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Richard F. Townsend

Site of a 16th-century rock-cut Aztec temple, c. 60 km south-east of Mexico City. The temple at Malinalco is an example of a widespread type of ritual building described in 16th-century ethno-historical texts and associated with the cult of the earth. Its monolithic inner chamber is the only excavated example to have survived intact. The temple forms part of a ritual and administrative centre built at the hilltop Matlazinca town of Malinalco after it had been incorporated into the Aztec empire. The buildings were begun in 1501, under the Aztec ruler Ahuizotl (reg 1486–1502), as extensions of the symbolic architectural system developed in Tenochtitlán; they are compactly arranged along an artificial terrace partly carved from the steeply sloping mountainside. The façade comprises two sections. Sculptured guardian figures flank the foot of a flight of 13 steps ascending the lower platform. Similar figures flank the front of the upper temple chamber; another figure forms part of the centre of the 3rd to 6th steps, in which the most important sculpture is a large relief carving of a serpent-like mask framing the chamber doorway. The carved mask functions as a hieroglyph for ...


Peter W. Stahl

Pre-Columbian ceremonial site in the Chanduy Valley, Ecuador, that flourished c. 3500–1600 bce. It occupies a low ridge adjacent to the Río Verde drainage, c. 3 km inland from the Pacific coast; it covers an area of c. 12.4 ha, and it is dominated by two parallel ridges of accumulated midden deposits, oriented north–south and encompassing a low central plaza. This early appearance of ceremonial architecture, with its related settlement and subsistence features, has raised a number of important issues concerning the nature and complexity of this period in Pre-Columbian Ecuador. The site was discovered by Jorge G. Marcos in 1971 and excavated 1974–1975 by the University of Illinois Real Alto Project, and subsequently by the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Guayaquil.

Towards the center of the ridges two low mounds supporting ceremonial structures and quantities of refuse oppose each other. These mounds extend out into the plaza, dividing it into inner and outer precincts. The ...



Richard Lunniss

Pre-Columbian site in Manabí Province on the central coast of Ecuador, centered at the southern end of a sandy bay, sheltered by a headland and Salango Island. It had several phases of occupation, paralleled on nearby La Plata Island.

An early Valdivia culture settlement, indicated by ceramics, stone artifacts, and animal remains and dated by radiocarbon analysis to the 4th or late 3rd millennium bce, lay between the beach and a lagoon. Extending over the area of the lagoon was a Machalilla-phase midden containing a high density of fish bone and shell, and many mother-of-pearl fish-hooks. Thirty-eight individuals were found in graves cut through the midden, for which radiocarbon analysis has given dates in the second half of the 2nd millennium bce. Attributes of the Chorrera culture and Engoroy style are found in ceramics associated with a rectangular wooden structure built over a clay floor capping part of the Machalilla midden. The formal design of its construction and the more elaborate nature of the associated burials and depositions of artifacts suggest a ritual or ceremonial purpose. The dismantling of this building was immediately followed by the construction of the first of several low rectangular platforms surmounted by wooden structures. Later mounds were surrounded by clay-filled trenches supporting posts. Pottery of the Engoroy type, dated by radiocarbon analysis to the first half of the 1st millennium ...