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This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges     Students
Type: Paper
Paper Title: CONTINUITY BEYOND CONTENT: THE MECHANISMS OF MATERIALITY AND THE TAPHONOMY OF A SIGNIFICANT PLACE
Author: CHRISTOPHER MOREHART (Northwestern University)   
Date/Time: Wed., 5:00 PM
Co-Author(s): CHRISTOPHER MOREHART (Northwestern University) 
Abstract: A tension between continuity and discontinuity characterizes how scholars traverse the particular and the general to understand ritual behavior in material and immaterial terms. The archaeology of ritual increasingly takes two forms: the search for underlying meaning and the analysis of practice. Paradoxically, connecting these two facets is challenging. This paper elucidates this issue by examining ritual continuity at a shrine located in Lake Xaltocan in central Mexico. Ritual practitioners conducted rites at this place at varying degrees of intensity and expression for almost 1000 years, suggesting persistent continuity despite major shifts in the political and cultural landscape. How can we explain this perseverance in the face of the dramatic changes that this region experienced? An approach toward meaning would stress a widespread belief in the significance of water. An approach toward practice would consider the role of ritual relative to local relationships. Neither of these address how past people physically and subjectively confronted the pre-exiting materiality of this place. Thus, this paper centers on the mechanisms whereby people encountered, recognized, re-created, or forgot tangible continuities in potentially disparate cultural schemes shaping ritual practice. This approach considers not simply the durable materiality of this place and its artifactual imprint but also how site formation processes animated its physicality.

Program Number: 1-0390
Session Title: SPACE, PLACE, AND LANDSCAPE IN THE OLD AND NEW WORLDS
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Wed., 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
Organizer(s): ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM COMMITTEE (AAA) 
Chair(s): DEEANNE WYMER (Bloomsburg University)  
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