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Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 189–241 | Cite as

Current Research on the Gulf Coast of Mexico

  • Christopher A. Pool
Original Paper

Abstract

The Gulf Coast of Mesoamerica is a culturally and environmentally heterogeneous area that encompasses the lowlands along the Gulf of Mexico as well as rugged inland highlands. Blessed with a wealth of valued resources and a favorable geographical setting, the pre-Hispanic Gulf Coast played a critical role as a cultural and economic crossroads, and its cultures contributed vital elements to other Mesoamerican traditions. Gulf Coast archaeology currently is experiencing the most active period in its history. This recent research underscores the diversity and dynamism of the area's cultures and environment. An enormous expansion of settlement pattern studies reveals considerable diversity in sociopolitical organization, urbanism, and human–land relationships. A second important trend focuses on documenting and understanding variation in craft production and exchange systems. A third is the continuing emphasis on interregional interaction through all time periods. These three foci merge in a growing interest in variation and change in Gulf Coast political economies. Future research will need to incorporate theoretical perspectives that focus on the generation of cultural variation, including agency-based models of technological choice and political economy, as well as those, like Darwinian approaches, that emphasize the differential persistence of variation.

Keywords

Mesoamerica Gulf Coast Archaeology Current research 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thank Gary Feinman and T. Douglas Price for their invitation to submit this article to the Journal of Archaeological Research. Olaf Jaime-Riverón and Wesley D. Stoner offered valuable assistance in the bibliographic research for this article. I am also grateful to Annick Daneels for providing several Mexican publications that stymied the efforts of Kentucky's Interlibrary Loan office. Philip J. Arnold, III, Barbara L. Stark, Gary M. Feinman, Linda M. Nicholas, and two anonymous reviewers vastly improved the article with their comments, but I alone bear responsibility for omissions and errors that escaped their scrutiny.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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