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Thomas H. Charlton

Urban Influences at Rural Sites: Teotihuacán and its near Hinterlands
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Plate 1. TC-83. Chapel on Mound with Precinct Area in foreground

Research Year:  1998
Culture:  Teotihuacán and Aztec
Chronology:  Early Pre-Classic
Location:  Teotihuacán, Central México
Sites:  Various

Table of Contents

Introduction and Background
Proposed Research and Modifications
Project Results
North Slopes of Cerro Gordo
TC-46 [22.5 ha.]
TC-57 [8.2 ha.]
TC-73 [21 ha.]
Eastern Teotihuacán Valley
TC-83 [26 ha.]
San Marcos [12 ha. Teotihuacán Component]
TC-87-89 [15 ha.]
Initial Conclusions
Future Plans
List of Figures and Plates
Sources Cited

Introduction and Background

The organization, structure, and integration of early states continue to be of interest to scholars of many disciplines, including those of history, political science, economics, anthropology, and archaeology. In the current study we proposed an examination of the extent and nature of the impact of Teotihuacán, the earliest urban center in the Basin of México, on several nearby rural sites in the Teotihuacán Valley east and north of the city (Figure 1). Of particular relevance to the proposed study were (1) the dominant presence in the urban setting of large and varied multi-family households in architectural units called "apartment compounds" by René Millon (1981), and (2) the comprehensiveness of urban planning within the city (Millon, 1973; Millon et al., 1973).

Both "apartment compounds" and urban planning, clearly documented for the urban center, have been unequivocally documented only for "rural" sites (e.g. TC-8) (Figure 1) so close to the city that they might best be called "suburbs" (Charlton, 1987; 1991; Kolb and Sanders, 1996; Sanders and Kolb, 1996). Although there have been and continue to be intensive archaeological investigations within the urban center of Teotihuacán producing a good but incomplete grasp of Teotihuacán’s urban, social, political, and ideological structure, along with information on residences and city-planning (e.g. Cabrera et al., 1982a; 1982b; 1991; Millon, 1992), investigations of a similar intensity have been lacking for rural occupations (cf. Sanders et al., 1979).

Prior to the current research there were, to the best of our knowledge, only two partial excavations of rural Teotihuacán households (TC-46) (Figure 1 and Figure 2) and several minor test pit excavations at two other rural sites within Teotihuacán’s near hinterland (TC-302, TC-87-89) (Charlton, 1973; 1987; 1994).

In addition there were site reconstructions (TC-40, TC-42, TC-73, TC-83) (Figure 1) based on survey and surface collection data (Sanders, 1994-96).

As a result our knowledge of such sites was inadequate to evaluate hypotheses concerning the degree of urban influence on rural sites in terms of residential unit composition and activities, the extent of the presence of urban town plans in rural contexts, and the degree of ideological similarity to Teotihuacán as seen through public buildings, their alignments, and figurine, ceramic, and mural painting iconography. These gaps in our knowledge of rural Teotihuacán period sites have been noted previously (Charlton, 1987; 1991; Sanders, 1994-96; 1997).

Although during the 30 years following the end of Sanders’ Teotihuacán Valley Project there have been substantial changes to and at times destruction of archaeological sites in the Basin of México (e.g. Parsons, 1989), after a re-examination of rural Teotihuacán sites near the ancient city in 1995 Sanders proposed that some still retained enough archaeological integrity to yield data addressing questions about the influence of Teotihuacán on nearby rural sites.

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Submitted 10/01/1999 by:
Thomas H. Charlton
Department of Anthropology
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242-1322

Cynthia L. Otis Charlton
Independent Investigator
Wellman, IA 52356

William T. Sanders
Department of Anthropology
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

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