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Calixtlahuaca: A Brief Guide to the Site - page 6 / 16





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including ceramic vessels and figurines, stone sculptures and reliefs, and other items. Most of the portable objects in the displays were excavated in burial offerings. There is also a fragmentary stone sculpture of two feet that resemble the feet of the well-known Ehecatl sculpture from the site.

The Museo de Antropología (Toluca)

The majority of the surviving artifacts and objects excavated by García Payón are in storage at the Museo de Antropología, located in the Centro Cultural Mexiquense in Toluca. This museum is run by the Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura, a branch of the government of the State of Mexico. The collections are well organized and cataloged, although little of the original provenience or contextual data survives.

The permanent exhibit of this museum includes a section on Calixtlahuaca, with a scale model of structure 3 that visitors walk through. The display cases contain many of the finest examples of ceramic vessels and objects, lithic tools, bronze jewelry and tools from the site. The famous Ehecatl sculpture (fig. 6) is on permanent display.

The Museo de Antropología also includes excellent exhibits from other archaeological sites in the State of Mexico. Admission is free to the public. The Centro Cultural Mexiquense also includes an outstanding museum of traditional folk art from the State of Mexico and a museum of modern art.

The Museo Román Piña Chán (Teotenango)

The Museo Román Piña Chán is an attractive museum at the Teotenango archaeological site in the city of Tenango del Valle. It is run by the Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura. Most of the objects on display are from excavations at the site of Teotenango, but a number of sculptures and other objects from Calixtlahuaca are also displayed at the museum (although they are not labeled as such). In fact, most of the Aztec-style stone sculptures on display are from Calixtlahuaca, including the cylindrical altar excavated in front of structure 3 (fig. 7).

Other Museums

The fine Coatlicue sculpture from Calixtlahuaca (fig. 11) is on permanent display at the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico

City. Several sculptures from Calixtlahuaca are in the permanent exhibit of the Museo Luis Mario Schneider in Malinalco, an excellent new museum.

Calixtlahuaca has been a popular location for the purchase and collection of looted objects for over one hundred years. Many objects looted and purchased at the site in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have ended up in major museums in Mexico (particularly the Museo Nacional de Antropología), in Europe, and in the United States.

Looting and Destruction of the Site

Illegal digging for artifacts at Calixtlahuaca continues today. Most of the objects recovered in this way are sold to tourists and visitors to the site. By law, all ancient objects and buildings legally belong to the Mexican people. When excavated by archaeologists approved by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, ancient objects can be studied by experts and they can be displayed in museums and exhibits for everyone to see. When looted illegally and sold to individuals, ancient objects are lost to scholarship and lost to the public. The people of Calixtlahuaca (and all Mexicans) are robbed of their history so that a few individuals can enjoy their illegal collections of artifacts.

If visitors find ancient objects at Calixtlahuaca (or at any ancient archaeological site), they should report these to the appropriate professionals (site guards, archaeologists, or personnel of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia). It is up to all people to help protect the remains of the past.


Calixtlahuaca provides some of the best preserved examples of Aztec urban architecture, including the circular temple, the palace, and several of the smaller temples. Although these buildings are not yet dated as securely as one would like, they most likely were built during the Middle (AD 1100-1300) and Late Postclassic (AD 1300- 1520) periods, otherwise known as the Aztec period. Most of the construction activity took place before Calixtlahuaca and Matlatzinco were conquered by the Mexica king Axayacatl in 1478. This dating suggests that the widespread distribution of Aztec architectural forms and styles throughout central Mexico occurred long before the


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