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The chronology and collapse of pre-Aztec raised field (chinampa) agriculture in the northern Basin of Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2015

Christopher T. Morehart
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA (Email: Christopher.Morehart@asu.edu; author for correspondence)
Charles Frederick
Affiliation:
Department of Geography and Environment, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA Geoarchaeological consultant, 2901 FM 1496, Dublin, TX 76446, USA

Abstract

Raised field agriculture in the Basin of Mexico was a highly sustainable farming method that did not depend upon centralised political control. Study of the chinampa system around the Early and Middle Postclassic city of Xaltocan through a combination of remote sensing, GIS, targeted excavation and AMS dating has revealed an extensive area of raised fields that was abandoned when Xaltocan was conquered by an alliance of powerful neighbours during the fourteenth century AD. The rise and abandonment of the chinampa system were thus directly linked to the political economy of the city-state. The failure to revive the raised field systems in the following Aztec period can also be attributed to the impact of political, economic and ecological factors.

Type
Research
Copyright
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2014

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