Evolution of the Aztec Tecpan Palace

Author(s): Susan Toby Evans

Year: 2017


Sahagún called the Aztec palace a place of wisdom, and in the mature Aztec empire, sages of all kinds gathered in the tecpans and were members of elite families. The power of ruling families was based, in part, on their more sophisticated education, including divination and curing, and palaces as centers of knowledge served their communities. We know this from descriptions of contact-era imperial palaces, and we also know that these impressive places were the products of the evolution of the power structure of the Postclassic Period Central Highlands of Mexico. Tenochtitlan's tecpan dates from the 1370s, a time when the rising population of the Basin of Mexico stimulated the establishment of local tecpans to administer the larger villages. This paper uses archaeological and ethnohistoric evidence to trace the proliferation of Aztec palaces, and its implications for the potential for locally based diviners and curers, important purveyors of knowledge to their communities.

Cite this Record

Evolution of the Aztec Tecpan Palace. Susan Toby Evans. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429081)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13249