Rulership and palaces at Teotihuacan

William T. Sanders, Susan Toby Evans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Of all the Classic-period capitals in Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan was unique in terms of its size, the scale of its public architecture, its large population, and the indications that it managed an expansive domain of political relations. In consequence, Teotihuacan's palace architecture should be conspicuous-on a larger scale and more luxurious than the city's other residences and than the palaces of other Classic sites. Unfortunately, identifying the residence-or residences-of Teotihuacan's rulers has been an archaeological challenge, a problem almost as difficult as understanding the nature of Teotihuacan's rulership. In this chapter, we examine evidence for Teotihuacan's main palaces. We hypothesize that the most important of these was the Street of the Dead Complex, but that other elite administrative compounds may have been established in the northeastern sector of the city and at the Ciudadela. Furthermore, we explore the relationship among these structures, Teotihuacan's rulership and the extent of its domain and influence, and the cult of the Feathered Serpent, suggesting that the mythical departure of the Feathered Serpent from the Central Highlands of Mexico reflects events in culture history that may have occurred not once, but repeatedly. Evidence from Matacapan, along the Gulf Coast, and Maya Tikal reveals that Teotihuacan's incursions into foreign lands created the opportunity for the development of the city's large middle class and, in turn, were underwritten by this affluent group, whose wealth is evidenced in its palatial housing compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalaces and Power in the Americas
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Peru to the Northwest Coast
PublisherUniversity of Texas Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)9780292709843
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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