The Empire Of Tututepec

Empire Of Tututepec

Five hundred years ago a great Mixtec empire ruled the Oaxaca coast from its capital in Tututepec. This empire, which was founded by 8 Deer Jaguar Claw in 1083, stretched from Pinotepa Nacional to Tehuantepec and included Nopala and Juquila – an area of 25,000 square kilometers. Archeologists and historians estimate that over 250,000 people lived there when Alvarado’s army of 200 Spaniards aided by thousands of Zapotec soldiers from Tehuantepec conquered Tututepec in 1522.

Although ruled by the Mixtecs, the empire was multi-ethnic, including Amuzgo, Chatino, Zapotec, Chontal and Nahuatl communities with the Chatinos (now mostly occupying the Nopala-Juquila region) being the largest group. The subject populations had to pay tribute to Tututepec (gold, copper, feathers, textiles, cacao, cotton and cochineal) and in some cases provide soldiers and slaves. Tututepec used these products in their trade with the Tenochtitlan Aztecs.

In contrast to the Aztec empire, Tututepec not only collected tribute from its subject populations, but it also administered them. It placed its own governors, administrators and security forces in each community without imposing its language or customs.

Mixtepec weavers
Mixtepec weavers. Photo: Denise Lechner


Ronald Spores (1993), Tututepec. Ancient Mesoamerica 4, pp. 167-174.
Arthur A. Joyce et alia, Tututepec: Un centro imperial del posclásico tardio en la costa oaxaqueña. Estructuras políticas en el Oaxaca antiguo. Instituto Nacional de Atropología e Historia (2004) pp. 205-230.

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