Here’s how she describes her talk, entitled “The Fall of Teotihuacan: Archeology Beyond the Pyramids”:
For many centuries before its collapse around AD 550, Teotihuacan thrived as the capital of one of the largest and earliest urban societies to develop in the Americas. Celebrated for its massive pyramids, temple complexes, and colorful murals, this World Heritage Site is visited by millions of people each year and continues to be studied by archaeologists. However, Teotihuacan was more than a grand city; its population and territory extended for miles in every direction. The remains of these communities now lie buried underneath the sprawling suburbs of Mexico City and neighboring towns. How did surrounding populations interact with the capital, and what happened to them when Teotihuacan collapsed?
In this talk, Sarah Clayton will discuss current field research at Chicoloapan, a large community south of Teotihuacan that appears to have prospered even as the central capital came unraveled. Clayton and colleagues are combining excavation, dating methods, and remote-sensing techniques to reconstruct the growth of Chicoloapan and explore what daily life was like for its inhabitants. In addition to providing new information about Teotihuacan’s hinterland, the project aims to understand local strategies for rebuilding community after the collapse of a central state.
About the Speaker
Sarah Clayton is an archaeologist interested in how the world’s earliest big cities developed, how they interacted with surrounding communities, and why they were eventually abandoned. She is an associate professor in UW–Madison’s Department of Anthropology and an affiliated faculty member of American Indian Studies and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies.
Clayton earned her Ph.D. at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change before coming to UW-Madison in 2010. She directs the Chicoloapan Viejo Project, which combines archaeological, geophysical, and paleoenvironmental research to study rapid urban growth in an ancient community. Research at Chicoloapan has been supported by the National Science Foundation since 2012 and involves collaboration with scholars of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Université Paris 1-Pantheon Sorbonne, France.
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