Sourcing Pottery from the Aztec House of Eagles in Mexico City

An excavation at the Aztec site known as the House of Eagles (located at Templo Mayor in Mexico City) uncovered a funeral offering that included three very different types of pottery. The distinct variety among the pottery intrigued the archaeologists. Small samples from each of the pottery types were sent to MURR to be analyzed by NAA. The results? The chemical fingerprints were found to match three entirely different, earlier cultures, hundreds of years apart! The vessel at the top is a Chalco-Chulula polychrome (many colored) from about 1300 AD, during the Late Classic period. The center one is a Teotihuacan-style thin-orange pot from the Middle Classic period, and dates about 500-600 AD. The lower specimen resembles a Tohil Plumbate piece, but our NAA revealed that it is an imitation because it was formed from clays of the Valley of Mexico and probably was made after 1300 AD. Genuine Tohil Plumbates were made from clays in lower Mexico and Guatemala during the Early Post Classic period (spanning about 950-1200 AD). The scientists concluded that the Aztecs themselves must have excavated these three pieces from sites relating to those three earlier cultures. This would indicate that the Aztecs, too, were very interested in archaeology! Photo courtesy of Leonardo Lopez-Lujan.