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Systematic mapping and urbanization studies of Teotihuacan

René Millon's mapping project for Teotihuacan was an ambitious undertaking, and, aside from earlier survey work at Tikal (Carr 1961), upon which Millon modeled his project, was unprecedented in both scale and detail in Mexico (René Millon 1973a:x-xi). From the earliest stages of planning beginning in 1962, the mapping project was intended to complement a larger, regional survey in the Teotihuacan Valley and the adjacent Basin of Mexico coordinated by William Sanders (William et al. Sanders 1979). Most importantly, it was to provide the first complete map of the entire urban area of the city (1973a:ibid). A few earlier, partial surveys of Teotihuacan had been undertaken, with Boturini in 1746, Almaraz in 1865, Charnay 1857-1882, and Marquina and Gamio between 1919 and 1922 producing rudimentary maps, some of which (such as Boturini’s) have been lost. Yet these had covered only a fraction of the city and focused upon the ceremonial precinct or primary urban zone (Rattray 1987). This early attention to the central district was unsurprising as the temple compounds and the landmark couplet of pyramids lie along the Avenida de los Muertos which runs for approximately 3.2 km through this most visibly urbanized portion of the city (Sugiyama 2004:103-4). But Millon's project, in tandem with his earlier survey in 1959 of the north-west outlying areas, was to, first and foremost, cover the entire 20km2 which Millon predicted as comprising the full extent of Teotihuacan's urban area (René Millon 1973a:xi).

The results were finally published in 1973 in a two volume, four part compendium, replete with pockets and pull-out maps, of 147 maps at a scale of 1:2,000 covering individual 0.5km2 units (René Millon, Bruce Drewitt and George Cowgill 1973b). Also included were three larger scale maps, including the most widely used 'Map 1' (Figure 4.3). ‘Map 1’ covers the central, ‘ceremonial’ district at a scale of 1:10,000 with its familiar 0.5km2 grid system oriented along the roughly North-South baseline of 15º25'/30' east of astronomic North - based upon the orientation of the city's buildings and the Avenida de los Muertos (René Millon 1964). After more than a hundred years of investigation, this would finally and definitively identify the boundaries of the city, and, once this precondition was completed, would permit investigation of the ‘urban settlement pattern and population distribution in ancient Teotihuacan’ (ibid:x). What is more, the goal of studying the process of urbanization, formulated by Mexican archaeologists and anthropologists at the time, required a detailed map that could function as a template for future investigations at the site that could then be tied-in to the comprehensive map. This goal was explicitly stated by Millon when he predicted that it would be ”a map that is likely to be the baseline for field work at Teotihuacán for some time to come” (ibid:31). The mapping project would also allow for subsequent comparative utilization in relation to other major pre-Hispanic urban centers (ibid:xi).

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Figure 4.3: The ‘Millon Map’ (from Millon 1973: ‘map 1’)

Indeed, the 'Millon map' has become inextricable from the consideration of Teotihuacan in particular and ancient urbanism more generally. Subsequently, the Millon map has been included in every major publication and website on Teotihuacan (primary e.g. Acosta 1968, Benson 1981, Berlo 1992, Berrin 1993, Coe 1984, Cowgill 1983, García 1993, E. Matos Moctezuma 1990, Pasztory 1997, Townsend 1992). Studies ranging from intra-site spatial analysis and the process of urbanization to ideological and aesthetic interpretation of artwork at the site and more 'holistic' landscape analysis, irrespective of explicit discussion of Millon's map, situate their subject matter by spatial reference to the map. Generally this takes the form of presenting the map at the outset or introductory portion of the texts (as I have done here) with the effect of providing a spatial context for the interpretations of the specific works. As a ‘type map’, the Millon map provides a frame of orientation, and operates commensurately with the perfunctory geographical or environmental background prior to more focused consideration of varied topics of research. With publications internalizing this referent, the reader of the particular works is enabled to 'flip-back-and-forth' in order to place himself or herself within the material context of the interpreter. The process of moving between map and text reinforces the interpretations of the author(s) by linking it with a more universal or objective source of empirical observation – a would-be transparent two-dimensional window to the materiality of the site. This may or may not also include a range of spatial contextualizations, progressing from the scale of Mesoamerica, to the region, to the site (Teotihuacan), to finally a more detailed intra-site map or sketch. Nevertheless, Millon's map will appear as the authoritative frame of reference for Teotihuacan. More widely, referenced by introductory archaeological texts as illustrative of the development of social complexity, the Millon map has become the ‘archaeological type’ map for pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican urbanism (e.g. Black 1997, Price 1993, Renfrew 1996, Willey 1993).

The goal for the map to serve as the ‘media architecture’ for all subsequent research at Teotihuacan was immediately initiated during the Teotihuacan Mapping Project (TMP) itself. From the outset of planning, Millon coordinated with the efforts of William Sanders to map the surrounding Teotihuacan Valley and study large scale, settlement patterns (William Sanders 1965). In looking at settlement patterns and land use over time for the Teotihuacan Valley and the Basin of Mexico (William et al. Sanders 1979), Sander’s study contributed both to the chronology of Teotihuacan and to an understanding of the urbanization process at the site by noting the importance of irrigation systems and documenting the decisive moment in this process: the relocation (hypothesized as an apparent ‘forced migration’ by the political elite of Teotihuacan) of the majority of the Basin’s residents to the new city at the beginning of the Tzacualli phase (1 BCE-150 CE, see Table 4.1).

Additionally, the extensive excavations of the ‘Proyecto Teotihuacan’ (Bernal 1965), being undertaken by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) and coterminous with Millon’s project, were to be tied to the map. “The project to map all of Teotihaucán was designed to complement these large-scale excavations and to include their results on the map” (Millon 1973:x). This INAH project was, in large part, directed to restoration and consolidation of some of the monumental features of the archaeological zone. Between 1962 and 1964 the project excavated and restored the major temple-residence complexes along the Avenue of the Dead (avendia) as well as the Moon Pyramid (Bernal 1965, Millon 1993:352, Sugiyama 2005:5). These efforts, in conjunction with other major projects discussed later, were responsible for clearing much of the accumulated debris over these structures, exposing nearly 2km of the avenida, and gave the site its present appearance. As the structures were cleared, the INAH archaeologists produced detailed, 1:100 scale ‘feature maps’. “These drawings were then reduced to the 1:2000 scale and incorporated in our [Millon’s TMP] map” (Millon 1973:28).

While earlier investigators (esp. Armillas 1950) had argued that Teotihuacan, with its prominent monuments of the central, ‘ceremonial district’ visible and historically noted since early post-Conquest times (accounts recorded by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in his Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España [1547-1577], and see Boone 2000), constituted a fully fledged metropolis, the TMP unequivocally established the site’s status as an archaeological urban center of unprecedented size and scale for prehispanic Mesoamerica (Millon 1981, 1993:340). First, determining the sheer size of the city through identifying the boundaries of the site demolished the idea of it solely representing a locale for ceremonial purposes. Second, the surface survey of the TMP, recording over 2,000 apartment compounds and collecting more than a million artifacts provided evidence of an immense population (estimated at over 100,000 during it apogee) which was highly diverse in terms of ethnic, social and occupational status. Third, deliberate planning evinced through the highly systematized arrangement and construction style of architecture along emic north-south (15˚ 25-30’ east of astronomical north) and east-east (16˚ 25-30’ south of astronomical north) axes became immediately apparent once the outlines of the entire site’s prominent structures had been visualized through the lines of the map (see Figure 4.3, Sugiyama’s (2005) ‘master plan’).

The singular impression afforded by viewing Millon’s ‘map 1’, (Figure 4.3) is of widespread architectural complexity. Similar to everyday ‘street maps’ of present day urban centers, the discreet boundaries of structures denoted by the clean lines of the TMP map make visibly apparent the metropolis quality of Teotihuacan. Millon was quite candid in acknowledging the interpolative basis of these lines for the overwhelming majority of structures on the map (1973:26-33). As to be expected after roughly 1,200 years since the site was largely abandoned, most of the features encountered during the survey were mounds consisting of a mixture of soil and the typical teotihuacano building materials of stone with cascajo (crushed volcanic scoria) and tepetate (indurated subsoil). Millon did this by keeping distinct the ‘field data sheets’ from the ‘interpretation overlays’ on the smaller (1:2000) scale maps included in part 2 of the volume (Millon, Drewitt and Cowgill 1973). Moreover, he emphasizes that “the overlay sheets of interpretations on which are presented our hypothetical reconstructions of what the city looked like anciently are based on a very large body of evidence” (Millon 1973:26). Finally, signified by red lines versus black on the full size, fold out version of ‘map 1’ included in the pocket of part 2, Millon drew attention to the minority of structures which had (at the time of the map’s drawing) been actually, partially or fully, excavated. These structures, for which definite boundaries and other architectural details were known, only included those immediately adjacent to the avenida, those in the plaza of the Pyramid of the Moon and Sun, the Pyramid of the Sun itself, the ‘ciudadela’ or ‘citadel’, and a handful of apartment compounds located at a distance from this central district (most notably, Tepantitla, Atetelco, Tlamimilolpa, Tetitla, Zacuala and Yayahuala, ‘map 1’ in Millon, Drewitt and Cowgill 1973). While the small scale maps keep separate the interpretative overlays from the field survey data, the presentation of the large scale ‘map 1’, the type map for Teotihuacan, offers a ‘selective fidelity’ to what was then known of the site.

For the three reasons stated above, the impact of producing the detailed map of the entire city by the TMP on subsequent research cannot be overestimated. The unrivalled comprehensive detail of the ambitious project provided a baseline for, most importantly, later investigations pertaining to chronology and socio-spatial organization of the pre-Hispanic metropolis. At a time when radiocarbon dating was just emerging, the extensive surface collections and strategically located, controlled test excavations greatly aided in establishing a relative chronological sequence for the site (Millon 1964). Armillas (1950:63-70) had already convincingly placed the duration of the city in the early and middle centuries of the first millennium C.E. through cross-dating Teotihuacan ceramics found at the lowland Maya site of Xolalpan with the Maya calendar. Additionally, studies focused upon specific occupational phases at delimited locations around the site had been undertaken by Linné (2003 [1934]) at the Xolalpan and Tlamimilolpa apartment compounds, Armillas (1950) at the Viking Group complex and Millon and Bennyhoff (1961) at Oztoyahualco. Early attempts at combining these earlier studies with new data from the TMP were presented while the TMP was still underway at the first Mesa Redonda dedicated to Teotihuacan (Bernal 1966,1972). But analyzing changes in ceramic styles and compositions from TMP test excavations throughout the site and geographically referenced to the TMP map (esp. Rattray 2001), led to an overall, synthetic chronology with refined divisions of the habitation of the site into archaeological phases (Table 4.1).

Table 4.1: Chronology of Teotihuacan Valley
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In themselves, the establishment of the phases of Teotihuacan’s occupation were important in disentangling the distinctive Teotihuacan culture from the later Mesoamerican cultures, particularly that of the Toltec and Aztecs, which it had been previously associated with (e.g. Gamio 1922:lx). Abreast with the dating of other Mesoamerican sites, the chronology for Teotihuacan gave rise to the comparative study of Teotihuacan’s influence on, and involvement with, Mesoamerican civilization. This has been especially important with studies of Cholula (Marquina 1972, McCafferty 2000), Tlaxcala (Snow 1972), the Gulf Coast region (Daneels 2002), the Zapotecs of Monte Albán (Winter 2003), and the Maya of Tikal and Copán (Braswell 2003, Fash 2000, Schele 1990). These discussions, documenting Teotihuacan symbolism, materials and artistic and architectural styles at these sites and regions, complement discussions of Teotihuacan’s internal, multiethnic composition (Gómez Chávez 2002, René Millon 1973a, Rattray 1993).

But it is with the TMP map that the diachronic study of demography and socio-political and economic complexity is given its greatest ballast. These analyses, given the sheer size of Teotihuacan, establish one of the most important research trends focused upon the site and position Teotihuacan studies as a significant contributor to wider Mesoamerican, New World and even global studies of prehistoric civilization: the process of pre-industrial urbanization. With the exception of the earliest phases of the city (Patlachique and Tzacualli), the TMP survey covered almost the entirety of the most densely populated areas of the city during its occupation. The resultant information and interpretations are presented collectively on the TMP maps (Figure 4.3). In designing a grid system to overlay the site, Millon’s (1973:7-8) admirable goal was to create a map which could expand both inwardly, in terms of subdivision of particular blocks for the addition of micro-detail, and outwardly, by adjoining additional blocks to include future discoveries outside of the 1962 boundary. Complimenting this ‘spatial dexterity’ is the richness of the temporal dimension included on the map. It should be remembered, then, that while the analog nature of the map and the design decisions behind its presentation (a function of the technological and publishing possibilities of the time) renders a static, a-temporal impression, the TMP map is a cumulative, multi-temporal visualization. This compression of data in the architectural delineations of the map, combined with the accompanying chronological interpretations of the surface material and the accumulating stratigraphic information, allow for the visual narrative of the urbanization at Teotihuacan. Studies of the urbanization of the site through time effectively ‘peel back’ or consider those areas of the map which were occupied during specific time periods. In conjunction with demographic estimates, based either upon the dimensions of apartment compounds as marked on the TMP map (René Millon 1970:1079-80), or upon extrapolating TMP ceramic counts to estimated per capita pot sherd production (Cowgill 1974:370-74), this spatial and temporal change can be, if abstractly and anonymously, linked to population trends.

The environs of the archaeological site of Teotihuacan have been occupied fairly continuously for more than two millennia, and, indeed, continues to be the center of large contemporary growth (chapter 7). The urbanization of the prehispanic city, though, took place during the Terminal Preclassic and Classic periods (roughly 150 BCE to 600 CE) of the standard chronology for Mesoamerica (Blanton 1993, Coe 1984). During the Cuanalan Phase (500-150 BCE), the Valley of Teotihuacan was sparsely populated. This population was concentrated in a few villages located in the southwestern periphery of the site’s boundary on the TMP map (clustered near the TMP block 88) near several springs (Millon 1973:49-50, Sanders 1965:92-4). While these were ostensibly located to take advantage of the agricultural potential offered by the springs, the population was only around 1,000 individuals and the valley was relatively unimportant as compared to the much larger concentration of villages to the south in the valley and in the adjacent Basin of Mexico (such as the Preclassic center of Cuicuilco).

With the succeeding Patlachique phase (beginning at around 150 BCE), major transformations in demography set the stage for Teotihuacan’s urbanization process (Millon Millon 1990:351). While very few architectural features dating to this phase were found by the TMP and inscribed on the map, surface ceramics indicate that the population had burgeoned to upwards of 20,000 individuals (Cowgill 1974:381-2, René Millon 1981:220). This population had largely relocated from the southwest to the northwest and central ceremonial area of the mapped city (covering, respectively, the TMP blocks 23-25, 37-40, 52-3, 70 and 4, 9, 18, 30-1, 45). Though there is little conclusive evidence, the first large scale buildings were likely constructed, and in total the emergent city covered an estimated eight square kilometers (Cowgill 1974, Millon 1990:351).

Coeval with the depopulation of the Basin of Mexico to the south, most scholars believe that the exponential growth at Teotihuacan was due to mass immigration to the new center (Blanton 1993:122, Sanders 1979:105-7). Speculations as to the impetus for a regional relocation are necessarily bound up with questions concerning what catalyzed Teotihuacan development. Sanders’s (1965) early regional survey of the valley was informed by an explicitly ecological approach. In establishing the importance of irrigation in the Teotihuacan Valley, estimating that the valley could only support a maximum population of about 40,000 people without intensive cultivation and a requisite system of canalization to support such greater agricultural productivity (Sergio y Julie Gazzola Gómez Chávez 2004:24-5), some Teotihuacan scholars have emphasized a environmental explanation, or the so called ‘hydraulic hypothesis’ (William and B. Price Sanders 1968, William Sanders, et al. 1979). That is, increases in population lead encourage centralized, socio-political control and complexity to construct and administer agricultural enhancements within a positive feedback, or looping, system. Others, however, have noted the lack of definite evidence for such an explanation (Nichols 1987). Millon (1973:51-2 and Spence (1984, 1987), noting the proximity of the new city to important obsidian sources (‘Otumba obsidian’ in the east of the valley and ‘Pachuca obsidian’ to the north), the latter type found in widely distributed contexts of Mesoamerica, place more significance on the local and regional demand for obsidian in the growth of Teotihuacan. Another partial explanation for to the emigration from the Basin of Mexico and growth of the new city to the northeast may be the decline of Cuicuilco as a prominent center due to cataclysmic volcanic eruptions (Siebe 2000). Yet overall, as Millon himself noted early on (1973:49), these explanations (still) await more data, and most discussions of Teotihuacan’s growth avoid concern with origins and instead track later processes of the organization of society and legitimization of political control over the city as such a novel phenomenon for the New World.

By the subsequent Tzacualli phase (approximately 1-150 CE), immigration to Teotihuacan continued at even a greater pace, and the population expanded enormously with an estimated population of around 70,000 (Cowgill 1974:386-8, Millon 1973:52, 1981:220-1). The demographic reshuffling of the region is pronounced, with Sanders (1979) concluding that nearly the entirely of the Basin of Mexico to the southwest had been emptied of denizens. Concomitant with the influx of individuals to the city was the spatial movement of the city’s population, still concentrated in the northwest (TMP blocks 1-10, 15-19, 26-31, 41-45) of the central district denoted on the map, towards the southeast (Millon 1973:52). Traced on the TMP map, the population of this period occupied around twenty square kilometers and covered nearly all of the area surveyed by the TMP.

Construction of most of the large monuments, as well the implementation of a urban plan, or the highly regularized orientation of structures along axes aligned to ‘Teotihuacan north’ (approximately 15 degrees, 25 minutes east of astronomical North), appear to have taken place during this period (Cowgill 1997, Millon 1973a:52-4). While more recent investigations at the Pyramid of the Moon identify an extended period of construction, representing an accretion of seven distinct building phases with the earliest dating to the preceding Patlachique phase and the final falling sometime during the early Tlamimilolpa, it appears that the first two major constructions took place during the Tzacualli (Sugiyama 1999, 2007:116-120). Likewise with recent research at the Pyramid of the Sun, construction appears to have extended over most of the duration of the city, but initial construction, oriented in accordance with the distinctive urban plan, began sometime during this phase (Matos Moctezuma 1995a:317, Millon 1973a:53). Twenty other major temple complexes, concentrated in the ceremonial district of the city, were also undertaken during the Tzacualli (Millon 1981). And that this district itself took rudimentary form, with the laying out of the avenida de los muertos (or ‘street of the dead’) and perhaps the East and West Avenues (Millon 1973a:53; see Figure 4.1). Thus, by this time many of the distinguishing features of the TMP map, including the extant of coverage itself, would be recognizable.

The combination of monumental construction, a burgeoning population and the beginning of highly regimented, urban planning indicate that during this period of time important political, social and economic transformations were occurring at Teotihuacan. It also suggests that a distinctive artistic and ideological tradition was developing, one which may have contributed to, rather than being derivative of or secondary to, these larger changes (Berlo 1988, Pasztory 1997). In terms of the city’s rise to an integrating, regional force, religion, as Millon (1993:396) states, was “an essential ingredient in this transformation”.

During the following Miccoatli phase, designating a period from roughly 150 to 200 CE, urbanization trends shifted south and east with an abandonment of the north west portion of the city. After this demographic shift, the dimensions of the city would not appreciably alter for the remainder of the city’s history. This established the central precinct of the city flanking the avenida as the monumental core, with an apparent concerted effort on the part of Teotihuacan urban planners to create a political, geographical and religious center – a cosmopolis – along this north-south axis (Millon 1973a:55, Sugiyama 2005:237-48). Nothing approaching the sheer scale of the constructions, large swaths of rectilinear space so conspicuous on the TMP map, can be found elsewhere in the prehispanic Americas (Millon 1973:55). Additionally, it appears that the population, whose growth may have peaked by the end of this phase at around 125,000 – 150.000 individuals, was likewise concentrated near the avenida (Cowgill 1997).

While aggrandizing construction continued on the two principal pyramids, as well as further consolidation of the structures along the avenida (García 1993), a major, new construction project was undertaken in what has been labeled as the Ciudadela, or citadel. This massive, enclosed compound, nearly half a kilometer on a side, is located along the avenida a kilometer to the south of the Pyramid of the Sun. At around the same time, then, that the larger pyramids and flanking plazas and temple structures to the north were being enlarged, the building of the Ciudadela to the south suggests a modification in the overall urban plan for the city. Some scholars (Cowgill 1983, Millon 1993, Pasztory 1997) favor the idea that the shift south in the urban planning suggests a break, or at least a change in political organization. Others, most notably Sugiyama (2005:47-52) argue that the constructions south conform to the posited Teotihuacan Measuring Unit (TMU) of 83cm, a unit already employed in the constructions to the north, and therefore that the Ciudadela represents a continuation of an already formulated ‘master plan’. Irrespective, the spatial effect of the Ciudadela upon the layout of the city, especially after the construction of the ‘Great Compound’ immediately to its west, was the creation of a quadrant organization of the city emanating from the meeting of a subordinate east-west axis with the north-south axis of the avenida (Millon 1992:395). As Millon (1992:ibid) argues, the Ciudadela represented a ‘crossroads of the cosmos’ and carried political and religious significance for the Teotihuacan population. The dedicatory burials and offerings found within the Ciudadela at the central Temple of the Feathered Serpent by the Proyecto Templo de Quetzalcóatl team offer support to such a conclusion (Cabrera 1991). Additionally, most scholars also agree that the size of the Ciudadela constructions and the number of sacrificial victims involved in the dedications constitute ‘the physical realization of the vision of an extremely powerful ruler” (Cowgill 1983:335) at the head of a highly integrated, state system (Sugiyama 2005). It should be noted, however, that other evidence, in the form of semiotic and formal analyses of Teotihuacan art and architecture, raises the possibility of a de-personalized, more egalitarian society where the possibility of a charismatic and powerful leader seems unlikely (Pasztory 1997).

New chronological data pertaining to the subsequent re-configuration of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, suggesting a political or popular reaction to the ‘excess’ of the previous expenditure of energy and lives for the building efforts, may illumine this controversy. Yet the ‘smoking gun’ of royal type burials at Teotihuacan, while they may have been located under the various pyramidal structures and been subsequently looted (Sugiyama 2005:114-21), are unlikely to be ever found (Sugiyama 2004).

During the Tlamimilolpa phase, covering roughly the years between 200 and 350 CE, this reaction to the previous centuries of monumental building efforts includes the alteration to the highly ornamental façade of the Feathered Serpent Temple, a movement of political administration away from the Ciudadela to the Calle de los Muertos Complex, and the systematic construction of ‘apartment compounds’ throughout the city (García 1993, Manzanilla 1986, Millon 1992). Most mega-construction projects at Teotihuacan were completed by this period, and urbanization processes at the city from around 400 CE through to the decline of the city consisted of consolidating the population in these fairly homogenous and distinctive dwellings – unique to Mesoamerica (Millon 1992:397). These apartment compounds tended to be rectangular in dimension, typically measuring around 60m on a side and oriented to the standardized orientation of the city. The outer walls were generally windowless, with restricted entrances, giving an enclosed, fortress-like appearance from the exterior and directing social interaction inward (Millon 1981, 1992:392). The interior, organized around variously located plazas, smaller, domestic ‘temples’ and individual rooms, would have been quite labyrinthine.

As previously mentioned, more than 2,000 of these standardized dwellings were built. It is thought, based upon dwelling estimates derived from ‘sleeping space’, that these compounds housed between 60 and 100 individuals (Millon 1973a:45), giving a liberal estimate of maximum population at perhaps 200,000. And they were likely comprised of extended kinship groups or ‘corporate groups’ engaged in economic activities (principally ceramic, obsidian and other lapidary production) distinctive to each compound (Manzanilla 1996). Indeed, the evidence suggests that during the Tlamimilolpa phase, these craft production activities, while present during earlier periods, came to play a central role in Teotihuacan’s economy of domestic production, ‘internal’ consumption and trade relations with other parts of Mesoamerica (Millon 1981).

Studies of the socio-economic variability through time of the city also indicate that changes were taking place in the organization of these apartment compounds and the encompassing neighborhoods (Robertson 1999, 2001). Looking at ‘social areas’, or neighborhoods that exhibit similar status levels, there was a relative diversity in the mix of these neighborhoods in any one area. However, over time, especially during the Tlamimilolpa, this diversity became less as the neighborhoods became more homogenous and consolidated, with more definite divisions. Higher income residents tended to reside near the central portion of the city, while poorer residents grouped near the peripheries. Households and neighborhoods of intermediate status seemed to be slightly less affected by these internal changes in social composition, and tended to be spread more diffusely between the core and periphery of the city.

Politically and ideologically, they may also signal a shift from the highly centralized state organization thought to exist during the previous phases of growth and materialization of ideology on a monumental, to a more ‘corporate’ or collective leadership consonant with the downplaying of individual rulers and political activity of the city’s art (Millon 1992:398, Pasztory 1997). While the full implications of, and reasons for, this massive restructuring of residence remain elusive, this novel design strategy contributes to the pivotal interest in Teotihuacan as a locus for understanding urbanization. For this reason, combined with the fact that the central precinct and monuments of the site have been more fully explored and the practical problem of modern urban development on the site’s peripheries, most recent and contemporary excavations concentrate on these residential compounds.

It is the Xololpan phase (350 CE-500) which is best known. While the population levels and spatial extent of the city remained similar to previous phases, influence and materials from Teotihuacan spread across Mesoamerica. This was probably not due to direct political or economic involvement (Cowgill 1997:135). Instead, the influence of Teotihuacan in the Maya Highlands and Lowlands, the Gulf Coast, West Mexico and the Valley of Oaxaca is more likely due to emulation of Teotihuacan symbolism and possession of Teotihuacan goods for purposes of local, political and social legitimation (Braswell 2003, Fash 2000, Gómez Chávez 2002, Schele 1990, Stuart 2000). And at Teotihuacan itself there is the clear establishment of foreign ‘barrios’, or neighborhood enclaves attracting the immigrants from many of these areas emulating Teotihuacan and contributing to an increased multiethnic composition of the population (Millon 1973a, Rattray 1993).

It may in fact have been Teotihuacan’s success and popularity that led to its decline in the Metepec phase (500 CE - 600). The increasing influence abroad and the attendant pressure on supplying and managing these trade relations, coupled with the increased social and economic stratification of the city, have been proposed as contributing factors to the state’s dissolution (Millon 1988). The spectacular ‘end’ of Teotihuacan matches its former and unprecedented prominence. Sometime around 650 CE a conflagration consumed the major civic and ceremonial structures as well as elite residences along the central avenida in the core of the city. Speculation remains as to who, whether internal dissidents or external assailants, committed the fiery destruction. But the result, according to Millon (1988, 1992:350) appears to have been a deliberate effort to expunge the symbolic and political center of the city. Nevertheless, there is little direct data to shed light on the blaze. What is known, is that the destruction was not comprehensive, and though most of the population emigrated from the city afterwards, Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned (Diehl 1989). Indeed, there may have been as many as 30,000 to 50,000 people still living in the city during the Coyotlatelco phase (C.E. 600-800), and has the discussions of Aztec pilgrimages, Spanish travelers and other early, post-Conquest records attest to, Teotihuacan continued be an important place for prehispanic peoples. It continues in the modern era, perhaps more than ever, to be at the center of social, economic, political and symbolic considerations for the contemporary population of Mexico Chapter 7.

We can get a sense of this continuity in the habitation of Teotihuacan by looking to the TMP’s relations with the local populations during survey work for the map. When the TMP surveyed the area between 1963 and 1966, the growing population of the Teotihuacan Valley had already encroached upon what would become the archaeological zone (Millon 1973a:20). In the commendably frank and honest section on the TMP’s methods - ‘Field Procedures’ (1973a:ch.3) - Millon does not directly mention the (then) size of the local populations, we can get an accurate idea from the 1960 Mexican government census (INEGI 2000) and the roughly contemporaneous work of Richard Diehl (1972) on ‘ethnoarchaeology’ in the valley. The ‘middle valley’, encompassing the modern towns which are the focus of this dissertation (Chapter 5-6), had a population of 9,782 in 1960. The greatest majority resided either in San Juan de Teotihuacan (4,537) or in San Martín de las Pirámides (3,996) (Diehl 1972:359). While this is a far cry from either the Tlamimilolpa or Xolalpan period population or the swelling population of these same municipalities today (59,518 cumulative for the same towns, and nearly 80,000 for the valley as a whole according to the 2000 Mexican census), with the commensurately expanded problems between municipal development and management of the archaeological zone, encroachment into the central portion of the zone with private dwellings and agricultural fields was already an impediment to surveying in the 1960’s. Milpa (corn) and alfalfa fields and nopal and maguey (cacti) orchards covered large areas on the peripheries of the central zone . Millon (1973a:figures 55-56b) noted the impossibility of accurately (or at all) surveying these areas and the cognate problems of interpreting the obscured structures. On the 1:2000 scale maps (Millon, Drewitt and Cowgill 1973b), he marks areas not surveyed because of the presence of these modern obstructions, and draws in the dimensions of alfalfa fields and maguey or nopal orchard rows (occasionally even drawing individual cactus). Most of these tracts where modern land rights abutted the goals of the archaeological survey were located on the east and southeast peripheries of the modern archaeological zone, near the densely occupied towns of San Martín and the purificación barrio of San Juan.

Aside from the notations on the small scale maps and the figure captions accompanying photos of the agricultural fields, we have to glean the few remarks given by Millon regarding involvement with the modern populations. Several indicators suggest that there was probably a level of tension between local residents, particularly landowners, and the TMP team which was not divulged. First, Millon also marks on the small scale maps areas which were not surveyed because permission from the landowners had been withheld (Millon, Drewitt and Cowgill 1973b). He summarizes the vagaries of trying to complete the map under “all kinds of pressures over which we had no control. We suddenly would be confronted with the imminent destruction of a site or group of sites, or the sudden concession of permission to work in an area previously denied to us” (Millon 1973a:24). Second, he makes mention of local scholars and administrators who aided the team in gaining access to private land. For instance, in the prefatory remarks he thanks Mexican archaeologist Jorge Acosta who “intervened to help us resolve a conflict with some of the local people, a conflict that threatened the completion of the map” (1973a:xii). This particular problem of access must have involved a critical portion and/or large portion of land, but we are not given the details.

Such problems are (sometimes aggravatingly so) routine in archaeological fieldwork. Similar issues continue today, though it is the archaeologists and administrators of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia who grant permissions to landowners – to build within the protected ‘perimeter C’. But it was not Millon’s goal to involve local inhabitants. His interaction during the TMP with the local residents appears to be limited to ‘damage control’, or the minimization of interference with the goal of completely surveying the entirety of the ancient metropolis. Millon states how earlier projects had combined archaeological, historical and ethnographic research (1973a:i). And indeed, prior to this project, Millon had already undertaken ethnographic work in the valley (and region) in an effort to understand the complicated history and politics of the modern irrigation system (Millon 1957, 1962). Clearly, if he had wanted to incorporate more extensive involvement in the project with the local populations, he already had established contacts and a rapport with individuals in the valley, and had training in both archaeological and ethnographic methods.

Nevertheless, the creation of this map was a watershed event for any consideration of Teotihuacan, whether these involve the archaeological associations of prehispanic urbanization detailed above or the contemporary associations of the wider public with the heritage site as examined in the subsequent chapters. It set in motion both trajectories for how archaeology would be conducted at the site, what would be deemed estimable goals for archaeological research, and for how heritage management of the site would affect the local populations.


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