Research ArticleECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY

Settlement scaling and increasing returns in an ancient society

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 1, e1400066
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400066
  • Fig. 1 The BOM.

    (A) Location within Mexico. (B) Settlements dating to the Formative period (outline shows surveyed area; circle size is proportional to population; colors denote elevation; gray area shows the extent of Mexico City in 1964). Today, settlement covers the entire basin, and the lake has been drained. See the Supplementary Materials for imagery sources.

  • Fig. 2 Super-linear scaling of socioeconomic rates with population.

    (A) Political unit population versus public monument construction rates. (B) Settlement population versus total domestic mound area. Symbols denote time periods, solid lines show power law fits from ordinary least-squares (OLS) regression of the log-transformed data, and dashed lines represent proportionate (linear) scaling. Inset shows the independence of average G on N, where G = A/N * (mean domestic mound area) (see also Table 2).

  • Fig. 3 Histograms of domestic-mound areas.

    (A) Distribution of log-transformed domestic mound areas across all sites. (B) Distribution of residuals from OLS regression of log [settlement population] versus log [mean house area]. Note that both distributions are approximately normal [Kolmogorov-Smirnov (Lilliefors) test results are P < 0.001 for (A) and P = 0.2 for (B)].

  • Table 1 Population-area scaling analysis results.

    The yields (kg/maize per hectare) of the most productive agricultural strategies for the pre-Hispanic periods are as follows: Formative, 700; Classic and Toltec, 1400; and Aztec, 3000 (28). CI, confidence interval.

    GroupSitesa (ha)95% CIα95% CIr2
    Formative (1150 BCE to 150 CE)2300.1950.160–0.2380.7110.673–0.7490.855
    Classic (150–650 CE)2720.2210.174–0.2790.6320.583–0.6810.707
    Toltec (650–1200 CE)4840.2100.180–0.2440.7180.684–0.7530.777
    Aztec (1200–1520 CE)5460.1770.156–0.2010.7640.734–0.7930.830
    1960 Census1810.4450.250–0.9450.6410.0.552–0.7290.532
    Amorphous (n < 5000)15100.237217–0.2590.6710.0.651–0.6910.741
    Networked (n ≥ 5000)220.1090.009–1.3030.8530.598–0.1.1090.709
  • Table 2 Estimated scaling parameters for socioeconomic outputs with population.

    For the first analysis, the independent variable is the population of the political unit; for all others, the independent variable is the settlement population.

    Dependent variableSamplePrefactor95% CIExponent95% CIr2
    Civic mound volume/year48Y0 = 0.00210.0006–0.00701 + δ = 1.1771.028–1.3270.852
    Domestic-mound area (m)80y0 = 168.693.3–304.8δ = 0.1900.083–0.2980.863
    Y = m * N80Y0 = 168.693.3–304.81 + δ = 1.1901.083–1.2980.863
    G = m * A/N80G0 = 28.7112.88–63.97γ = 0.037−0.108 to 0.1820.003

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/ content/full/1/1/e1400066/DC1

    Materials and Methods

    Fig. S1. The Basin of Mexico.

    Table S1. Civic-ceremonial structures at Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco.

    Table S2. Civic-ceremonial architecture volumes and associated subject populations.

    Table S3. Mean domestic-mound areas and settlement populations.

    Table S4. Domestic mound area distributions in the Basin of Mexico through time.

    Table S5. Within-period scaling analyses.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Materials and Methods
    • Fig. S1. The Basin of Mexico.
    • Table S1. Civic-ceremonial structures at Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco.
    • Table S2. Civic-ceremonial architecture volumes and associated subject populations.
    • Table S3. Mean domestic-mound areas and settlement populations.
    • Table S4. Domestic mound area distributions in the Basin of Mexico through time.
    • Table S5. Within-period scaling analyses.

    Download PDF

    Files in this Data Supplement:

Navigate This Article