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The Ireta: a model of political and spatial organization of P'urépecha cities




Urquhart, Kyle Ryan, author
Fisher, Chris, advisor
Leisz, Stephen, committee member
Carlyon, Jonathan, committee member

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This thesis uses the published historical literature to build a theoretical model of the political organization of P’urépecha cities. Ancient P’urépecha cities were the urban component of a larger polity known as an Ireta. These were territorial polities that were similar to the Aztec altepetl, and might be considered analogous to a “city-state.” Each Ireta could be divided into a series of nested territorial units. Larger units, the uapátzequecha, consisted of neighborhoods within cities and towns or villages in the countryside. Beneath these were smaller groupings of households that formed the basis of the ocámbecha tax system used by the Kingdom of Tzintzuntzan, the empire which dominated the region during the Late Postclassic Period (c. 1350 – 1530 AD). Small architectural complexes (complejos) at the archaeological site of Angamuco, Michoacan, Mexico approximately match the size of the unit that the ocámbecha administered. This study maps these units using Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA). The results of this modeling produce a map of complejos that approximately matches hypothesized territorial divisions at the site. While more research is needed, the current evidence suggests that the territorial divisions which formed the basis of the ocámbecha tax system may predate the Late Postclassic empire. This could indicate that the empire simply co-opted existing territorial divisions for tax collection rather than creating new ones.


Includes bibliographical references.
2015 Summer.

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urban layout


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