Archaeologists unearth remains of a 1,600-year-old village

Excavations northeast of Mexico City revealed three human burials, ceramics, and architectural structures.
Sejal Sharma
Burial of an adult Teotihuacan individual
Burial of an adult Teotihuacan individual


Located approximately 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Mexico City, a Teotihuacan village was unearthed in 1960 by archaeologist Francisco González Rul. At the time, he unearthed ceramics that gave a clue that the inhabitants of the village were self-reliant fishers and gatherers. 

Archeologists, from March to June 2023, carried out new excavations which confirmed Rul’s findings. The archaeologists have unearthed constructive elements like canals, floors, rams, stone alignments, post holes, and an artesian well.

Human remains discovered

They also discovered remains of three human burials, two adults and one minor, accompanied by a series of polished boxes with an annular base.

"With these new findings, the existence of a village of Teotihuacan occupation in the area of Tlatelolco has been consolidated and demonstrated," concluded archaeologists Juan Carlos Campos Varela and archaeologist Mara Abigail Becerra Amezcua, who led the excavation.

According to the evidence of ceramics found, the Teotihuacan village dates back to 450-650 AD, corresponding to the Classic period, between the Late Xolalpan (350 to 550 AD) and Metepec (550 to 600 AD) phases.

Very little is known of the Teotihuacan occupation. It is one such archaeological site that has the longest history of exploration in Mexico. Much of our knowledge of the site, art, and culture is derived from Aztec sources. The city flourished between 100 BC and 650 AD, long before the Aztecs came in the 1400s.

Its exact origins remain a mystery, but we do know that the city was named by Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs roughly 1,000 years after its conception. Teotihuacan means ‘the place where the gods were created.’

Complex economy

Commenting on Gul’s fishermen-gatherer theory, the two lead archaeologists said the findings point to a more complex economy. 

"The complexity of the evidence recovered in this 2023 allows us to consider that the economy of this village should not have been only of self-subsistence and collection, but of mixed production, with a surplus lake use, perhaps based on hunting together with an artisanal production of ceramics or lithic, possibly specialized, since several fragments of solid and articulated modeled figurines were found,” said Varela and Amezcua.

The archaeologists also found that the Teotihuacan village must have had links of exchange and dependence with other communities on the west bank of Lake Texcoco. 

In addition to the Teotihuacan occupation, the excavations done in the 4,305 square foot (400 square meter area property within the San Rafael-Juárez-Guerrero heritage protection area also identified evidence of Mexica occupation and four other historical occupations, spanning between the 18th and 20th centuries.

The excavation and project were in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico and a research team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

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