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Title:The pearl divers of Los Frailes: Archaeological and ethnohistorical explorations of sumptuary good trade and cosmology in the North and Central Andes
Author(s):Mester, Ann Marie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lathrap, Donald W.; Zuidema, R.T.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Archaeology
Abstract:This dissertation makes significant contributions to the current understanding of both the archaeology and the ethnohistory of the North and Central Andes in the immediate pre-Contact period.
The first part of the dissertation consists of an archaeological study of an early Manteno pearl shell workshop and related features, uncovered during excavations conducted at the Los Frailes Mound Complex on the southern coast of Manabi Province, Ecuador. Los Frailes has been identified as the ancient town of Tusco, one of four core towns in the contact-period Senorio de Salangome, a polity based on long-distance maritime trade in sumptuary goods. The dissertation establishes the role of specialized, single-product workshops in the Manteno trading organization. Detailed descriptions of the shell artifacts, the tools used to work the shell, and the techniques of bead and plaque manufacture are presented. Drawing on detailed interpretation of physical stratigraphy, as well as on modal analysis of ceramic attributes, the Los Frailes ceramic analysis presents a careful micro-chronology of the earliest part of the Manteno phase, making more clear its antecedents with the earlier Guangala phase. This research has pinpointed the importance of the two pearl oysters, namely Pteria sterna, and Pinctada mazatlantica, to the long-distance trading network linking Ecuadorian coastal polities with the rest of the Andes.
The remainder of the dissertation is devoted to the analysis of pertinent ethnohistorical and ethnographic data relevant to the role of the pearl oyster in Andean cosmology. First, it describes the pearl fishing industries maintained during the Spanish colonial period. It then draws on the major published ethnohistorical sources of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in a presentation of the role of the pearl oyster in Andean cosmology. It establishes links between Andean sumptuary goods and color symbolism with American cosmology more generally, and suggests how sumptuary good trade and manipulation served to legitimize the Inca elite through a manipulation of widely-accepted symbols for socio-political hierarchy.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Mester, Ann Marie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9026269
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9026269

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