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Life and Death in the Ancient City of Teotihuacan

A Modern Paleodemographic Synthesis

Written by Rebecca Storey

Publication Year: 1992

Cities arose independently in both the Old World and in the pre-Columbian New World. Lacking written records, many of these New World cities can be studied only through archaeology, including the earliest pre-Columbian city, Teotihuacan, Mexico, one of the largest cities of its time (150 B.C. to A.D. 750). Thus, an important question is how similar New World cities are to their Old World counterparts.

Before recent times, the dense populations of cities made them unhealthy places because of poor sanitation and inadequate food supplies. Storey's research shows clearly that although Teotihuacan was a very different environment and culture from 17th-century London, these two great cities are comparable in terms of health problems and similar death rates.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v

Tables and Figures

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pp. vii-xi

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pp. xiii-xvii

IN 1980 DR. WILLIAM T. SANDERS of the Pennsylvania State University began the project entitled ''A Reconstruction of a Classic-Period Cultural Landscape in the Teotihuacan Valley," funded by the National Science Foundation. The main concern was to excavate potential irrigation canals on the southern edge of the city, which were thought to date to the Middle Horizon...

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1. Anthropology and Paleodemography: The Problem and Its Theoretical Foundations

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pp. 1-26

ONE OF THE MORE VISIBLE TRENDS in the anthropological literature since the 1970s is the increasing interest in demography (e.g., Baker and Sanders 1972; Swedlund and Armelagos 1976). Although some study of demographic characteristics for anthropological problems was undertaken early in this century...

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2. Teotihuacan and the Demography of Preindustrial Cities

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pp. 27-44

THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE of Teotihuacan in the northeastern Valley of Mexicu and near Mexico City has long been considered one of the most impressive prehistoric sites in the world (see Figure 2-1). A large-scale project to study Teotihuacan and the Teotihuacan Valley, using primarily surface survey, was initiated in the 1960s...

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3. The Tlajinga 33 Apartment Compound

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pp. 45-70

THE EARLY URBAN CENTER of Teotihuacan was characterized by the distinctive residential unit called the apartment compound. These compounds are large structures with complex plans of rooms, patios, and central courtyards that could have housed populations up to 100 people (Millon 1976), perhaps organized into...

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4. The Tlajinga 33 Skeletons

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pp. 71-101

A PRIME OBJECTIVE of the Tlajinga 33 compound excavation was the recovery of all human skeletal material present, no matter how fragmentary. Although complete, well-preserved skeletons are preferred and are more informative about past populations, paleodemographers and osteologists realize that fragmentary material can also yield valuable information...

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5. General Demographic Characteristics of the Tlajinga 33 Population

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pp. 102-136

THE TLAJINGA 33 skeletal population was found in two different contexts. The burials were more carefully and completely excavated, but human material from general provenience contexts was collected from screens and general shoveling and troweling. The burial contexts often contain significant proportions of an individual; the general provenience collections are all skeletal bits, mostly of incomplete elements...

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6. Paleodemographic Analysis of the Tlajinga 33 Skeletons

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pp. 137-192

Paleodemography, the use of demographic methods on skeletal populations to characterize demographic processes and determine the vital rates of past populations, has always been a somewhat controversial enterprise. It has been characterized as "a subject which is simultaneously intensely interesting...

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7. Paleopathology, Health, and Mortality at Tlajinga 33

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pp. 193-237

THE INVESTIGATION of mortality patterns at Tlajinga 33 should focus, at least partially, on possible causes of death in the population. Mortality is obviously related to the health and adequacy of diet of a population. Thus, evidence of potential problems in the lifestyle at Teotihuacan is important in any assessment of the demographic...

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8. Mortality Models and the Demographic Significance of Tlajinga 33

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pp. 238-266

HAVING OBSERVED the paleopathological indicators present in the skeletons from Tlajinga 33, we now need to integrate them into mortality profiles for the skeletal sample. As discussed in Chapter 6, the mean age at death has an understandable relation with life expectancy at birth, and also with mortality...

Appendix: Metric Measurements Used in the Discriminant-Function Sexing

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pp. 267-269

References Cited

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pp. 271-298


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pp. 299-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384357
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817305598

Page Count: 327
Publication Year: 1992