(El Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico)

Outline: The main objective of this project is to clarify the political organization of an early complex society in the central valleys of Jalisco in West Mexico through the implementation of a full-coverage, systematic survey methodology. Using traditional pedestrian survey techniques developed more than half a century ago, combined with new analytical tools such as GIS, we have put forth new explanations about the nature of this early complex society contributing, at the same time, to a better understanding of anthropologically important questions.

Abstract: The central valleys of Jalisco, Mexico, are widely known to the world for Tequila production and less so for their archaeology. At around 350 b.C., a new cultural development, characterized by circular architecture, was established that marks the appearance of an early complex society. A full-coverage systematic survey was implemented to identify and record all archaeological remains in order to answer learn about the political and economic organization of this early complex society. A combination of traditional (pedestrian survey and aerial photography) and modern methods (GPS and GIS) was used in the identification and spatial analysis of archaeological remains. Using areal photography we identified major sites that were subsequently corroborated in the field. However, even areas where archaeological remains were invisible on the photograph we systematically surveyed using transects with distances between 20-30 meters. We systematically surveyed 369 km2 and recorded 471 archaeological remains, 98 of which pertain to the earliest occupation periods, which is the focus of this paper. Our results suggest that the region was politically fragmented into various settlement clusters. Gravity models and cluster analysis indicate that each settlement cluster had a leading center with subject communities that controlled small territories and functioned semi independently from the largest known site called Los Guachimontones. The use of remote sensing methods and geospatial technologies (e.g., GPS and GIS) were key in answering anthropologically relevant questions and provided new insights pertaining to the level of political integration of the earliest complex society that developed here.

Keywords: GIS, regional survey, social complexity, Mesoamerica