A Postclassic City with No Blade Workshops: How did the Calixtlahuacan’s get their Stone Tools?

Author(s): Bradford Andrews

Year: 2017


Analysis of the obsidian artifacts recovered from households in the city of Calixtlahuaca (AD 1130–1530) indicates that prismatic blade production was not a domestic affair. Furthermore, intensive survey did not reveal evidence of onsite blade workshops anywhere in the city. This finding is at odds with what has been reported for many other Postclassic urban centers. This paper discusses why the blade-core data are not consistent with onsite blade production. It then evaluates three models for explaining how the Calixtlahuacans provisioned themselves with blades: finished blade trade, long-distance itinerant craftsmen, or local craftsmen working outside the city limits. The discussion examines why the quantity and quality of blade production artifacts do not indicate onsite blade production, and what the ratios of proximal, medial, and distal blade sections might indicate about provisioning. Evaluating how the Calixtlahuacans got their obsidian is important for understanding how the Postclassic market system was organized outside the Basin of Mexico. By whatever means Calixtlahuaca’s citizens got their blades, it is clear that after the Mexica conquest of 1474, less obsidian reached the city than was previously the case. This change is likely to have had a detrimental effect on the well-being of the city’s inhabitants.

Cite this Record

A Postclassic City with No Blade Workshops: How did the Calixtlahuacan’s get their Stone Tools?. Bradford Andrews. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429970)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15218