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Classification and interpretation of marine shell artifacts from western Mexico

Novella, RA; (1992) Classification and interpretation of marine shell artifacts from western Mexico. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of the thesis is to examine the function and symbolism of worked shell artifacts from Western Mexico. This cultural area incorporates the modern states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima and Michoacan. The corpus of the material - more than 300 pieces ¬comes from ethnographic departments of museums in Mexico, Europe and the U.S.A., and from some private collections. Most of these pieces are without any details of provenance, context and date. Raw materials and techniques of manufacture are examined. The corpus of worked shell items is then presented, divided into groups and subgroups on the basis of formal criteria. The distribution and chronology of each group are presented and, where possible, the function of the artifact and the symbolism of the designs are discussed. This discussion draws upon various sources of information from West Mexico and elsewhere, including the ethnography of the modern Cora and Huichol Indians, early Spanish chronicle sources, excavation reports, and comparisons with pottery and stone figurines and with other archaeological materials. The aims of the discussion are to assess what the shell artifacts are intended to represent, why and when they were made, and what they meant to the people who made them. The final chapter deals with the questions of style in a broader sense. The groups and subgroups of the previous sections are recombined (on the basis of shared attributes) into four major Style Groups and six more loosely defined "traditions". The Style Groups are roughly contemporary (late Preclassic and Classic periods) but each one is centred on a particular area within the Occidente.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Classification and interpretation of marine shell artifacts from western Mexico
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116001
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