News about model of ancient Teotihuacan

A news report based on an interview I gave to Ciencia UNAM has been published on their web portal:

Santillán, M. L. (Feb. 23, 2015). Modelo matemático revela la organización política de Teotihuacán. Ciencia UNAM. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Retrieved from

It describes the social network model we made about the collective government of ancient Teotihuacan, Mexico.



  1. February 24, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Dear Tom:

    Thanks for your contributions to the undersatnding of our country history.

    I would like to share with you something more recent than Teotihuacan, and with more information, where you would possible apply your model.

    It is in relation to the Tlaxcalan people, a small, but fearceful group that was never defeated by their larger neighbors and archenemies, the Mexicas.

    At the arrival of the spaniards, the Tlaxcalans were under siege by the Mexicas, that don´t even let pass the salt for their meals.

    It happened that, Cortés the great strategist, realized this situation, and with a great show of force (The “Matanza” of the neighboring city of Cholula) and with clever negotiations was able to get the help of the Tlaxcalans, and this was the key for the defeat of the Mexicas.

    I think that the secret of the survival of the small Tlaxcalan people, was its government: There was no King or central power, all decisions were taken by agreement of the Señores of the 8 main Tlaxacalan Towns.

    Also I think that this type of shared power was the factor that influenced the most their alliance with the spaniards.

    This alliance was very strong, and without it, the spaniards would have been sacrifized in a few weeks.

    Because the Tlaxcalan were the winners, their history is very well documented, and surely will provide more and better data to probe your model.

    Best regards,

    Eugenio Ledezma

    • Tom Froese said,

      February 25, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Dear Eugenio,

      Many thanks for your detailed comments. Your suggestion is very welcome because we indeed have the problem that there is a lack of historical data regarding the political organization of Teotihuacan.

      So it is useful to know that there was a collective government in Tlaxcala, perhaps even more collective than at Teotihuacan (8 co-rulers instead of 4). This could be an interesting future project.

      You might also be interested to know that we are currently looking at the social organization of some indigenous communities, like the Huichol and the Otomi, because they are also very distributed.

      As a contrastive case, we are also planning to model the centralized polities of the Maya.

      In all of these cases we will have a richer set of archaeological and ethnographic data to draw on in order to improve the realism of our models and to better test our predictions.

      All the best,

      • February 26, 2015 at 9:40 pm


        Let me tell you about a real and alive, consensus indigenous government in Sonora State, where my family lives.

        It is about the Yaqui Nation. This ethnic group maybe the only alive native american people, that has never completely surrendered, not even to the spanish conquistadores nor the Mexican Government.

        It happens that the state of Sonora is the only state in México with 9 governors: The constitutional Governor and the 8 Yaqui Governors.
        They have their own towns, with mostly all residents being Yaqui. And if any authority, civil, federal police or Mexican military, wishes to visit them, they have to get a permision in advance.

        A good introductory description of the Yaqui is in Wiki:

        The Yaquis live in 8 towns with their own local Governor, and when needed, the 8 governors meet in a council to adopt decisions that afect the whole nation.

        Although they have managed to have a larger degree of independence, and have achieved a certain economic level, greater than most of the other indian nations in México, They still haven´t got the development that they deserve, and in many ways they are managed by the rich land owners of the region.

        Any way, theirs is a very unique system of communitary government that may serve for your mathematical model.

        Best Regards….

        Eugene Ledezma

    • Tom Froese said,

      February 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks Eugenio! I’ve heard about the Yaqui before, but I was not aware of their collective mode of government. That sounds like a very suitable target for our model.

      If there are any anthropologists working with the Yaqui who are interested in collaborating on a model of their social and ritual organization, I’d be interested to hear from them.

      All the best.

  2. Tom Froese said,

    March 3, 2015 at 11:13 am

    The news story has been picked up by a national newspaper:

    Matemáticas apoyan la existencia de un co-gobierno en Teotihuacan (2015, March 3). El Universal. Mexico. Retrieved from

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