March 25, 2015

New Research on Aztec-Tlaxcallan Obsidian Sourcing

A team of researchers from North Carolina State University, the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional-Unidad Mérida, El Colegio de Michoacán and Purdue University have been studying the independent republic of Tlaxcallan during the Aztec era. They focused on obsidian sources for Tlaxcala. The Tlaxcallan obsidian was mostly obtained from a source at El Paredon, just near the Aztec frontier. Why didn’t the Aztecs intervene to block that source from their Tlaxcallan enemy? Probably because the time and effort involved would not have been worth it, since other sources were available. The researchers used x-ray fluorescence on obsidian from Tlaxcallan and compared that to other obsidian sources in the area, including the Aztec’s main source at Pachuca.
The paper, “The Geopolitics of Obsidian Supply in Postclassic Tlaxcallan: A Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Study,” was published online March 25 in the Journal of Archaeological Science. has the report here;

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