Collection Description

Tradition Name

Central Mexico Classic

Tradition Description

The Central Mexico Classic tradition was found in the entire basin of Mexico and included parts of the states of Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Puebla, and Morelos from circa 2150-1350 BP (150 BC-AD 650). The tradition mostly consists of the city and probable colonies of the state of Teotihuacan. The state had a permanent military, probably controlled the distribution of Thin Orange Ware to other elites in Mesoamerica, and had a system of writing. At one time the city of Teotihuacan consisted of as many as 100,000 people with almost all living within multi-apartment compounds. The city contained marketplaces. Their religion included human sacrifice and probably much pageantry.


Select the Tradition Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Middle America and the Caribbean --Central Mexico



OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF Archaeology collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Central Mexico Classic collection documents, all in English, discuss the Central Mexico Classic tradition in the highlands of Mexico from around 2150 BP to 1350 BP. Several documents provide overviews of the Classic tradition in Teotihuacan (Cowgill 1997, no. 1 and Cowgill 2000, no. 2). Millon (1981, no. 3) summarizes both Teotihuacan's interactions with other parts of Mesoamerica and life in the city. Pasztory (1997, no. 4) calls her book a "portrait of a civilization through its art" (page xix) and she takes both an art history and anthropological approach to her study of Teotihuacan.

Storey (1992, no. 5) concentrates on one apartment compound, Tlajinga 33, in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. The emphasis of the study is on the demographic features, health, and quality of life of a large skeletal sample found in this compound. Several documents discuss the time period outside the city of Teotihuacan Plunket and Uruñuela (1998, no. 6) excavated at Tetimpa, a village in a region that was buried by volcanic ash, preserving many artifacts. Hirth (1978, no. 7) uses settlement data from the Amatzinac region of Morelos to examine a probable Teotihuacan colony while Hirth and Villaseñor (1981, no. 8) discuss Teotihuacan's influence in the Amatzinac and the Coatlan regions. Arana (1987, no. 14) describes the Classic period occupation at Chalcatzingo and Apostolides (1987, no. 13) describes the rock art found in the caves, boulders, and rocks around Chalcatzingo.

For further information on individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Sarah Berry

Adornos – small, mass-produced ornaments, usually in the form of a mask, attached to incense burners - - use "CERAMIC TECHNOLOGY (323)" or use "VISUAL ARTS (5311)"

Ball courts – use "RECREATIONAL STRUCTURES (345)"

Barranca – a ravine or hole caused by water erosion - use "TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY (133)" or "ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (318)" when man-made

Braseros – a pan used to hold coals - - use "CERAMIC TECHNOLOGY (323)" or use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Burned daub - use "MASONRY (333)"

Candeleros – small, crudely made incense burners - use "CERAMIC TECHNOLOGY (323)" or use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Caves – use "TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY (133)"; for use as dwellings - use "DWELLINGS (342)"; as a sacred site use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

Censers - a container for burning incense. Use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Comal – a flat pan used to cook tortillas - use "UTENSILS (415)"

Cuidadela – an apartment compound, formerly referred to as a palace - use "DWELLINGS (342)"

Cuexcomates – individual mud-and-wicker storage bins - use "UTENSILS (415)" with "PRESERVATION AND STORAGE OF FOOD (251)"

Lime Kilns – as a structure - use "MISCELLANEOUS STRUCTURES (349)"

Maguey – an agave plant used for its fibers and as a food - use "FLORA (137)," for growing the plant use "VEGETABLE PRODUCTION (244)"

Mamey – a fruit grown from trees - use "ARBORICULTURE (245)"

Mantas – rectangular plaques applied to the surface of incense burners - use "VISUAL ARTS (5311)"

Military leagues - use "MILITARY ORGANIZATION (701)"

Molcajete – a vessel for grinding chili - use "GENERAL TOOLS (412)"

Mounds - use "PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)" with "RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURES (346)" for unspecified mounds; use "MISCELLANEOUS FACILITIES (368)" for mound distribution

Paramountcy – a form of regional political-spatial organization - use "FORM AND RULES OF GOVERNMENT (642)"

Sahumadores – also known as censers, incensarios, braziers, or braseros. They were used to burn incense, such as copal, or other organic materials. Use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Sapote – also spelled zapote – from the Nahuatl word tzapotl for a soft, edible fruit. It refers to several varieties of fruit that are grown on trees - use "ARBORICULTURE (245)"

Stress factors in dental development – 145 (possibly with 152 and 147 as well)

Tepetate – a type of soil composed of thick layers of hardened volcanic ash - use "TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY (133)"

Tezontle – volcanic rock - use "TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY (133)"

Tzompantli - a wooden rack for displaying skulls, usually human - use "APPARATUS (417)" for descriptions of the rack itself; use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)" for the displayed skulls

Zapote – also spelled sapote – from a Nahuatl word for a soft, edible fruit. It refers to several varieties of fruit that are grown on trees - use "ARBORICULTURE (245)"

Indexing Notes by

Sarah Berry

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