As we have seen from the video “The Hearth” the eruption of a volcano has caused the structures at the Ceren site to be almost perfectly preserved due to the layers of ash that have fallen on them. Because of this, archaeologists have been able to closely examine the lifestyles of the people who lived there much more accurately. The people of Ceren lived very simple lives in small villages with simple forms of agriculture. The houses held mostly small families and the tools they used were very basic. But when we examine the houses in the Copan area, we begin to see a change in the lifestyle. The Mayans who lived in the Copan area lived with more extended family in several structures connected by patios. These separate structures served different purposes such as for sleeping, cooking and storing food which is much different than the single household we saw in Ceren. But these people in Copan still used simple tools and a hunting/gathering technique along with agriculture. But, because a larger family group lived in Copan, they were able to support each other in a more self-sufficient manner. But what happens when a village begins to grow into a more urban lifestyle. In Teotihuacan, we begin to see a much larger population into the thousands and we begin to see monuments, many more buildings, religious centers and temples. Now we begin to see a society that cooperates together rather than self-sustaining families in Ceren or Copan. We also now have much larger living structures that can house 30 to 100 people as opposed to the small family houses in Ceren or Copan. After archaeological study, it has been determined that in Teotihuacan, these large structures for living were shared by large male lineages of families that worked together. We also begin to see more organized ceremonial burials and worships along with more standardized occupations such as pottery. As we move to Pompeii, we still see an organized lifestyle with religion, and large living quarters but now we see a closer relationship between occupation and living with the example of the grocer’s shop being connected to his household. But the major difference between Pompeii and the other sites is its separation of wealth. In Pompeii we see extravagant houses decorated beautifully that were occupied by wealthy people. In Pompeii there was much more focus on wealth and extravagance as seen from the large, fancy dinners in the dining rooms as opposed to the simple foods and dinners of the people of Ceren or Copan.
Evidence of these differences are seen in the excavations of the sites. In Ceren, we see very simple tools and small living spaces that corresponds to small families living together. In Copan, we begin to see larger living communities with several structures connected by patios indicative of extended families working together. In Teotihuacan, the larger living structures that were excavated along with skeletal evidence point to the conclusion that male lineages lived together in these large structures. In Pompeii we begin to see much more emphasis on wealth through the sophisticated paintings and large, decorated dining rooms.
But the most important evidence found from these studies is the size of the living quarters. The sizes of the households at each of these sites is indicative of the relative size of the community and the current place in development that the culture was at.
Other kinds of analysis that would be important in doing would be isotopic analysis using oxygen 18 and oxygen 16 levels because this would give us much better dating for the features and artifacts found which would then allow us to better understand how developed each culture was at each point in time.