The Aztecs ruled much of Mexico from the thirteenth century until the Spanish conquest in 1521. Outside of the imperial capital of Tenochtitlan, various urban centers ruled the numerous city-states that covered the central Mexican landscape.""Aztec City-State Capitals"" is the first work to focus attention outside Tenochtitlan, revealing these dozens of smaller cities to have been the central hubs of political, economic, and religious life, integral to the grand infrastructure of the Aztec empire.Focusing on building styles, urban townscapes, layouts, and designs, Michael Smith combines two archaeological approaches: monumental (excavations of pyramids, palaces, and public buildings) and social (excavations of houses, workshops, and fields). As a result, he is able to integrate the urban-built environment and the lives of the Aztec peoples as reconstructed from excavations.Smith demonstrates the ways in which these city-state capitals were different from Tenochtitlan and convincingly argues that urban design is the direct result of decisions made by political leaders to legitimize their own power and political roles in the states of the Aztec empire.
Michael E. Smith, professor of anthropology at Arizona State University, has spent more than twenty years in the field, excavating sites throughout Mexico. He is the author of The Aztecs and coauthor of The Postclassic Mesoamerican World.