South America and Mesoamerica

By James, N.; Strudwick, Helen | Antiquity, June 2002 | Go to article overview

South America and Mesoamerica


James, N., Strudwick, Helen, Antiquity


TOM D. DILLEHAY. The archaeological context and interpretation: errata (Monte Verde: a late Pleistocene settlement in Chile 2). Pages, figures, tables. 2002. Washington (DC): Smithsonian Institution Press; 1-58834-029-5 paperback.

The errata for Prof. DILLEHAY's important book (reviewed in ANTIQUITY 73: 944-7) are on about 200 pages. The Press explains itself on p. iii.

PAULINA LEDERGERBER-CRESPO (ed.). Formativo sudamericano, una revaluacion--ponencias presentadas en el Simposio internacional de Arqueologia Sudamericana, Cuenca, Ecuador, 13-17 de enero de 1992: homenaje a Alberto Rex Gonzalez y Betty J. Meggers. 404 pages, 128 figures, 7 tables. 1999. Quito: Abya-Yala; 9978-04-466-3 paperback.

COLIN MCEWAN, CRISTIANA BARRETO & EDUARDO NEVES (ed.). Unknown Amazon. 304 pages, 226 colour & b&w figures, 1 table. 2001. London: British Museum; 0-7141-2558-X paperback 19.99 [pounds sterling].

The core of Formativo sudamericano is a review of evidence for the Formative period in South America (three articles on Colombia, five on Ecuador, four on Peru, three on Chile, one on Bolivia, three on Argentina, and a couple each on Brazil and Venezuela). Most of the contributors are South Americans and, but for those on Brazil, in Portuguese, all write in Spanish. BJM herself rounds it all off in typical style by reviewing `the ecological context'. With an eye to Amazonia, but in sympathy with voices from a few other quarters recently, she remarks that the development of hierarchy was not the only way for societies to cohere. Survival is the bottom line, however, she avers ....

Yet, in the first part of Unknown Amazon, G. Politis argues that, far from `determined' by it, foragers `built' the rain forest. Survival, he says, was a spiritual process. Indeed, the following chapter shows that various economies have long been practiced; and his point about Indian awareness that the landscapes are partly anthropogenic is complemented by the other chapter on economics, an appraisal of the `dark earths'. The second set of essays is on pottery; the third on iconography, including essays on basketry and rock art; and the last on the period of `contacts' with Europeans. Not only is the book valuable for reviewing a region now emerging from archaeological obscurity (cf. ANTIQUITY 72: 571ff) but it is also very well illustrated and elegantly produced.

WILLIAM M. FERGUSON & RICHARD E.W. ADAMS. Mesoamerica's ancient cities (2nd edition), xii+260 pages, colour & b&w figures. 2001. Albuquerque (NM): University of New Mexico Press; 0-8263-2801-6 paperback $34.95.

Splendidly illustrated too, the text of ancient cities has been up-dated. Prof. ADAMS has added a short chapter on `Regional states and empires' which helps to show a pattern in all the evidence.

DAVID WEBSTER. The fall of the ancient Maya: solving the mystery of the Maya collapse. 368 pages, 55 figures, 29 b&w photographs, 1 table. 2002. London: Thames & Hudson; 0-500-05113-5 hardback 19.95 [pounds sterling].

TRACI ARDREN (ed.). Ancient Maya women. xiv+293 pages, 69 figures, 5 tables. 2002. Walnut Creek (CA): Altamira; 0-7591-0009-8 hardback $75, 0-7591-0010-1 paperback $29.95.

JOHN MONTGOMERY. How to read Maya hieroglyphs. xvi+360 pages, 307 figures, tables, 9 colour plates.

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