Cantona (archaeological zone)

Cantona . Ancient Mesoamerican city, today an archaeological zone, located in the Mexican state of Puebla , Mexico .


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  • 1 Origin of the name
  • 2 History
  • 3 Description of the city
    • 1 Urban conformation
  • 4 Importance
  • 5 Related Links
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Sources

Name’s origin

Among the first impressions recorded on the site, we find those published in 1790 in the Gacetas de Alzate, where the name of Cantona is referred to, and it was not until 1855 that Henri de Saussure visited the area and stated that: « The Indians of the environs they call to him the city of or of the Canton ». For his part, in 1903 Nicolás León published a text entitled ” The Archaeological Monuments in Cantona ” where he mentions that the real name of the site is Caltonac , a word from the Nahua words calli = house and tonalli = sun, that is, ” house of the Sun», But there is no document or scientific reference whatsoever that indicates that it was so called in antiquity, so it is preferable to name it as it was designated since 1790 : Cantona.


Around 900 BC, the first sedentary human groups arrived in the northern region of the Oriental Basin , Puebla. They settled on a stony and hostile terrain -product of a volcanic lava spill-, but which offered abundant natural resources for their development. However, the geographic position represented control of an established trade passage between the Central Highlands and the Gulf Coast .

Description of the city

It covered some 1,450 hectares with a population of 93,000 inhabitants between 600 and 900 AD It reached its cultural peak between 300 BC and 600 AD and, by 150-200 AD, in addition to covering some 867 hectares and having around 52 thousand inhabitants, it had 20 courts for the Ball Game . Its decline occurred between AD 1000 and 1050, presumably due to internal conflicts.

Urban conformation

It distinguished itself from other urban centers in Mesoamerica for its complex and efficient network of circulation routes; It is estimated that around 4 thousand streets built to communicate the population with each other, as well as roads that led to fields, quarries, deposits and to other towns. The ancient city also stood out for its asymmetric architecture that was due to the unevenness of the terrain. This condition determined the distribution of the civic-religious, residential and defensive ensembles, resulting in great visual and spatial harmony. The housing units were located on raised platforms and enclosed by peripheral walls.


Cantona: archaeological zone

Another characteristic feature of its architecture was the lack of cement to join the buildings. No stucco or mud was used on the external surfaces. They decorated the facades making use of the natural color and texture of the stones. They used bluish and silver-toned basalt for fillings and walls; the red tezontle faced for covering the slopes and the main structures in general; the white quarry or volcanic tuff for steps, floors and corridors of the pyramids , in addition to the basements of elite rooms and white limestone for ceremonial elements such as burial or offering markers, ball game discs and altars.


Among the most important but least known archaeological zones of the central Altiplano is that of Cantona. The presence and exploitation of obsidian deposits in the vicinity also offered the possibility of exponential progress in commercial, social, technological and urban terms. The Cantonese had the power to transform the rugged natural environment into urban with such success that the city became one of the most important in ancient Mexico.

Cantona, seventeen years after being opened to the public, has only just begun its growth process once it has managed to consolidate the infrastructure necessary for its launch (highways, electricity, water supply, greater security and quality of service, among others. ); Cantona will continue to be a primary factor in the socioeconomic development, not only of the region but of the State of Puebla.


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