Professor David Carballo awarded the Junior Fellowship from the Center for Humanites

Congratulations to Professor Carballo!

Center for Humanities Junior Fellowship awarded to Professor David Carballo for academic year 2013/14 to do his research.

Religion and Urbanization in Ancient Central Mexico.

Five centuries ago Hernán Cortes and the conquistadors encountered teeming Aztec cities that served as the centers of ritual spectacles for a religious system that to Spanish eyes was simultaneously baffling, terrifying, and remarkable. Yet it was over a millennium before the Aztecs that central Mexico became one of the most urbanized places in the world, as it continues to be today.  While the relationship between religion and urbanism during the Aztec period has been studied at length, this initial phase of urbanization and the crystallization of religious traditions of the later Formative period (ca. 600 BCE – 100 CE) remains poorly understood.  The aim of my project is to elucidate the intersection of religion and urbanization in early central Mexico by combining elements of my own archaeological investigations at urban and rural sites of the period with a synthetic overview of the increased settlement nucleation and religious formalization that culminated in Classic period (ca. 100 – 600 CE) cities such as Teotihuacan, the largest city in the Americas in its day, and continued through the Spanish conquest.

Archaeological investigations of ancient urbanism strive to balance consideration of variables such as environment, population, politics, and architectural grammar in developing empirical urban theory for prehistoric contexts.  In the absence of texts, however, many studies of prehistoric periods tend to undervalue the generative role of religion in shaping the world’s first cities, both in terms of their built environments and the social accommodations necessary for increasingly urbanized landscapes.  By moving judiciously between sixteenth century textual sources and the prehistoric archaeological record I hope to provide a more comprehensive perspective on urbanization and religious formalization in central Mexico from the vantage point of early urban or proto-urban centers as well as more peripheral and rural areas.

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