David M. Carballo

From Observatory

David M. Carballo
Historian. Writer

David M. Carballo is a professor of archaeology, anthropology, and Latin American studies and assistant provost for general education at Boston University.

Latest by this author

David Carballo is a specialist in Mesoamerican archaeology, focusing particularly on the prehispanic civilizations of central Mexico. Currently ongoing projects at the ancient city of Teotihuacan include the Proyecto Arqueológico Tlajinga, Teotihuacan (PATT), and the Proyecto Plaza de las Columnas. The first seeks to understand urbanization, neighborhood organization, and the daily life of commoners through excavations and geophysical prospection within a southern district of the city. The second is focused on a palace compounds and is aimed at understanding the city’s political economy.

Publications by this author
Oxford University Press | August 2020

Mexico of five centuries ago was witness to one of the most momentous encounters between human societies, when a group of Spaniards led by Hernando Cortés joined forces with tens of thousands of Mesoamerican allies to topple the mighty Aztec Empire. It served as a template for the forging of much of Latin America and began the globalized world we inhabit today.

This violent encounter and the new colonial order it created, a New Spain, was millennia in the making, with independent cultural developments on both sides of the Atlantic and their fateful entanglement during the pivotal Aztec-Spanish war of 1519–1521.

Collision of Worlds examines the deep history of this encounter with an archaeological lens—one that considers depth in the richly layered cultures of Mexico and Spain, like the depths that archaeologists reveal through excavation to chart early layers of human history.

It offers a unique perspective on the encounter through its temporal depth and focus on the physical world of places and things, their similarities and differences in trans-Atlantic perspective, and their interweaving in an encounter characterized by conquest and colonialism, but also active agency and resilience on the part of Native peoples.

Co-author: Barbara Arroyo | Harvard University Press | July 2020

Teotihuacan was a city of major importance in the Americas between 1 and 550 CE. As one of only two cities in the New World with a population over one hundred thousand, it developed a network of influence that stretched across Mesoamerica. The size of its urban core, the scale of its monumental architecture, and its singular apartment compounds made Teotihuacan unique among Mesoamerica’s urban state societies.

Teotihuacan: The World Beyond the City brings together specialists in art and archaeology to develop a synthetic overview of the urban, political, economic, and religious organization of a key power in Classic-period Mesoamerica. The book provides the first comparative discussion of Teotihuacan’s foreign policy with respect to the Central Mexican Highlands, Oaxaca, Veracruz, and the Maya Lowlands and Highlands. Contributors debate whether Teotihuacan’s interactions were hegemonic, diplomatic, stylistic, or a combination of these or other social processes. The authors draw on recent investigations and discoveries to update models of Teotihuacan’s history, in the process covering various questions about the nature of Teotihuacan’s commercial relations, its political structure, its military relationships with outlying areas, the prestige of the city, and the worldview it espoused through both monumental architecture and portable media.

Edited by Kenneth G. Hirth.

University Press of Colorado | September 2014

Departing from the political economy perspective taken by the vast majority of volumes devoted to Mesoamerican obsidian, Obsidian Reflections is an examination of obsidian's sociocultural dimensions—particularly in regard to Mesoamerican world view, religion, and belief systems.

Exploring the materiality of this volcanic glass rather than only its functionality, this book considers the interplay among people, obsidian, and meaning and how these relationships shaped patterns of procurement, exchange, and use. An international group of scholars hailing from Belize, France, Japan, Mexico, and the United States provides a variety of case studies from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras.

The authors draw on archaeological, iconographic, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric data to examine obsidian as a touchstone for cultural meaning, including references to sacrificial precepts, powerful deities, landscape, warfare, social relations, and fertility.

Obsidian Reflections underscores the necessity of understanding obsidian from within its cultural context—the perspective of the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. It will be of great interest to Mesoamericanists as well as students and scholars of lithic studies and material culture.

Contributors: Kazuo Aoyama, Ivonne Athie, Jaime J. Awe, Mónica Blanco García Méndez, David M. Carballo, Véronique Darras, Jesús Carlos Lazcano Arce, Marc N. Levine, John Monaghan, William J. Parry, Alejandro Pastrana, Mari Carmen Serra Puche, W. James Stemp.

Edited by Marc N. Levine and David M. Carballo.

University Press of Colorado | December 2012

Past archaeological literature on cooperation theory has emphasized competition's role in cultural evolution. As a result, bottom-up possibilities for group cooperation have been under theorized in favor of models stressing top-down leadership, while evidence from a range of disciplines has demonstrated humans to effectively sustain cooperative undertakings through a number of social norms and institutions. Cooperation and Collective Action is the first volume to focus on the use of archaeological evidence to understand cooperation and collective action.

Disentangling the motivations and institutions that foster group cooperation among competitive individuals remains one of the few great conundrums within evolutionary theory. The breadth and material focus of archaeology provide a much needed complement to existing research on cooperation and collective action, which thus far has relied largely on game-theoretic modeling, surveys of college students from affluent countries, brief ethnographic experiments, and limited historic cases. In Cooperation and Collective Action, diverse case studies address the evolution of the emergence of norms, institutions, and symbols of complex societies through the last 10,000 years. This book is an important contribution to the literature on cooperation in human societies that will appeal to archaeologists and other scholars interested in cooperation research.

Edited by David M. Carballo.

Masalai Press | December 2011

Archaeological study detailing the excavation and analysis of obsidian workshop deposits located next to the Moon Pyramid at the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico. The manufacturing activities that resulted in these deposits involved the large-scale production of weaponry and martially themed ceremonial items. It is argued that these activities were organized as centralized yet episodic labor tribute and served part of the military and ideological underpinnings on which state political authority rested.

The study suggests that greater insights into past cases of craft production are obtained by coupling technologically informed analyses with detailed consideration of the social, symbolic, and ideational dimensions within which production activities were embedded. Aspects of material culture associated with warfare and ritualized violence appear to have frequently formed part of the strategies of early state governance, serving to publicize political authority in a tangible form. Complete text in English and Spanish.

University of Pittsburgh Memoirs in Latin American Archaeology No. 21. Center for Comparative Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, and Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2011.

Alexander J. Martín (Translator), Rodrigo Néstor Paredes Cetino (Contributor)

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