Phase 1: mapping Cerro Jazmín

Map of Cerro Jazmin produced in Phase I of CJAP

Map of Cerro Jazmin produced in Phase I of CJAP


During Phase 1 we mapped Cerro Jazmín while at the same time conducing an intensive surface survey. The information generated by the map and survey revealed a long, but intermittent history of urban occupation at Cerro Jazmín. Geomorphic survey and soil data from the surrounding area also revealed a complex history of erosion, deposition, and soil formation. An interesting find was that a period of population and urban growth corresponded with a time of landscape stability and soil formation in the early Postclassic.

Urban occupation at Cerro Jazmín dates back to the Terminal Formative or Early Ramos period (300-100 BC) and it continued, intermittently, for nearly 1800 years until the Postclassic period (15th century), when Cerro Jazmín was no longer the most prominent political power on the northwestern edge of the Nochixtlán Valley. By the start of the Colonial period power had shifted to the cacicazgo of Yanhuitlán.

The longevity of occupation at Cerro Jazmin suggests a pattern of urbanism capable of supporting a large population for centuries, no small feat even by modern urban standards. Thus, this project focuses on Cerro Jazmin as a valuable case study to investigate a long-lived and potentially sustainable pattern of highland urbanism and agriculture.

The Making of the Map

mapping crew holding prisms in the 2009 season

mapping crew holding prisms in the 2009 season

The image above shows a common moment during the two years of fieldwork that took to produce this detailed map using a total station. Part of the crew holding prisms steady as the mapper quickly shot a line of points. We took points close to each other, in a high density when possible to get a good sense of the topography of the hill. Through months of skill, patience, endurance, and effort we mapped a large and complex hilltop terraced city. This project and its success was possible thanks to a great team of dedicated archaeologists and local workers from Santa Maria Tiltepec, Oaxaca.

PHASE 1: results

We have published some of the results from Phase 1 of the project. Some of these results are:

Pérez Rodríguez, Verónica, Kirk C. Anderson and Margaret K. Neff. 2011. The Cerro Jazmín Archaeological Project: investigating prehispanic urbanism and its environmental impact in the Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca, Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology 36(2):83-99.


PHASE 1 funding sources 

Phase 1 was made possible with support from the National Science Foundation.

National Science Foundation - Where Discoveries Begin

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