basket

Add to wishlist

This volume presents a long-overdue synthesis and update on West Mexican archaeology. Ancient West Mexico has often been portrayed as a ‘marginal’ or ‘underdeveloped’ area of Mesoamerica. This book shows that the opposite is true and that it played a critical role in the cultural and historical development of the Mesoamerican ecumene.



Preface ;

Chapter I Introduction ;
Mesoamerica: Debates and Perspectives over Time ;
The Mesoamerican Ecumene ;
West Mexico in the Mesoamerican Ecumene ;
Discussion and Conclusions

Chapter II History of Archaeological Research in West Mexico ;
Part 1. History of Archaeological Research in Michoacán ;
Part 2. History of Archaeological Research in Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Sinaloa ;
Final Remarks

Chapter III First Inhabitants and Early Cultural Development ;
Geographical Background of West Mexico ;
Paleoindian Period: West Mexico’s First Inhabitants ;
Archaic Period: First Examples of Settled Life ;
Final Remarks

Chapter IV The Formative Period (ca. 1500 BC-AD 300) ;
The Mesoamerican Ecumene during the Formative Period ;
The Middle Formative Period in West Mexico ;
The Late Formative Period in West Mexico ;
Cultural Relations between West and Central Mexico in the Formative ;
Final Remarks

Chapter V The Classic Period (ca. AD 250/300-900) ;
The Mesoamerican Ecumene during the Classic Period ;
The Classic Period in West Mexico ;
Cultural Relations between West and Central Mexico during the Classic Period ;
Final Remarks

Chapter VI The Postclassic Period (ca. AD 900-1521) ;
Part 1. The Central and Southern Areas of the Mesoamerican Ecumene in the Postclassic Period ;
Part 2. The Postclassic Period in West Mexico ;
Final Remarks

Chapter VII The Tarascan Empire in the Mesoamerican Ecumene ;
The Tarascan Empire in the Protohistoric Period (ca. AD 1450-1530) ;
The Lake Cuitzeo Basin: A Key Economic Area of the Tarascan Empire ;
Trade, Tribute and Transportation within the Tarascan Empire ;
Final Remarks

Chapter VIII Discussion and Conclusions ;

References Cited

About the Author

Eduardo Williams has been involved in West Mexican archaeology and ethnohistory since receiving his BA degree in 1982. He obtained his PhD degree from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, in 1989. Williams joined the faculty of the Colegio de Michoacán (Zamora, Mexico) in 1990, where he holds the post of Professor in the Center for Archaeological Research. He has been a visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology, University of California at Los Angeles (1988); the Middle-American Research Institute, Tulane University (New Orleans) (1998); and the Department of Anthropology, Tulane University (2012). The following books stand out among Williams’ contributions to West-Mexican archaeology: La sal de la tierra (Colegio de Michoacán, 2003; awarded the Alfonso Caso Prize the Mexican Institute of Anthropology and History [INAH]); Water Folk: Reconstructing an Ancient Aquatic Lifeway in Michoacán, Western Mexico (Archaeopress, 2014); and Tarascan Pottery Production in Michoacán, Mexico (Archaeopress, 2017).


'For far too long, west Mexican prehistory has been the poor stepchild of Mesoamerican studies. Eduardo Williams’ book demonstrates the connections between this neglected region and the better-known areas of the Mesoamerican world. One of the strengths of Eduardo’s book is that he puts the history of archaeological and ethnographic research into perspective… Williams links west Mexican cultures and sites to the wider world of Mesoamerica. Other writers have either ignored the subject or only touched on it lightly. Eduardo documents the important connections. For those learning about the Mesoamerican world, these specific, documented connections are invaluable… I think this will be the “go-to” volume for anyone who wants either a broad overview or to compare different regions and developments (e.g. settlement, trade, social organization) through time…' - Prof. Robert B. Pickering, The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma
'Williams’ bridging of the past and present through ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and ethnoarchaeological data centered on the importance of aquatic lifeways is a much-needed thread of continuity and identity where none previously existed. Critiques noted previously aside, this a solid piece of work and one that I am excited to hopefully see make its way into classrooms and onto bookshelves.' - Anthony DeLuca (2021), Ethnoarchaeology
'There is no doubt that this is the book my students have been asking for in the way of a comprehensive overview of the archaeology of western Mexico.' - Christopher Beekman (2021), Latin American Antiquity