Skip to main content

Volume 58 Supplement 10

Special Issue: Paleomagnetism and Tectonics in Latinamerica

Archaeomagnetic investigation of oriented pre-Columbian lime-plasters from Teotihuacan, Mesoamerica


Results of an archaeomagnetic study of two excavation field seasons at the Xalla and Teopancazco residential areas of the ancient Prehispanic city of Teotihuacan, Central Mexico are reported. One-hundred and fifty three oriented samples of lime-plasters from the two archaeological sites were collected for the study. NRM directions are reasonably well grouped. Alternating field demagnetization shows single or two-component magnetizations. Rock magnetic measurements point to fine-grained titanomagnetites with pseudo-single domain behaviour. Characteristic site mean directions from both sites are correlated to the available palaeosecular variation curve for Mesoamerica. The mean directions obtained from Xalla site point to average dates of 550 AD±25 years that matches with the documented ‘Big Fire’ of Teotihuacan (AD 575). Two consecutive construction levels at Teopancazco were estimated as AD 250–350 and AD 350–425 respectively.


  • Aitken, M. J., Science-based Dating in Archaeology, Longman Archaeology Series, Longman, pp. 225–259, 1990.

    Google Scholar 

  • Day, R., M. Fuller, and V. A. Schmidt, Hysteresis properties of titanomag-netites: grain size and compositional dependence, Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 13, 260–267, 1977.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dunlop, D. J., Theory and application of the Day plot (Mrs/Ms versus Hcr/Hc) 1. Theoretical curves and tests using titanomagnetite data, J. Geophys. Res. B: Solid Earth, 107(3), 5-1-5-15, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Genevey, A. and Y. Gallet, Intensity of the geomagnetic field in western Europe over the past 2000 years: New data from ancient French pottery, J. Geophys. Res., 107(B11), 2285, doi:10.1029/2001JB000701, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hueda-Tanabe, Y., A. M. Soler-Arechalde, J. Urrutia-Fucugauchi, L. Barba, L. Manzanilla, M. Rebolledo, and. A. Goguitchaishvili, Archaeomagnetic studies in central México—dating of Mesoamerican lime-plasters, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 147, 269–283, 2004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirschvink, J. L., The least-square line and plane and the analysis of palaeomagnetic data, Geophysical Journal of the Astronomical Society, 62, 699–718, 1980.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lanos, P., M. Kovacheva, and A. Chauvin, Archaeomagnetism, methodology and applications: implementation and practice of the archeaomag-netic method in France and Bulgaria, European J. Archaeology, 2(3), 365–392, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Latham, A. G., H. P. Schawrz, and D. C. Ford, The paleomagnetism and U-Th dating of Mexican stalagmite. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 79, 195–207, 1986.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Le Goff, M., Gallet, Y., Genevey, and A. Warmé, N. On archeomagnetic secular variation curves and archeomagnetic dating, Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 4160, 1–9, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manzanilla, L., 1998–2000 Informes técnicos entregados al Consejo de Arqueología del INAH, Unpublished Internal Report, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manzanilla, L. R., Teopancazco: un conjunto residencial teotihuacano, Arqueología Mexicana, XI(64), 50–53, 2003.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manzanilla, L. and L. López Luján, Exploraciones en un posible palacio de Teotihuacan: El Proyecto Xalla (2000–2001), Mexicon, XXIII(3), 58–61, 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manzanilla, L., Metrópolis prehispánicas e impacto ambiental: el caso de Teotihuacan a través del tiempo, Volumen especial de la UMEC, (Margarita Caballero, ed.), Fondo de Cultura Económica (in press).

  • Noel, M. and C. Batt, A method for correcting geographically separated remanence directions for the purpose of archaeomagnetic dating, Geophys. J. Int., 102, 753–756, 1990.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ortega-Guerrero, B. and J. Urrutia Fucugauchi, A paleomagnetic secular variation record from Late Pleistocene-Holocene lacustrine sediments from Chalco lake, basin of Mexico, Quaternary International, 43/44, 87–96, 1997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rattray, E. Ch., Fechamientos por radiocarbono en Teotihuacan, in Arqueología, 6, segunda época, 3–18, 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tarling, D. H., Palaeomagnetism. Principles and Applications in Geology, Geophysics and Archaeology, 379 pp., Chapman and Hall, London, 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tauxe, L., T. A. T. Mullender, and T. Pick, Potbellies, wasp-waists, and superparamagnetism in magnetic hysteresis, J. Geophys. Res., 101(B1), 571–583, 1996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Investigaciones paleomagnéticas y arqueomagnéticas en México, Anales Instituto de Geofsica, 21, 27–34, 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  • Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Paleomagnetic study of the Xitle-Pedregal de San Angel lava flow, southern basin of Mexico, Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 97, 177–196, 1996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolfman, D., A re-evaluation of Mesoamerican chronology: AD 1–1200, Ph.D. Thesis University of Colorado, 1973.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolfman, D., Mesoamerican chronology and archaeomagnetic dating, AD 1-1200, in Archaeomagnetic Dating, edited by J. L. Eghmy and R. S. Sternbeg, 446 pp., Univ. Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, 1990.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. M. Soler-Arechalde.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Soler-Arechalde, A.M., Sánchez, F., Rodriguez, M. et al. Archaeomagnetic investigation of oriented pre-Columbian lime-plasters from Teotihuacan, Mesoamerica. Earth Planet Sp 58, 1433–1439 (2006).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words