W4 Reflection Post

The households at the four locations Ceren, Copan, Teotihuacan, and Rome are all in some ways similar, but have very distinct differences. Ceren is a region in El Salvador. Houses in Ceren were all underground and needed to be excavated. From the evidence the archeologists found, it was found that the household members grew their own food and made their own pottery and clothes. They also noticed that the variety of food that was grown was incredibly diverse and large, therefore it must have not been difficult to live there. Past evidence has lead people to assume that subsistence farming was hard, but the evidence that people found at Ceren challenged that assumption. They found a richness of material possessions as well as a large range and amount of food, meaning people were not struggling as much as past archeologists might have thought.

The Copan region of Honduras was very different in terms of what was found. Since these residences were above ground, there had been centuries of erosion. This meant that very few artifacts were intact or in their original location. However, 4,500 structures still remained. Archeologists also found some artifacts. There was a raised platform of stone which was used as a sleeping bench, as well as evidence of a kitchen with broken pottery and knife blades. The way the houses were set up was there were separate buildings for sleeping, cooking and storing food centered around a patio. On the site there were several of these patios located close together. From this evidence and looking at modern day Mayan families, the archeologists hypothesized that there were extended families. These extended families were self-sufficient, shared work tasks and grew their food within a short distance of their home.

These households were different from the households at Teotihuacan. This city was one of the largest in the ancient world and gives evidence as to how the Mayan people adapted from farming life to city life. When the city grew, farming was pushed to the edge of the city, which is where the residences were. The households here were very different in that they were “compounds” with many rooms where 30-100 people could be housed. The people living in these compounds were actually buried under the exact rooms they lived in. This meant that the archeologists could find similarities between the people that lived there. Through looking at the bones, they found that the men living in the compounds were all related, and the women married into this family, forming a lineage. The people living in the compound also had a similar religion and they all produced goods for a common marketplace.

Finally, in Rome households spanned extremely wealthy and poor. Like Ceren, many households in Pomepii did not erode because of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius which encased the city. In the household in the video, a store was connected to the rest of the house. In the kitchen, there was a mural which the archeologist used to hypothesize that the kitchen was central to family life. For the Romans, work and home were tightly linked together, just like in Ceren and Copan.

In terms of the most important kind of evidence for this type of study, I think that looking at the way the houses are set up is significant. In all of these regions, the way the houses were set up, being close to each other or including work, was important in the way people lived and the culture worked. One analysis that I think would be interesting to do at all of the sites would be to look at what might lie below the surface of these households. They have already done this with Teotihuacan, where they found the burials, but I wonder what else is laying beneath the surface of the structures of these households, such as other buried bodies or artifacts.

3 thoughts on “W4 Reflection Post

  1. I too enjoyed the discovery in Ceren that changed the perspective on subsistence farming. Finding a site that well preserved (like they did in Pompeii as well) is such a gift for studying the past. I’m paraphrasing, but I remember one of the archaeologists from the Ceren site said something along the lines of, “the people had no chance to leave/take things and therefore what we are seeing is what the people of that time actually saw.” Nothing beats the real thing when attempting to formulate the past. Wouldn’t it be nice if all sites were as well maintained as this one was?

  2. I agree that the most important evidence is the way that the households were set up. The reason that determines these differences being the different area requiring different means of gathering food. The harder it is to get food might require more people to help farm and gather it. That is also way that enough though Ceren, Copan, and Teotihuacan are fairly close to each other they have very different household structures. The physical structures of the houses also fit the environment conditions of the regions as well as aiding in food production. I think it is very interesting that food has such an important role in the household.

  3. It seems to just keep coming up over and over again how many groups of people in the past had better lives than we usually give them credit for. Even though this is a very old and somewhat primitive group of people we can still learn many things about their lives today. All of the sites in the video were able to give as a better understanding of how these people seems be much more similar to us today than I ever realized. What would the world be like if these civilizations had survived? Would the Americas all be decedent to them and would we be more advanced than we are now?

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