Bellicose Relations between Cacaxtla and Xochicalo in the Epiclassic Period

Author(s): Jesper Nielsen; Christophe Helmke

Year: 2015


Whereas the Epiclassic (AD 600-900) has long been recognized as a period characterized by increased conflict and warfare between the dominant city-states of central Mexico, concrete evidence for actual military actions has been rather limited. Here we discuss epigraphic and iconographic evidence that suggest that two of the major Epiclassic powers, namely Cacaxtla and Xochicalco, were involved in a violent conflict, and that Cacaxtla succeeded in capturing several prominent individuals from Xochicalco, which were subsequently portrayed on the tread of the hieroglyphic stair of the Red Temple at Cacaxtla. The tradition of displaying and naming important captives on stairs is known from other areas of Mesoamerica and at Cacaxtla their origin is betrayed by a probable toponymic reference to Xochicalco recorded in the glyphic text on the frontal riser of stair, as well as a distinct type of headdress that during the Epiclassic was worn by prominent individuals at Xochicalco and may even have served as an ethnic marker in the Postclassic. While the Epiclassic writing system remains undeciphered, we hope to show that important insights can be achieved based on careful analogies with other Mesoamerican scripts coupled with structural analyses of the texts and their accompanying imagery.

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Cite this Record

Bellicose Relations between Cacaxtla and Xochicalo in the Epiclassic Period. Jesper Nielsen, Christophe Helmke. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396132)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;