OBSIDIAN BIFACE PRODUCTION AT TEOTIHUACAN:REEXAMINING A COYOTLATELCO PHASEWORKSHOP FROM HACIENDA METEPEC
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This paper provides a reanalysis of a specialized biface workshop at Coyotlatelco-phase (
. 650–800) Teotihuacan excavated byEvelyn Rattray in 1979. Although Teotihuacan had already declined as a major center prior to this phase, the resident population wasstill being serviced by a variety of craftsmen, including knappers. The remains of an obsidian workshop at Hacienda Metepec giveinsight into workshop production within Epiclassic-period Teotihuacan. A single workshop produced between 4,700 and 8,700projectile points similar in shape to San Marcos points. The homogeneous workmanship indicates a single knapper, perhaps over several years of effort.
Teotihuacan, located in the Basin ofMexico, has long been regardedas a city with important craft production sites. At its height, Classicperiod Teotihuacan (approximately
. 300–600) was the most populous city in Mesoamerica. Craftsmen fabricated the comfortsof life inside its walls; now archaeologists are plumbing the city’sremains for clues about its industries. Archaeologists discoveredlarge surface deposits of obsidian material often associated withlarge public buildings. These sizable deposits formed the basis of many theories about the economic reach of the city withinMesoamerica (Andrews 1999; Clark 1986, 2003a:27–30; Cowgill1997; Millon 1981; Pasztory 1997; Santley 1984; Spence 1967,1977, 1981) and are still being investigated (Carballo 2005).Furthermore, subsequent excavations have demonstrated productionof other materials within the city, such as ceramics (Sheehy 1992),ﬁgurines (Sullivan 2004), and lapidary objects (Widmer 1991).Excavation in the outskirts of the city have also revealed areas of craft production (Cabrera Corte´s 2004; Turner 1987).This paper will determine the workshop status, output, andorganization of a specialized biface workshop from Coyotlatelcophase Teotihuacan, which coincides with the Epiclassic period(roughly
650–800). Although Teotihuacan’s earlier Classicperiod economic structure has been the focus of multiple projects(Drennan et al. 1990; Spence 1987), much less is known about itsEpiclassic-period economy or inhabitants (Diehl 1989; MoragasSegura 2005). Even though the Coyotlatelco phenomenon is inter-esting in its own right (Solar Valverde 2006), a full discussionof its issues are beyond this paper. Sufﬁce to say that theCoyotlatelco phase at Teotihuacan was a period of comparativelylow population and partial abandonment, with unoccupied build-ings providing convenient locations for material storage andrefuse disposal. Yet, strong continuity in craft production persistedwithin the city. The Otumba obsidian mines continued to provideraw material for large atlatl darts produced within the Hacienda Metepec barrio (Nelson 2000:42). This reanalysis of the Hacienda Metepec obsidian workshop debitage provides new informationon the nature of obsidian production in Epiclassic-periodTeotihuacan.
THE HACIENDA METEPEC WORKSHOP EXCAVATION
The obsidian workshop at Hacienda Metepec was excavated byEvelyn Rattray in 1979. The Hacienda Metepec barrio is on thefar eastern side of Teotihuacan’s East Avenue (Figure 1) (see alsoMillon et al. 1973:Map 82 section 9:N1E7). Excavations realizedwithin this barrio uncovered a large deposit of obsidian debris ina workshop setting (Rattray 1979, 1980, 1981). This location wasinitially selected for excavation because of the abundance of Coyotlatelco ceramic material on the surface. During the courseof excavation, a large subsurface deposit of obsidian debris wasrecovered within and around the remains of a Metepec-phase apart-ment compound that was reused as a Coyotlatelco residence with a workshop and associated dump (Rattray 1989:243) (Figure 2).The apartment compound was a standard Teotihuacan residence(Pasztory 1997:48) in style, consisting of a sunken patio withstairs leading to a columned small room (the portico), then a second larger room (north room) behind the ﬁrst. It had been aban-doned for perhaps 50 years prior to its reuse by Coyotlatelcopeoples (Rattray 1989:243). The portico area measures 5.5 m by7 m (Rattray 1979:5) while the patio measures 10.5 m by 12.5 m (Rattray 1987:454). The initial excavation centered on the porticoarea. However, on encountering obsidian deposits mixed withhousehold refuse in clearly secondary context on the steps, thepatio area was included in the excavation, yielding large obsidiandeposits
nearly devoid of other cultural material (Rattray1989:243). An area of approximately 170 m
was excavated, and
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2009 Cambridge University Press. Printed in the U.S.A.doi:10.1017/S0956536109000121