Looking Beyond Gender Hierarchy: Rethinking Gender at Teotihuacan, Mexico



The absence of gender inequality in art and burials at Teotihuacan, Mexico, poses an interesting problem that has been largely ignored by archaeologists. Archaeologists' lack of attention to gender at Teotihuacan perhaps derives from expectations of gender hierarchies in state societies, resulting in misguided conclusions and unexplored alternative interpretations. In this chapter, I ask how eliminating assumptions about gender hierarchies might help us to gain a better understanding of social relations at Teotihuacan. By incorporating multiple lines of evidence including art, burials, and households, I argue that group identity superseded the importance of the individual, foregrounding “house” identity over gender. Social solidarity may have been particularly necessary at Teotihuacan since a large percentage of male and female residents were foreigners. While socially constructed genders may have been an important component of social identity, I suggest that it was largely an unimportant factor in determining social status.