ASU In the News

ASU archaeologist determines standard unit of measurement in ancient Mesoamerican city


According to Arizona State University archaeologist Saburo Sugiyama, the ancient city of Teotihuacan was laid out using a standard measurement unit of 32.68 inches (83 centimeters). Fox News Latino reported the news October 27, 2011, after Sugiyama presented his findings at the 5th Teotihuacan Round Table, sponsored by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Teotihuacan is famed for its three major monuments: the Pyramids of the Sun, Moon and Feathered Serpent. Through exhaustive calculations, Sugiyama determined “the constant presence” of the standard unit in all of the structures, as well as elsewhere.

He provided examples from the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, also known as the Pyramid or Temple of Quetzalcoatl. “The roof beam measures 1.66 meters in length, which corresponds to twice the unit I’m suggesting,” he said. “The same thing occurs with the distance between the snakeheads, which is four times the unit, and with the length of the stairway, 13.2 meters, which is equivalent to 16 times the unit.”

Teotihuacan, located about 50 miles northeast of Mexico City, was home to upwards of 100,000 people at its height in the fifth century, making it the second-largest Pre-Columbian city in the Americas.

Sugiyama has conducted research at the site since the 1980s. From 1998 to 2004, he oversaw excavation of the Pyramid of the Moon, which yielded ceremonially sacrificed human and animal victims and artifacts linking Teotihuacan’s population to the Mayas.  

Sugiyama, an associate research professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is also a professor in the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies at Japan’s Aichi Prefectural University.

Article Source: Fox News Latino
Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

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