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Altica: The Millennium before Teotihuacan

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

One of the big questions for archaeology is the origins of complex societies. Although one of the largest and most influential cities and states, Teotihuacan, developed in the northeastern Basin of Mexico, there has been little research in recent decades about the Formative period before the rise of Teotihuacan. The Altica Project that began in 2014 is an important step in addressing the limited problem-oriented research at Formative sites in the Basin of Mexico for over two decades. Altica is the earliest-known settled village in the Teotihuacan Valley and one of the only first-farming village sites in the Basin of Mexico that has not been engulfed by the urban sprawl of Mexico City. Despite its small size and remote location, Altica was an important piece in Early and Middle Formative exchange networks as it played a role in the early trade of Otumba obsidian and imported other goods from distant places in Mesoamerica. Papers in this session present findings from excavations and surveys at the site and studies of its artifacts and features. Contributors discuss topics ranging from diet, exchange/procurement networks focused on obsidian and ceramics, tool technologies, and the cultural and biological identities of its inhabitants.


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  • Documents (8)

Documents

  • Altica and the Role of Middlemen in Formative Obsidian Exchange (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Nadia Johnson. Kenneth Hirth.

    Altica’s location, in the Patlachique Range 10 km away from the Otumba obsidian source, suggests a potentially significant role in the distribution of Otumba obsidian. Altica may have served as an important middleman and processing site in Formative obsidian exchange, but a greater understanding of the nature of these exchange relationships is required to define this role. This paper combines geochemical sourcing and technological data from obsidian from nine Early and Middle Formative sites,...

  • Altica ceramics and figurines: Stylistic and chronological analyses (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Jennifer Carballo. Oralia Cabrera.

    Craft specialization and exchange feature prominently in explanations for the development of the first complex societies in Mesoamerica. It is clear from analyses of surface collections at Altica that during the Early and early Middle Formative periods (c. 1300-850 B.C.) its inhabitants exported obsidian tools and imported pottery from long distances, including the southern Gulf Coast. Altica is one of the few early agricultural settlements located in the northern Basin of Mexico from which we...

  • The Altica Project: Reframing the Formative Basin of Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Wesley Stoner. Deborah Nichols.

    The Altica Project, that began in 2014, is an important step in addressing the limited problem-oriented research at Formative sites in the Basin of Mexico for over two decades. Altica is the earliest-known settled village in the Teotihuacan Valley and one of the only first-farming village sites in the Basin of Mexico that has not been engulfed by the urban sprawl of Mexico City. Despite its small size and remote location, Altica was an important piece in Early and Middle Formative exchange...

  • A Glimpse of the People of Altica: Osteological and Isotopic/Radiocarbon Analysis (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Rebecca Storey. Gina Buckley. Douglas Kennett.

    Altica is the earliest-known settled village in the Teotihuacan Valley, and perhaps the only first-farming village site in the Basin of Mexico that has survived to modern times. Thus, it provides a rare glimpse into life during the Early-Middle Formative period. While only four burials comprising four individuals were recovered from pits dug into bedrock, each tells a unique story.Two individuals are older-aged females, the third, a middle-aged male, was accompanied by prestigious nonperishable...

  • Obsidian Procurement, Reduction Technology, and Utilization at Altica (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Dan Healan.

    Technological classification of nearly 30,000 pieces of obsidian recovered from survey and excavation followed by attribute analysis of stratified random samples of some 3,400 specimens reveal several distinct modes of raw material acquisition, reduction technology, and utilization at Altica. The various modes are described from a technological perspective and their various logistical, social, economic, and political implications are considered.

  • Of Mud and Magnets: Archaeometric Prospection at the Site of Altica (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Andrés Mejía Ramón. Luis Barba.

    The Formative Period site of Altica in the Patlachique range poses many problems when designing an excavation strategy. Three millennia of erosion, and centuries of chisel plowing have eviscerated the site, removing any traces of architecture and in situ remains above the tepetate (local bedrock). As such, in the early stages of the Altica Project, the primary concern was the detection and identification of sub-surface remains inside intact bedrock-incised pits. In most archaeological sites, the...

  • Prehispanic plant remains from Altica, Teotihuacan Valley Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Guillermo Acosta-Ochoa. Emily McClung de Tapia. Diana Martínez-Yrizar. Cristina Adriano-Morán. Jorge Cruz-Palma.

    Altica, situated in the southeastern sector of the Teotihuacan Valley, represents the earliest known farming community in this region. Its importance lies in the potential for the recovery of evidence for domestic plant use by these early inhabitants. Plant remains recovered over several decades in the Teotihuacan Valley provide an idea of the predominant plant communities in the area during the Early-Middle Formative, an indicator of local environmental conditions. Preliminary results from the...

  • The Role of Altica in Exchange and Interactions during the Early Middle Formative in Central Mexico (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Deborah Nichols. Wesley Stoner.

    Interaction was important early in the development of complex societies during the Formative period in Mesoamerica. Despite its small size, Altica was integrated into Early-Middle Formative exchange networks as it obtained some ceramics, obsidian blades, and ornaments of exotic stone and exported Otumba obsidian that began to circulate widely at this this time. There likely were other early villages within proximity to the Otumba source engaged in procuring obsidian for trade to other sites, but...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America