Tlatilco Figurines

Tlatilco figurines, c. 1200–600 B.C.E., ceramic, Tlatilco, Mesoamerica (present-day Mexico) (includes examples from the National Museum of Anthropology as well as the Female Figure at the Princeton University Art Museum)

We don’t know what the people here called themselves. Tlatilco, meaning “place of hidden things,” is a Nahuatl word, given to this “culture” later. Around 2000 B.C.E., maize, squash and other crops were domesticated, which allowed people to settle in villages. The settlement of Tlatilco was located close to a lake, and fishing and the hunting of birds became important food sources.

Archaeologists have found more than 340 burials at Tlatilco, with many more destroyed in the first half of the 20th century.

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Cite this page as: Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank and Dr. Steven Zucker, "Tlatilco Figurines," in Smarthistory, December 16, 2015, accessed February 6, 2023,