Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2005:
Patricia Plunket and Gabriela Uruñuela

Dating Cholula, México

Concluding Remarks

The dated contexts presented in this short study allow us to make several preliminary observations about the chronology of Cholula. First of all, the Middle Formative occupation along the southern edge of the swamps on the northeastern side of Cholula appears to be much as Mountjoy and Peterson (1973) envisioned, albeit somewhat earlier. The materials they recovered were from within the swamp muck, and probably represent trash thrown into the shallow water. The bell-shaped pits, on the other hand, are features that correspond to Middle Formative houses that have not survived two millennia of agricultural activity on the shallow soils that characterize the southern shore of the swamp. The high tepetate here made it an ideal area for construction since it was elevated enough to avoid flooding during the rainy season. A detailed study of the ceramics from these pits is currently underway.

After establishing a mid-first century date for a major volcanic eruption of Popocatépetl through our work at Tetimpa (Plunket and Uruñuela 2000 and n.d.), we wanted to explore the possibility that monumental architecture at the site developed as an adaptive politico-religious response as people sought to cope with the numerous conflicts that must have emerged in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Although our dates come from fill inside the Great Pyramid, and we are well aware of the problems of using fill for the construction of chronological sequences, we believe that the consistency of the 12 determinations, confirms an early second century A.D. date for the initial building phase of this important structure. Interestingly, this dating is similar to that of the Moon Pyramid at Teotihuacán (Kabata et al. 2001), and perhaps signals related processes at work on both sides of the Sierra Nevada after the great eruption.

Our interpretation of the dates from fill covering the construction set formed by the Sub-I-A/I-A/I-B/I-B1 building sequence suggests that it was covered over with an entirely new conception of the Great Pyramid (Marquina’s Structure II) in the fourth or early fifth century A.D.  However, we will not begin to explore this building until we have a clear understanding of the construction sequence underneath it.

The dates from the Colegio Taylor indicate that the area to the north of the main square in San Pedro Cholula was devoid of Classic period construction, and also that the second major eruption visible in the stratigraphy at Tetimpa occurs as a marked strata in Cholula that separates the Classic from the Postclassic.

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