Prosperity, power, and change: Modeling maize at Postclassic Xaltocan, Mexico

Christopher T. Morehart, Dan T.A. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Documenting the relationship between agriculture and political economy occupies the center of much research and debate in anthropological archaeology. This study examines this issue by focusing on maize at Xaltocan, a Postclassic community located in the northern Basin of Mexico. We consider how different mechanisms of distribution, circulation, and production can influence maize variation. We analyze maize variability through time at Xaltocan and the community's chinampa system and interpret patterns of variation in relation to its historical trajectory. This methodological and interpretive approach offers an innovative means to understand how agricultural practices transformed in relation to changing conditions of prosperity and power, especially the links between tribute, market exchange, conflict, and regional demography. Our study also speaks to broader, dichotomous perspectives that model the organization of agricultural systems, revealing that the strategies of both agriculturalists and the state often converge at local levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-112
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • Aztec
  • Basin of Mexico
  • Maize
  • Mesoamerica
  • Mexico
  • Paleoethnobotany
  • Political economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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