Mapping and Spatial Analysis of an Ancient Mixtec Capital in Oaxaca

Author(s): Stephen Whittington

Year: 2018


Chiyo Cahnu, a Mixtec mountaintop capital, is unusual in relation to the archaeology of Oaxaca. Mapping one square kilometer of the capital using powerful GPS devices between 2013 and 2017 revealed about 370 building sites, almost 2,400 agricultural and residential terraces, and ancient roads constructed on the steep slopes of Cerro Amole. The building sites range in complexity from single rooms to compounds with temples and dozens of rooms surrounding patios. The ball court is 45 meters long, making it one of the largest structures of its kind in Oaxaca. The capital is depicted on the famous Mapa de Teozacoalco, a document painted by a Mixtec artist and explained by a Spanish colonial administrator around 1580. Interpretation of images on the Mapa and in related pre-Hispanic and early colonial codices suggests that the principal occupation of the capital occurred over a period of only 236 years (AD 1085-1321) during the Postclassic period. Chiyo Cahnu is remarkable in the Mixtec area because it is larger than normal for Postclassic settlements and because it was inhabited for such a short length of time. The capital has implications for understanding the amount of construction a population can accomplish rapidly and its possible impetus.

Cite this Record

Mapping and Spatial Analysis of an Ancient Mixtec Capital in Oaxaca. Stephen Whittington. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442884)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -98.679; min lat: 15.496 ; max long: -94.724; max lat: 18.271 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22111