Burial Distribution as a Reflection of Social Organization in Late Postclassic Tlaxcallan


The Late Postclassic state of Tlaxcallan represents a void in Aztec hegemony that is still poorly understood. Ethnohistoric studies, extensive archaeological survey and limited excavation suggest that the social and political organization of this group diverged from the empire’s policies of rule, allowing for much local authority and cooperative governance. Fargher et al. (2010) argue that a unique form of social organization may have contributed to the state’s ability to remain autonomous from the Aztec Empire. Mortuary archaeology and the analysis of burial patterns contribute a new line of evidence for reconstructing past ideology, social organization, and political relationships. Comparing preliminary excavation results to patterns found at earlier and contemporaneous sites in Mesoamerica, this paper will use mortuary archaeology to explore the significance of burial patterns at Tlaxcallan. Excavations conducted in the 2013-2015 field seasons of the Proyecto Arqueológico de Tepeticpac and Tlaxcallan Archaeological Project revealed burials in four central plazas, with no burials appearing in household contexts. This pattern may suggest a more collective burial trend, which downplayed residential structures as centers for the creation of group identity. The burial patterns found will be further discussed in the presentation.

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Burial Distribution as a Reflection of Social Organization in Late Postclassic Tlaxcallan. Keitlyn Alcantara, Lane F. Fargher, Aurelio Lopez Corral, John K. Millhauser, Verenice Y. Heredia Espinoza. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404566)

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Spatial Coverage

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