Teotihuacan Research Laboratory

Research Vision

The current vision for the ASU Teotihuacan Research Laboratory is a coordinated series of projects focused on specific answerable questions, centered on the urban nature of the city, that will enable meaningful comparisons between Teotihuacan and modern cities.

Topics of interest include the degree of socioeconomic inequality among households, differences among the varied districts of the city, the nature of governance of both the city and the state it ruled, the organization and technologies of craft workshops and the extent of state control versus independent producers, and the nature of commercial institutions.

The overriding question is the extent to which Teotihuacan was similar to modern cities and the extent to which it was different. What lessons does the ancient city have for us today? For each of these topics we have inklings, but far more can and should be done to go beyond these inklings.

Because Teotihuacan flourished for some six centuries, we have the opportunity to see how all these topics changed over time, both through internal processes and through human and natural impacts on the environment. At present, little is known about this, and addressing these issues of sustainability is another of our objectives.

Support the Lab

You can support our research by donating to the Teotihuacan Research Laboratory Endowment, a fund which provides for the laboratory that makes our projects possible.

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Current Projects

Photo of burials at Teotihuacan
Burials and Society at Teotihuacan

Director: Michael E. Smith

A group of ASU undergraduates is creating the first database of human burials from Teotihuacan, to learn about ancient wealth, status and gender.

Illustration of Teotihuacan inhabitants
Living the Good Life at Teotihuacan

Director: Michael E. Smith

The unique apartment compounds at Teotihuacan are key to unlocking the secrets of life and society in the ancient city.

Photo of architecture at Teotihuacan
Completing Research and Sharing the Data of the Teotihuacan Mapping Project

Director: Michael E. Smith

ASU archaeologists are completing unfinished tasks of the Teotihuacan Mapping Project and archiving the data for others to use.

photo of artifact from Teotihuacan
Plaza of the Columns Complex

Director: Saburo Sugiyama

This current excavation is uncovering one of the major civic and ceremonial compounds in the heart of Teotihuacan.

Students measuring in field
Politics and History of Sustainability: The Northern Basin of Mexico Historical Ecology Project

Director: Christopher Morehart

ASU fieldwork is disentangling the roles of environment, climate and political dynamics in shaping past landscapes in the Northern Basin of Mexico.

Past Projects

photo of the almenas on the Quetzalpapalotl Palace
The Almenas of Teotihuacan

Director: Michael E. Smith

These unusual roof ornaments help scholars understand the uses of buildings at Teotihuacan.

photo of feathered serpent head stone carving
Feathered Serpent Pyramid Project

Directors: Saburo Sugiyama (Arizona State University),
Ruben Cabrera (Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History),
George Cowgill (Arizona State University)

photo of the Pyramid of the Moon
Pyramid of the Moon Project

Directors: Saburo Sugiyama (Arizona State University),
Ruben Cabrera (Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History)

Map of Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan Mapping Project

External Projects

photo of grad students excavating apartment compound
Tlajinga Project

David Carballo (Boston University) is directing excavations at houses and workshops in a southern neighborhood of the city.

photo of Teotihuacan pyramid and cactus
Formative Interaction Systems and the Emergence
of Village Life in the Teotihuacan Valley

Deborah Nichols (Dartmouth College) and Wesley Stoner (University of Arkansas) are studying the economy and society of the Teotihuacan Valley before the growth of Teotihuacan

photo of Aztec ceramic sherds
The Aztecs at Teotihuacan (Past Project)

Susan Evans (Pennsylvania State University) has studied the Teotihuacan region in the Aztec period, long after the collapse of the Classic-period city.