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Calixtlahuaca: A Brief Guide to the Site - page 4 / 16





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cannot see one area from the other. This suggests to archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni that their orientations were probably determined by astronomical observations of some sort.

Group C, “El Panteón”

Group C consists of several structures arranged around a patio (fig. 9). It is located about 400 meters from Group B, continuing in the same direction (up the slope and around the hill to the southwest). It is called locally el panteón (“the cemetery”) because García Payón excavated numerous burials in the patio and structures of the group.

The largest building, structure 5, has been reconstructed in such a way that several construction stages are visible (fig. 10). This was probably a small temple. Structure 6, the second- largest building in this group, has only been partially restored; it was probably another small temple. Group C also contains at least four other small structures, some or all of which were probably small platforms or altars used for various types of ritual practices.

One of the offerings excavated inside structure 5 supposedly included a Roman ceramic figurine. Problems with this find, not announced by García Payón until 3 decades after the excavations, are summarized on my web site: (www.public.asu.edu/~mesmith9/tval/RomanFiguri ne.html).

Group E

Group E consists of three unreconstructed temples built on top of Cerro Tenismo. It is a stiff climb of nearly 200 meters elevation up from Group C. The view from the hilltop is very nice, particularly looking south over Toluca and toward the Nevado de Toluca volcano. Little is known about these temples, apart from a fine sculpture of the deity Coatlicue recovered near or in this group (fig. 11). This sculpture is on display at the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.


José García Payón located two large structures on the plain below Cerro Tenismo: structures 16 and 17.

Structure 17, “El Calmecac”

Structure 17 is a large architectural complex located about 300 meters northwest of the museum. Visitors can walk down the slope, or the structure can be reached by car. Access to this fenced structure is blocked if no guard is present, but the guards at structure 3 can unlock it if required.

Structure 17 consists of a series of platforms and rooms arranged around a large central courtyard with a single entrance on the west side (fig. 12). García Payón called this complex a calmecac (“school”), and locally it is known by that label today. He was almost certainly wrong in his interpretation, however. Today, with the benefit of many studies carried out since the 1930s, it is clear that it was a palace, probably the royal palace of Calixtlahuaca. The form of structure 17—rooms and platforms arranged about a patio; a single entrance; and a tall platform opposite the entrance—fits the standard plan of Aztec palaces at numerous cities.

Although we do not know today what kinds of artifacts or offerings were excavated in the different parts or structure 17, the overall use of the building can be reconstructed from the architecture and from comparative information on other Aztec palaces. The tall platform on the east side was probably the throne room of the king. The king and his family most likely lived in the complex of rooms on the south side. The remaining rooms and platforms probably included some or all of these features common in Aztec royal palaces: rooms for nobles and for warriors to meet; storage chambers for food, weapons, and treasure; workshops for artisans producing luxury goods such as sculpture or feather art; and various shrines and ritual spaces.

Some small rooms on the back of the tall platform do not connect with the other parts of the palace; perhaps these were for stewards who managed the labor of people who came to the palace to fulfill their labor tax. In one section of the south room complex a wall of adobe bricks has surprisingly survived centuries of rain and deterioration.


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