Ancestors and Elites

Emergent Complexity and Ritual Practices in the Casas Grandes Polity

By (author) Gordon F. M. Rakita

Hardback - £62.00

Publication date:

16 April 2009

Length of book:

220 pages


AltaMira Press

ISBN-13: 9780759111288

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 Paquimé, one of the best-documented archaeological sites in the region.
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 Paquimé 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.