Vernacular Architecture in the Pre-Columbian Americas: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Vernacular Architecture in the Pre-Columbian Americas

1st Edition

Edited by Christina Halperin, Lauren Schwartz


228 pages

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pub: 2016-09-12
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Vernacular Architecture in the Pre-Columbian Americas reveals the dynamism of the ancient past, where social relations and long-term history were created posthole by posthole, brick by brick. This collection shifts attention away from the elite and monumental architectural traditions of the region to instead investigate the creativity, subtlety and variability of common architecture and the people who built and dwelled in them. At the heart of this study of vernacular architecture is an emphasis on ordinary people and their built environments, and how these everyday spaces were pivotal in the making and meaning of social and cultural dynamics.

Providing a deeper and more nuanced temporal perspective of common buildings in the Americas, the editors have deftly framed a study that highlights sociocultural diversity while at the same time facilitating broader comparative conversations around the theme of vernacular architecture. With diverse case studies covering a broad range of periods and regions, Vernacular Architecture in the Pre-Columbian Americas is an important addition to the growing body of scholarship on the indigenous architecture of the Americas and is a key contribution to our archaeological understandings of past built environments.


"The book is an excellent resource for archaeologists interested in the study of prehistoric vernacular architecture in North and South America. It offers an assessment of prehistoric construction techniques and the meaning of architectural forms before cultures were disrupted by European dominance." - Cameron H. Lacquement, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama.

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction

1. The Archaeology of Vernacular Architecture in the Pre-Columbian Americas

Christina T. Halperin & Lauren E. Schwartz

Part II. Building Buildings

2. Ethnoarchaeology and Archaeology of Vernacular Architecture in the Department of Tumbes, Peru

Jerry D. Moore

3. Traditional Architecture as Peopled Practice at Monte Viudo, Chachapoyas, Peru

Anna Guengerich

4. Vernacular Architecture of Southeast Mesoamerica: An Evaluation of Design Variations and Identity Expression from the Late and Terminal Classic Middle Chamelecón-Cacaulapa, Northwest Honduras

Lauren E. Schwartz

Part III. Structuring Structures

5. Vernacular vs. State Housing in the Wari Empire: Cosmological Clashes and Compromises

Donna Nash

6. Vernacular and Monumental Maya Architecture: Translations and Lost in Translation During the Terminal Classic period (ca. 800-950 CE)

Christina T. Halperin

Part IV. The Temporality of Vernacular Architecture

7. Building Cahokia: Transformation through Tradition

Susan M. Alt

8. The Living House: The Vernacular Architecture of Early Postclassic Xaltocan, Mexico

Kristin De Lucia

9. Vernacular Architecture in the Chacoan World

Kellam Throgmorton

Part V. Conclusion

10. Vernacular Architecture: Insights into Practice, Identity, and Relationships in Pre-Columbian Societies in the Americas

Julia A. Hendon

About the Editors

Christina T. Halperin is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Université de Montréal, Canada. She is a specialist in Maya archaeology and has published a number of papers and books, with her research focusing on the household, political economy, gender, materiality and daily life.

Lauren E. Schwartz is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Kenyon College, USA. Her research focuses on how the study of households, architecture and the built environment can inform our understanding of ancient social identity.

About the Series

Routledge Archaeology of the Ancient Americas

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology