X hits on this document

PDF document

Calixtlahuaca: A Brief Guide to the Site - page 2 / 16





2 / 16

listed as a town in the Aztec tributary province of Tollocan, and other documents suggest that Axayacatl installed tribute collectors there.


The archaeological site of Calixtlahuaca is located in the modern village of San Francisco Calixtlahuaca. Postclassic settlement was spread out along the slopes of Cerro Tenismo (a 250-meter hill) and onto the plain at its base. The site is an official government archaeological zone, whose outline is shown in fig. 2.

The archaeological zone, as surveyed by the Centro INAH en el Estado de México, extends to the summit of the Cerro, covering a total of about 140 hectares (1.4 square km.). The modern village covers the northern and northeastern edges of the site. The area of occupation clearly extends beyond the boundaries shown in fig. 1. The identification of the extent of settlement was one of the objectives of the 2006 fieldwork season of the Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project. The site surface on the slopes is a mosaic of pasture and small maize plots bounded by stone terrace walls and maguey semi- terraces; these terrace fields are visible on the aerial photo in fig. 2. On the plain the site is covered by a mixture of larger maize plots, fields of low-intensity use, and modern houselots.

José García Payón excavated at Calixtlahuaca over several seasons in the early 1930s. He was attracted by the monumental architecture scattered over the site. He identified 17 structures, clearing and restoring 8 of these (most are shown in fig. 1). He also uncovered a series of rich burials and offerings; most date to the Postclassic period, with a smaller number from Classic times.

After his work at Calixtlahuaca, García Payón excavated at Malinalco and then he moved to Veracruz and spent the remainder of his career working at major sites such as El Tajín and Zempoala. Although he visited Calixtlahuaca during his later career (fig. 17), he failed to publish fully his fieldwork from the 1930s.

José García Payón published two major articles on his work at Calixtlahuaca, and the introductory volume of a planned multi-volume site report. After his death, historian Mario Colín

located García Payón’s unpublished notes and materials, and Wanda Tommasi and Leonardo Manrique assembled this material and published two books of a proposed three-volume set. Unfortunately, a planned third volume of illustrations was edited and prepared, but became lost and was never published. I am engaged in an ongoing search for this manuscript and other excavation notes and materials.

Based on the results of the 2006 field season, the occupation at Calixtlahuaca dates to the Aztec period (known as the Middle and Late Postclassic phases, ca. AD 1100 – 1520). The surface collections from that project recovered no evidence for occupation in earlier periods. The monumental architecture also fits within the general style of Aztec-period central Mexican architecture.


This section and the next describe the major architectural monuments at Calixtlahuaca. They are arranged in the most convenient order of visit, starting at the Museum and parking area.

Structure 3

Structure 3, located close to the site museum and parking area, is a circular temple with a stairway on its east side (fig. 4; see also the drawing at the front of this guidebook). By excavating into the structure, García Payón identified four construction stages (fig. 5). Most of the visible temple dates to the third stage; the base of the wall for the fourth and final stage can be seen on the south side of the temple. There is a small tunnel-like entrance in the stairway with an opening on top as a skylight. This is a modern tunnel to let visitors see evidence of the earlier construction stages; it was not present in ancient times.

Numerous Aztec written and pictorial sources tell us that circular temples were dedicated to Ehecatl, the god of wind. For example, the Spanish friar Torquemada stated,

This was the God of the Air, and he had his Temple in circular form, and it was very sumptuous ... These Indians of New Spain formed and devised the Temple of the Air God also round;


Document info
Document views62
Page views62
Page last viewedFri Jan 20 19:04:03 UTC 2017