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The Conquest of the Hill of the Sun: Indigenous Domestic Life at Prehispanic and Colonial Achiutla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Jamie Forde, University of Colorado, Boulder, Junior Fellow 2013–2014

My dissertation research integrates archaeological, ethnohistorical, and iconographic data in a focused case study to examine how the indigenous peoples of Mexico coped with Spanish colonial rule during the early decades of contact with Europeans. My research is focused on the site of Achiutla, in the Mixtec region of the modern state of Oaxaca, where I recently carried out archaeological excavations of indigenous households dating to the early colonial period. Pre-Columbian codices and colonial chronicles indicate that Achiutla was an important native religious center prior to the conquest, the home of an oracle that was venerated throughout the region and abroad. Colonial legal records document numerous instances of conflict between indigenous residents and the Spanish authorities and clerics. In focusing on households and material evidence, I examine how this rather traumatic historical rupture affected daily life, in ways that are not accounted for in the historical record. My research has been enhanced greatly by a fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, where I analyzed and synthesized data from the excavation project at Achiutla. The outstanding library for Pre-Columbian Studies was an invaluable resource, providing access to literature often difficult to find elsewhere. Furthermore, given the interdisciplinary nature of my research, I benefitted greatly from the scholarly community at Dumbarton Oaks, both within the Pre-Columbian Studies program and beyond. Among other things, this led to a collaborative examination of the connections between Mixtec and Nahua pictorial codices with Élodie Dupey García.