Project Altica, Teotihuacan Valley

Our Formative work in central Mexico focuses on the small site of Altica (funded by NSF and NGS).  It is the oldest dated site in the Teotihuacan Valley (1250-850 cal BC), and therefore crucial for understanding later developments in the region.  It is one of the earliest sites in central Mexico to show substantial reliance on maize subsistence.

Perhaps of most importance is that Altica was tied into Pan-Mesoamerican Early and Middle Formative exchange networks.  It imported ceramics, jade, and some west Mexican obsidian, and exported obsidian from the nearby Otumba source that is found as far away as the Pacific Coast, the Gulf Coast, and Oaxaca.  

These early trade networks were essential for the rise of Mesoamerica’s first complex societies, and Altica was a small but important part of it.  We are just beginning to publish the results of our excavations there. This project will transform our understanding of the foundations of long-distance interaction in Formative Mesoamerica.  

It is also the first major archaeological field project focused on the Early and Middle Formative periods in the Basin of Mexico since the 1970s.  Training of students as part of this project has exposed a new generation of archaeologists to this time frame in one of Mesoamerica’s most important regions.