ASU In the News

ASU archaeologist studies urbanization in ancient Mexico

<p>For five years, Arizona State University archaeologist Michael E. Smith has led field work and artifact analysis at the Mexican site of Calixtlahuaca that has yielded over half a million artifacts dating back as far as 1100 A.D.</p><p>The Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project centers on an in-depth investigation of the remains of the once-bustling urban center of the Matlatzinco culture, closely akin to the Aztecs.</p><p>Sherds, pieces of obsidian from ancient tools and musical instruments are some of the objects researchers are unearthing and using to piece together information on the spatial organization, households, farming systems and economic processes of what was the third-largest Aztec-period city in Central Mexico.</p><p>Smith, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, explains that, “This is a new kind of archaeology for Aztec urban centers. Instead of excavating palaces, pyramids and tombs, we are studying the houses, workshops, terraces and farms of the commoner class. This allows us to reconstruct the city of Calixtlahuaca as a social community rather than simply as a place where kings and elites built large buildings.”</p><p>The project, sponsored by ASU, is supported by the National Science Foundation and includes El Colegio Mexiquense and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia as partnering institutions. Smith points out that the people of San Francisco Calixtlahuaca have also added greatly to the project’s success and expresses that all recovered artifacts will remain in Mexico. The project includes experts from the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Germany and students from ASU, a Mexican university and institutions in several other countries.</p><p>A full-page spread of photos taken from the project’s lab at El Colegio Mexiquense appears in the Mexican newspaper Milenio.</p><p>On a related note, Smith’s Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project blog,, was recently voted one of the Top 50 Archaeology Blogs by Online PhD Programs.</p>

Article Source: Milenio
Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change