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Ancestors and Elites: Emergent Complexity and Ritual Practices in the Casas Grandes Polity

Ancestors and Elites: Emergent Complexity and Ritual Practices in the Casas Grandes Polity

Hardback Archaeology of Religion (Hardcover)

By (author) Gordon F. M. Rakita

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  • Publisher: AltaMira Press,U.S.
  • Format: Hardback | 220 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 229mm x 23mm | 476g
  • Publication date: 16 April 2009
  • Publication City/Country: California
  • ISBN 10: 0759111286
  • ISBN 13: 9780759111288
  • Illustrations note: 1, black & white illustrations

Product description

Ancestors and Elites examines prehispanic ritual behaviors characteristic of the Casas Grandes region of Chihuahua, Mexico. Gordon Rakita analyzes the archaeological data from the site with respect to broader anthropological theories regarding both religious practices and the rise of complex societies. This confluence of empirical fact and general theory allows Rakita to explore in detail the complex, reciprocal relationship between ritual practices and developing social complexity at Paquime, one of the best-documented archaeological sites in the region.

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Author information

Gordon F. M. Rakita is associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Florida.

Review quote

Gordon Rakita gives us an important addition to the literature dealing with Chihuahuan prehistory. Starting from a cultural evolutionary position, he uses anthropological theory and specific case studies to examine the role of ritual behavior in the development of the Casas Grandes region, focusing on the site of Paquime and using the eight volumes of the Joint Casas Grandes Expedition as his primary data base. Rakita argues that ceremonialism and ritual behavior are separable strands that contributed both to communal solidarity and to the emergence of the authority and power needed by decision-making structures in aggregated communities. He thus firmly places ritual behavior on a par with economic and other factors in the cauldron of emerging complexity. -- Jane Kelley, University of Calgary The development of social complexity at the site of Paquime, or Casas Grandes, has long intrigued archaeologists working in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico and the American Southwest. Dr. Rakita's analysis of the role of ritual and religious organization in the emergence and sustainability of social inequality at Casas Grandes represents an innovative approach to this topic. Students and scholars alike, interested in the evolution of ritual behavior and its relationship to institutional inequality in aggregating communities, will find this book to be a valuable resource. -- John Ravesloot, William Self Associates, Inc. One of the most important, and interesting, topics in anthropology is how religion and its associated ritual practices facilitate but also constrain emerging social hierarchies and newly empowered leaders. Rakita expertly studies these topics, thereby expanding our understanding of the relationship between religion and social hierarchies in general, while also contributing to our understanding of Southwestern prehistory. -- Christine S. VanPool

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. Emergent Complexity Chapter 3. Ritual and Emergent Complexity Chapter 4. Ritual Practices at Paquime Chapter 5. Interpretations and Conclusions