The Role of Road Networks in Social Definition and Integration: Angamuco, Michoacan (250-1530 CE)

Solinis Casparius, Rodrigo. The Role of Road Networks in Social Definition and Integration: Angamuco, Michoacan (250-1530 CE). Diss. U of Washington. 2019.

Abstract: Road networks can be defined as the movement infrastructure of a city. They are both the resource that guides inhabitants within a settlement, and that defines different levels of social interaction and social organization. This dissertation research explores the development of the urban layout by studying the composition and configuration of the road network of the ancient city of Angamuco (250-1530 CE), located in the core-area of the Purépecha Empire (Lake Pátzcuaro Basin), in Michoacán. I used a combination of traditional archaeological investigation methods, such as survey and excavation, as well as remote sensing, GIS, and spatial analysis to investigate how pedestrian roads were created, maintained, modified, and used in this site. This research is divided in three main sections: 1) The use of lidar and image analyses to identify over 6000 road segments, pathways, and intersections within this +6 km² urban center; 2) Excavation of a sample of roads, and ceramic analysis for determining the relative temporal sequencing and configuration of roads; and 3) A classification of roads according to their morphology, construction, configuration, experiential properties, and centrality (network analysis) indices. The results of this research indicate that inhabitants of Angamuco were actively engaged in the construction and modification of the intra-site road infrastructure. Particularly, that massive road transformation events occurred around the Middle Postclassic period (1000 CE), right before the emergence of the Purépecha Empire. Changes in the road network also suggest that access to, and configuration of the space responded to socio-spatial settlement and occupation processes. This study provides field and computational techniques to better identify ancient urban roads by their manufacture technology, morphology, connectivity, and accessibility. Further, it provides a detailed typology of Mesoamerican urban roads and a conceptual scope to explore the intra-site mobility, social organization, and the urbanization process of Angamuco within the context and the impact of the Purépecha Empire's influence in the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin area.

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