Washington: Ruins of an ancient urban center in the heart of the Purépecha Empire in Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, located in the central Mexican state of Michoacán, have been discovered by a Colorado State University archaeologist and his team.
At the time of European contact, the Purépecha Empire - sometimes called the Tarascan Empire - controlled much of western Mexico with a mutually fortified frontier shared with their rivals, the Aztecs to the east.
The settlement may be as large as 5 square kilometers and dates to AD 1000-1520. Initial results suggest the peak occupation of the newly discovered urban center occurred just prior to the formation of the Purépecha Empire, further indicating that results from the study may yield new clues regarding the empire’s formation.
“Much of this settlement is similar to a modern-day suburb with hundreds of small house mounds where ordinary families lived and carried out activities. By today’s standards this urban center seems small but by documenting these ruins, my team and I are helping anthropologists identify different aspects of ancient cities,” said Christopher Fisher, associate professor in CSU’s Department of Anthropology. “The Lake Pátzcuaro Basin was the geopolitical core of the empire with a dense population, centralized settlement systems, engineered environment and a socially stratified society.”
The discovery was made in the summer of 2009.
Fisher and his team will present preliminary findings from the 2009 field season at the annual Society for American Archaeology meetings in St. Louis, April 14-18.