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Julia Pérez Pérez

Terrace Agriculture in Cerro San Lucas, Teotihuacan Valley
Translation of the Spanish by Eduardo Williams
Ver este informe en Español.

Photo 22. Aerial view of the excavation.

Research Year:  2005
Culture:  Aztec
Chronology:  Postclassic
Location:  Teotihuacan Valley
Site:  Cerro San Lucas

Table of Contents

2005 Season
First Stage
Topographic Survey
Surface Material Collecting
Aerial Photography
Second Season
Archaeological Survey
Consolidation and Closing of Excavation
Proposals for the Project’s Second Excavation Season
List of Figures, Photos, Graphs and Tables
Sources Cited


This report deals with the activities conducted during the first and second seasons of the research project Agricultura en terrazas en el cerro San Lucas, Valle de Teotihuacán, (Terrace agriculture in Cerro San Lucas, Teotihuacan Valley), between December 2004 and January 2005, and from March 2nd to May 15th, 2005.

According to the work plan established in the project’s proposal, during the first stage of fieldwork the surface survey was undertaken, and in the second stage the excavation of the chosen area.

In the first season we checked in the field the features observed through photo interpretation, we conducted the collection of material, the analysis of archaeological material on the surface, and did an airplane flyover to take aerial photos of Cerro San Lucas (Figure 1).

Fieldwork conducted during this field season involved the survey of several fields showing archaeological materials and level changes on the surface. Once we knew the condition of the terraces showing the mentioned features, we chose a portion of a terrace for topographic survey and surface material collection. The chosen terrace belongs to Mr. Miguel Ortega Zúñig (Photo 1), who lives in the town of San Marcos, municipality of Otumba. According to Mr. Ortega, the terrace dimensions we see today in the hill reflect the leveling carried out with excavating machines on the hill slopes during the presidency of José López Portillo. During this period the ejido (communal property) lands in the region were distributed, so as to give the local peasants enough land for agriculture. In spite of the destruction caused by the heavy machinery within the ancient terraces (tecorrales), and on the possible walls of Prehispanic buildings, we were able to see slight level changes on the ground surface in some portions of the terrace which in some cases coincide with dark stains seen in the aerial photo, and in other cases with a differential growth of vegetation. In both cases the features are related with the existence of Prehispanic construction. In those areas where we see this micro topography there is a great amount of small stones, potsherds, and obsidian (boulders and flakes).

Starting at the 2,500 m (above sea level) contour line toward the alluvial plain, the fields are cultivated mostly with barley, beans, and nopal cactus, while magueys, pirul trees and some nopales are used as boundary markers between terraces and fields. Above 2,500 m vegetation is mostly thorny and thornless underbrush (Photo 2).

During the second season we completed the topographic survey of the terrace, conducted the survey of our area of interest through three techniques, excavated the surveyed area, and took samples for chemical analysis, as well as pedological studies and soil micro morphology of the ground surface (thin sections), and for paleobotanical analysis (macro and micro remains). We established four level markers using a Global GPS, made a flyover with an aerostatic balloon to an approximate height of 100 m to obtain images of the excavated area, and finally the structure was consolidated and covered after the end of the field season.

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Submitted 02/16/2006 by:
Julia Pérez Pérez
Anthroplogy Postgraduate Program
Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UNAM

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