Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Project Blog (reports from the field and lab)

Smith, Michael E., Aleksander Borejsza, Angela Huster, Charles D. Frederick, Isabel Rodríguez López and Cynthia Heath-Smith (2013) Aztec-Period Houses and Terraces at Calixtlahuaca: The Changing Morphology of a Mesoamerican Hilltop Urban Center. Journal of Field Archaeology 38(3):227-243.

Smith, Michael E. (2011) Calixtlahuaca. In Historia general ilustrada del Estado de México, tomo 1, geografía y arqueología, edited by Yoko Sugiura Yamamato, pp. 271-277. El Colegio Mexiquense, Toluca.

Tomaszewski, Brian M. and Michael E. Smith
2010 Politics, Territory, and Historical Change in Postclassic Matlatzinco (Toluca Valley, central Mexico). Journal of Historical Geography (in press; posted online August 17, 2010

Smith, Michael E., Juliana Novic, Angela Huster, and Peter C. Kroefges
2009 Reconocimiento Superficial y Mapeo en Calixtlahuaca. Expresión Antropológica 36:39-55

  Article from Mexican newspaper, Millennio, July 15, 2010.

Article from Mexican newspaper, Millennio, June 18, 2009.

"A New Map of Calixtlahuaca" (Antiquity, Projects Gallery)

A Computer Animation of Structure 3, the Ehecatl Temple, by Raúl Miranda Gómez.

Another Computer Animation of Structure 3, by Max Farrar (on YouTube).

Calixtlahuaca is a Postclassic period (A.D. 1100-1520) archaeological site near the Mexican city of Toluca. This web page will describe the site and the activities of the Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project. The project is supported by the National Science Foundation and Arizona State University.

Located in the Toluca Valley of highland central Mexico, Calixtlahuaca is a particularly important site for studying Postclassic-period Mesoamerican urbanism. It is one of the very few Aztec-period urban sites where both monumental architecture and extensive residential districts are preserved today. Although the site’s public architecture and stone sculpture are closely related to cities in the Aztec urban tradition, its urban layout is radically different from those cities.


Most of the settlement at Calixtlahuaca occurs on the slopes of Cerro Tenismo, a small relict volcano. The public architecture is scattered between the valley floor and the summit of the hill. The largest and best known building, Structure 3, is a circular temple whose early excavation yielded a life-sized stone sculpture of Ehecatl, the Aztec god of wind. In addition to the site’s public architecture, most the slopes of Cerro Tenismo were (and still are) covered with stone terraces, many of which have very dense surface artifact concentrations.

José García Payón excavated and restored Calixtlahuaca’s public architecture over several seasons in the 1930s. Since then, the only fieldwork at the site has been architectural consolidation by archaeologists from the Centro INAH Estado de México (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia).

Fieldwork in 2006 by our team from Arizona State University was designed to complement García Payón’s focus on public architecture by studying residential zones, terraces, and overall spatial organization of the ancient city. We made surface collections and maps and found that the site—317 hectares in area— is the third-largest Aztec-period city in central Mexico. Click here for more information on this field season.

In 2007 we excavated houses and terraces in order to investigate daily life, agriculture, social patterns, economic processes, and urban organization at Calixtlahuaca. Informal reports from that fieldwork are posted on the project blog.

For more information about the site and the current project, follow some of the links below.


Publications and Reports
Background on the NSF project
Informe on the 2006 season (lengthy, in Spanish)
A New Map of Calixtlahuaca (Antiquity, Projects Gallery)
Information on the 2006 season. (pdf version of "A new map of Calixtlahuaca")
Restsudy of fieldwork by José García Payón
 The "Roman Figurine
The Name of the Site
Archaeological Data
Matlatzinco Home Page

This web page was crated by Dr. Michael E. Smith, Professor of archaeology at Arizona State University.

© 2013, Michael E. Smith (updated Aug. 20, 2013)