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Urbanization and Empire at the Aztec City of Calixtlahuaca (Toluca Valley, Mexico)


This is an archaeological fieldwork project at the major important Aztec-period city of Calixtlahuaca. The pending NSF grant will cover a summer season of mapping and surface collections, an 8-month season of excavations of houses and terraces at the site, and a summer season of laboratory analyses. The overarching goals of the project are to extend knowledge of two key social processes in Aztec society: (1) urbanization and the nature of cities; (2) imperialism and the impacts of Aztec imperial expansion on provincial cities.

Download detailed project description (pdf)

Research Team
  • Michael E. Smith (PI)
  • Lawrence B. Conyers, University of Colorado, Denver (participant)
  • Charles D. Frederick, University of Texas, Austin (participant)
  • Cynthia Heath-Smith, Arizona State University (participant)
  • Dorothy Hosler, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (participant)
  • Susan M. Norris, Fordham University (participant)
  • Brian Tomaszewski, Pennsylvania State University (participant)
  • Emily Umberger, Arizona State University (participant)
  • Various unnamed graduate and undergraduate students from ASU and other universities in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe.

Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Consejo de Arqueología (Mexico City, Mexico)
Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Centro INAH Estado de México (Toluca, Mexico)
Colegio Mexiquense (Toluca, Mexico)
Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura (Toluca, Mexico)

Sources of Funding
National Science Foundation ($296,326; applied for)

Smith, Michael E. (2003)
Postclassic Urbanism at Calixtlahuaca: Reconstructing the Unpublished Excavations of José García Payón. Report to the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. Posted on the internet at:

Smith, Michael E., Jennifer Wharton, and Melissa McCarron (2003)
Las ofrendas de Calixtlahuaca. Expresión Antropológica 19:35-53.

Smith, Michael E. (2005)
Los materiales arqueológicos de Calixtlahuaca y la sociedad posclásica de Matlatzinco. Paper presented at the VII Coloquio Internacional sobre Otopames, El Colegio Mexiquense, Toluca, Mexico.

Contact: Michael E. Smith