Home Region:  Mexico (North America)

Classic Basin of Mexico

EQ 2020  mx_basin_of_mexico_7 / MxClass

The Basin or Valley of Mexico is a highlands plateau in central Mexico roughly corresponding to modern-day Mexico City. Here, we are interested in the phase of its prehistory known as the Classic or Early Classic period (c. 100-649 CE). This period was characterised by sophisticated forms of artistic expression and high levels of craft specialisation, pronounced differences between the material culture of the wealthier classes and that of the poorer ones, and trade networks extending farther and farther across the wider region. In the Basin of Mexico, Teotihuacan was the dominant centre, and the presence of Teotihuacano artefacts outside of the Basin testifies to its far-ranging influence. [1] Indeed, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the world, with a population of about 100,000 [2] or 125,000. [3]
Relatively little is known regarding Teotihuacan’s political organisation. There is no consensus on the existence of a ruler’s palace at the site, nor have royal burials or depictions of individual rulers been found. The site has yielded representations of elite personages, but they are usually shown in groups, partaking in processions, and wearing masks, suggesting that power was shared or distributed: perhaps, the city was governed by a committee of representatives from different interest groups, and/or spokespeople for some or each of the city’s thousands of apartment compounds. [4]

[1]: (Evans 2012: 122-123) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/AN5IUQ7X.

[2]: (Carballo 2019: pers. comm. to E. Cioni and G. Nazzaro)

[3]: (Sugiyama 2005: 2) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/P56I2R2H.

[4]: (Feinman 2012: 230-231) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/M7SIWVJQ.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[100 CE ➜ 649 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Succeeding Entity:
MxEpicl  
Preceding Entity:
MxCuicu  
Language
Language Genus:
NO_VALUE_ON_WIKI  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[100,000 to 125,000] people  
Polity Population:
-  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
3  
Professions
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown  
Law
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present  
Irrigation System:
unknown  
Food Storage Site:
unknown  
Drinking Water Supply System:
unknown  
Transport Infrastructure
Special-purpose Sites
Information / Writing System
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Information / Money
Information / Postal System
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
inferred absent  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
inferred absent  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
inferred absent  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
inferred absent  
  Fortified Camp:
inferred absent  
  Earth Rampart:
inferred absent  
  Ditch:
inferred absent  
  Complex Fortification:
inferred absent  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
absent  
  Iron:
absent  
  Copper:
absent  
  Bronze:
absent  
Projectiles
  Sling:
present  
  Self Bow:
absent  
  Javelin:
inferred absent  
  Composite Bow:
absent  
  Atlatl:
present  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
inferred absent  
  Sword:
inferred absent  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
inferred absent  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
absent  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
absent  
  Dog:
absent  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
absent  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
absent  
  Breastplate:
absent  
Naval technology
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Classic Basin of Mexico (mx_basin_of_mexico_7) was in:
 (100 CE 649 CE)   Basin of Mexico
Home NGA: Basin of Mexico

General Variables
Identity and Location
Temporal Bounds

Political and Cultural Relations


Language

Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[100,000 to 125,000] people

"During its prosperous period (Xolalpan and Metepec phases: CE 400-650), Teotihuacan was the sixth largest city in the world, with an estimated population of 125,000". [1] David Carballo suggests about "100k" as a figure for Teotihuacan’s population at this time. [2]

[1]: (Sugiyama 2005: 2) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/P56I2R2H.

[2]: (Carballo 2019: pers. comm. to E. Cioni and G. Nazzaro)


Polity Population:
-

No information found in relevant literature.


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
3

levels. Information retrieved from Fig 3.3 of Carballo 2016 [1] which indicates the presence of City/Supra-regional centre; town /provincial centres; and Village/hamlet in the Classic period settlement.

[1]: (Carballo 2016: 67) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/7B7A8KA6.


Professions
Bureaucracy Characteristics

Law
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present

"Marketplace institutions also would have existed at Teotihuacan, beginning at least in the second century AD". [1]

[1]: (Sugiyama 2005: 4) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/P56I2R2H.





Transport Infrastructure
Special-purpose Sites
Information / Writing System
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Information / Money
Information / Postal System
Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
absent

"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.


Stone Walls Non Mortared:
absent

"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.


Stone Walls Mortared:
absent

"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.



"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.


Fortified Camp:
absent

"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.


Earth Rampart:
absent

"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.


"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.


Complex Fortification:
absent

"Whereas no sites are documented as fortified or military observatories during the Formative and Classic periods, approximately one quarter of sites are during the Epiclassic and one-third of sites are during the Postclassic." [1]

[1]: (Carballo and Pluckhahn 2007: 615) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/MUW5MHB7.



Military use of Metals

"Metals were another story. Throughout all these times [before 500 BCE], and even much later, they were essentially unused in Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan’s predecessors [...] and Teotihuacan itself used only stone tools". [1]

[1]: (Cowgill 2015: 40) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/JRFZPUXU.


"Metals were another story. Throughout all these times [before 500 BCE], and even much later, they were essentially unused in Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan’s predecessors [...] and Teotihuacan itself used only stone tools". [1]

[1]: (Cowgill 2015: 40) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/JRFZPUXU.


"Metals were another story. Throughout all these times [before 500 BCE], and even much later, they were essentially unused in Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan’s predecessors [...] and Teotihuacan itself used only stone tools". [1]

[1]: (Cowgill 2015: 40) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/JRFZPUXU.


"Metals were another story. Throughout all these times [before 500 BCE], and even much later, they were essentially unused in Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan’s predecessors [...] and Teotihuacan itself used only stone tools". [1]

[1]: (Cowgill 2015: 40) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/JRFZPUXU.


Projectiles

"Slings continued to be used but, as commoner weapons, they were not depicted in Teotihuacan art." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Self Bow:
absent

"Bows and arrows were still unknown." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Javelin:
absent

Inferred from the fact that sources such as Hassig do not mention this weapon in lists and descriptions of weapons known to have been used in Teotihuacan. [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47-48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Composite Bow:
absent

"Bows and arrows were still unknown." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Atlatl:
present

"Part of Teotihuacan’s weaponry was inherited from earlier times, especially the thrusting spear. Spears remained dominant on the battlefield but were augmented by atlatls and darts, which became major weapons in the Early and Middle Classic." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Handheld weapons
War Club:
absent

Inferred from the fact that sources such as Hassig do not mention this weapon in lists and descriptions of weapons known to have been used in Teotihuacan. [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47-48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Inferred from the fact that sources such as Hassig do not mention this weapon in lists and descriptions of weapons known to have been used in Teotihuacan. [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47-48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


"Part of Teotihuacan’s weaponry was inherited from earlier times, especially the thrusting spear. Spears remained dominant on the battlefield but were augmented by atlatls and darts, which became major weapons in the Early and Middle Classic." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Polearm:
absent

Inferred from the fact that sources such as Hassig do not mention this weapon in lists and descriptions of weapons known to have been used in Teotihuacan. [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47-48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Dagger:
present

"Knives are primarily depicted in mural scenes with impaled hearts, suggesting a ritual use, but they were doubtless used in combat as auxiliary weapons, as was the case with subsequent Mesoamerican groups." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Battle Axe:
present

"Axes were present, but if used, they must have been of secondary importance in that they did not compare well with other weapons." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Animals used in warfare

Not native to region.


Elephant:
absent

Not native to region.


Not native to region.


Although domesticated dogs were present during this period, [1] [2] their function is unclear (food and/or hunting), [3] [4] and war dogs were unknown in Mesoamerica at the time of the Spanish Conquest; indeed, Hassig lists war dogs among the new military "technologies" the Spanish introduced to the region in the sixteenth century [5] [6] [7]

[1]: Savolainen, P., Y. Zhang, J. Luo, J. Lundeberg, and T. Leitner. (2002) "Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs." Science 298:1610-1613.

[2]: Leonard, J. A., R. K. Wayne, J. Wheeler, R. Valadez, S. Guillén, and C. Vilà. (2002) "Ancient DNA evidence for old world origin of new world dogs." Science 298: 1613-1616.

[3]: Sanders, William T., Jeffrey R. Parsons, and Robert S. Santley. (1979) The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization. Academic Press, New York, pg. 285.

[4]: Rosenswig, Robert M. (2015) "A Mosaic of Adaptation: The Archaeological Record for Mesoamerica’s Archaic Period." Journal of Archaeological Research 23(2): 115-162.

[5]: (Hassig 1992, 143) Hassig, Robert. 1992. War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica. London; Berkeley: University of California Press. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/collectionKey/F76EVNU3/itemKey/E9VHCKDG

[6]: Hassig, Ross. (1988) Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, pg. 237.

[7]: Hassig, Ross. (1992) War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica. Berkeley: University of California Press, pg.163.


Not native to region.


Armor
Shield:
present

"Teotihuacan warriors therefore carried shields, but no other offensive weapons." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 47) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Scaled Armor:
absent

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Plate Armor:
absent

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Limb Protection:
absent

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Laminar Armor:
absent

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Helmet:
present

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Chainmail:
absent

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Breastplate:
absent

"There was little armor during the Early Classic, with the primary Teotihuacan innovation being the use of protective helmets of quilted cotton." [1]

[1]: (Hassig 1992: 48) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/E9VHCKDG.


Naval technology

Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.