Chinampa agriculture, surplus production, and political change at xaltocan, Mexico

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21 Scopus citations


This article examines the productivity of agriculture at the Postclassic polity of Xaltocan, Mexico. Employing multiple lines of data (remote sensing, artifactual, ecofactual, chronological, demographic, historic, ethnographic, and environmental), it reconstructs the potential productivity of an integrated raised field, chinampa system that surrounded the polity. This exercise reveals that the system was capable of producing a sizeable caloric surplus above the needs of the kingdom's estimated total population and the number of laborers necessary to maintain full production. To situate the processes related to agricultural production, the paper considers how farmers' strategies were articulated with multiple institutions. Increased integration between political, social, and household institutions possibly fostered residents' incorporation into the body politic and provided mechanisms to finance the political economy. Such integration and dependency fractured, however, when Xaltocan was conquered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages14
JournalAncient Mesoamerica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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