The Tarascan Empire

Helen Pearlstein Pollard

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Tarascan Empire

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In the vast region of western Mexico, social complexity first emerged during the Late Preclassic and Classic periods in the Teuchitlán cultural tradition of Jalisco. But it was during the Postclassic period that unequivocal states and a powerful empire appeared; this was the Tarascan Empire, the most complex polity known to us from western Mexico and a significant enemy of the contemporaneous Aztec Empire. During the Late Postclassic period the Tarascan Empire was the second largest in Mesoamerica (more than 75,000 square kilometers) and was ethnically dominated by a population the Spaniards called Tarascos, who spoke a language known as Tarasco, or Purépecha. This article discusses Tarascan archaeology and ethnohistory, cultural roots of the Tarascan Empire, and the Tarascan state and empire.

Keywords: complex societies; Postclassic period; Tarascan Empire; Tarascos

Article.  5936 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; Historical Archaeology

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