September 20, 2008 Jeffrey Blomster,   "Oaxacan  Perspectives on Olmec Interaction in the Early Formative"

The nature of Olmec socio-political complexity and their influence on other societies in Mesoamerica has been the subject of a long and contested debate in Mesoamerican archaeology. The Olmec of San Lorenzo, Veracruz, have been called The First Civilization of America, but for decades, they have been portrayed as one of many chiefdoms that operated in Early Formative Mexico, from 1200 to 800 BCE. In his talk, Dr. Blomster examined the underlying theories and practices that have dominated Olmec archaeology, and then described the different architectural practices, and artistic motifs at various sites in the Olmec and Oaxacan Valley regions.  Recently, robust data were compiled about the production and dissemination of Olmec-style pottery using Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis. This study included analysis of pottery remains from four different sites in this Olmec and Oaxacan Valley area. From the results of his study, Dr. Blomster and his associates feel that the Olmec site of San Lorenzo was most likely the source of traded pottery within the four areas studied. This study adds crucial information which will fuel the continuing discussion about the Olmec and their relationship to contemporaneous societies.
            Dr. Jeffrey Blomster is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in social complexity, interregional interaction and approaches to style, ritual and ideology. His regional and spatial research interests lie primarily in Mesoamerica, where he has focused on Mixtec, Zapotec and Olmec cultures. In addition to Mexico, he has also performed fieldwork throughout the United States, from the Four-Corners region of the Southwest to eastern Pennsylvania. He received undergraduate training in anthropology and political science at Washington and Lee University, and graduate training in anthropology and archaeology at Yale University. For nearly a year, he conducted archaeological fieldwork in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico. This fieldwork, and subsequent laboratory analysis in Oaxaca, examines the emergence of social complexity in the Nochixtlán Valley, and explores the impact of interregional interaction in this area. His academic writings have focused on manipulation and movement of style, looking at both traditional stylistic analyses as well as petrographic approaches. He is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University.

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