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Smith recorded several hours of fieldwork using a digital video camera. Laboratory Procedures The project’s principal innovations had to do with data organization. Each of the big Oaxaca survey projects paid more attention to formal data procedures than its predecessor but the Central Mixteca Alta efforts were a giant step forward. John Chamblee built a relational database and geographic information system and everyone kept up with computer work and paperwork daily so there was little backlog. The original database used the field-numbered site as the object to which all attributes were linked, including artifacts, architecture, photographs, and collections.
The second major change began around 300 BC and after several centuries saw the birth of urbanism and the state. Like other urban systems, those in the Mixteca Alta also underwent dramatic collapse, which happened here at the end of the Classic period. But after AD 1200 the region experienced its greatest population growth and prosperity. A few decades before the Spanish invasion the area had become tributary provinces of the expanding Aztec empire (the Aztec presence left only the slightest archaeological imprint).
In most places there are specific similarities in the pattern of settlement between the Postclassic and the present day, although as we shall see, prehispanic populations were often larger than today’s. European plants, animals, and diseases, the sixteenth-century demographic and economic collapse, and the incorporation of the Mixteca Alta into the modern world system wrought enormous change. Indigenous self-rule has been gone for 500 years. Exploitation has drained off wealth and created poverty.