A new book titled “Ancient West Mexico in the Mesoamerican Ecumene” – written in excellent English – presents the first study of the archaeology of the whole of West Mexico, from the earliest to the latest cultural periods, by a single author. It is also unique in that it is far more than a simple compendium of excavations and artifacts.
The author, Guadalajara-born archaeologist Dr. Eduardo Williams, who is now a professor at the Colegio de Michoacán, tells us this up front in the book’s title. His choice of the word ecumene (pronounced ee-CUE-me-nee) is significant. This expression, which to the Greeks meant the known, inhabited world, here refers to the community or civilization of Mesoamerica in a holistic sense – including its social, cultural and economic aspects.
Williams told me he decided to use this word in honor of his colleague, archaeologist Phil Weigand (1937-2011), who worked tirelessly to promote the idea that archaeology must be dedicated to more than cataloguing potsherds and figurines.
The book, published by Archaeopress Publishing Ltd of Oxford in 2020, is 441 pages long and has over 320 illustrations. It first presents a history of the archaeological research carried out in Western Mexico between 1880 and 1990, with special emphasis on Michoacán, Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Sinaloa. In these pages, Williams presents the work carried out by dozens of researchers in a huge number of papers, wherever necessary updating the information.
This means that anyone interested in the archaeology of West Mexico will find everything they need at their fingertips, in one volume. For this alone, Williams deserves a great round of applause!