City size in Late Postclassic Mesoamerica

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48 Scopus citations


This article assembles archaeological and documentary evidence on the sizes of cities in Mesoamerica on the eve of Spanish conquest. Out of several hundred documented Late Postclassic urban centers, eighty-seven have reliable archaeological data on the area of the total city and/or the area of the central administrative zone (called the epicenter). The median urban area is 90 hectares (ha), and the median epicenter is 2.0 ha. These data are analyzed in terms of geographical zone, political type, population size and density, and rank-size distributions. The results suggest that political and administrative factors were the primary determinants of city size, with geographical zone having only a minor influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-434
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Urban History
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaeology
  • City size
  • Mesoamerica
  • Rank size
  • Urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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