When was the Sun Pyramid Built? Maintaining the Status Quo at Teotihuacan, Mexico

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Latin American Antiquity


Rebecca Sload


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The traditional view based on ceramics is that construction of the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan commenced in the first century A .D. Likewise, radiocarbon dates from the artificial cave beneath the Pyramid indicate that it was created at about the same lime. Both Pyramid and cave are seen as having a role in the founding of the city. Recent excavation inside the Pyramid produced radiocarbon dates that cluster in the mid-third century A.D. Members of the Sun Pyramid Project interpreted the dates as representing initial construction of the structure, moving it significantly later in time than previously thought. They also reinterpreted the dates for the construction of the cave, making it contemporaneous with the revised Pyramid construction. This paper adds radiocarbon dates from the cave to the original set and employs Bayesian analysis. The initial interpretation is supported: the dates reflect a cycle of cave creation through termination that began in the midfirst century and lasted about 200 years. I interpret the dates from the Pyramid as reflecting ritual associated with cave termination and a concomitant redefinition of the Pyramid that involved architectural modifications and tunneling. Pyramid and cave dates are reconciled with each other, with ceramics, and with the ceramic chronology. The traditional timing of first century Pyramid construction is maintained, along with its social, political, and economic implications.

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