Angular Chronology:
The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America

Review of Michael M. Hobby, June M. Hobby, and Troy J. Smith, Angular Chronology: The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America. Coto Laurel, Puerto Rico: Zarahemla Foundation, 1994. 81 pp. $6.95.


This is a curious publication. Its chronological thesis is misleading and unnecessary for dealing with Mesoamerican archaeology and history, or the archaeology of any part of ancient America.

Let me illustrate my point by quoting from the book: “At Xochicalco is the famous Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl [Figure 41]. This structure is most remarkable, and has long puzzled scholars. A great conference was held between representatives of the Eastern and Western Jaredites at Xochicalco. The Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl commemorates that event” (p. 54, 58). More accurately, we are supposed to believe that the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl at Xochicalco dates back to Jaredite times, i.e., to long before the time of Christ. The authors feel that since most Mesoamerican scholars date this structure in the ninth or tenth centuries A.D., and not back to Jaredite times, something is drastically wrong with the dating techniques used by the scholars. Thus they see the need for their new dating technique, as proposed in Angular Chronology.

In this review I will focus only on the dating of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl and associated monuments at Xochicalco, with cross ties to other documents from ancient Mexico. The table presents most of the pertinent information for dating, but I shall highlight here only a few bits of information that are keys to dating the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl at Xochicalco.

The first major concern is the royal genealogies of the Mixtec people of central and southern Mexico. One of the archaeological monuments found at Xochicalco is the Piedra del Palacio. This monument depicts seven actors and has one calendar round date of 3 Rabbit 2 Quake in the Mixtec Yacunudahui calendar, which was used at this site prior to about 1000 A.D. Five of the seven actors are found in a few Mixtec codices or painted books. These five actors represent a grandfather (male Four Rabbit), his son (male Twelve Iguana), and three grandsons of the grandfather (male Four House, Three Monkey, and Ten Eagle). If one examines royal Mixtec genealogies beginning in the late sixteenth century A.D., one discovers that twenty generations takes one back to the grandfather of this scene. Twenty generations cover approximately 286-600 years. In other words, they date to around 1000 A.D. and not to approximately 1000 B.C., which would be necessary to fit into a Jaredite historical context.

Of the twenty-six actors found on the Xochicalco monuments, eighteen can be cross-referenced to non-Xochicalco sources. The Xochicalco monuments have eleven calendar dates, all between 978-1046 A.D.

I fail to see how anyone can date the Xochicalco Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl back into Jaredite times. The authors of this publication obviously did not check the royal dynastic genealogies relating to Xochicalco and surrounding areas.

Table: Xochicalco Data (Xochitepec/Sweatbath)

1. Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl

Date(s): 9 House 10 Monkey, Saturday, 21 July 1021 A.D., 10 Chuen 14 Keh (Tilantongo calendar).

Actors: forty-four+ including males Nine Wind, Three Reed, Thirteen Rabbit, and female Six Reed.

Cross ties: Nuttall 5-III, 66-I, 66-III.

2. Piedra del Palacio

Date(s): 3 Rabbit 2 Quake, Wednesday, 30 September 978 A.D., 2 Kaban 15 Muwan (Yucunudahui calendar).

Actors: Males Seven Sun (Chicontonatiuh), Four Rabbit, Twelve Iguana Hill Woman. Four House, Three Monkey, Ten Eagle, and Six Feet (Dog).

Cross ties: Nuttall 9-II, III, 20-III, 22; Vienna III-1,2; Baranda I; Bodley 3-I, II, III; 4-II, III, V; 29-III, 34-I; 35; 36-IV; and Anales of Cuauhtitlan paragraphs 6, 10, 18.

3. Stela 1

Date(s): 9 House 6 Quake, either Friday, 9 March 1021 A.D., 6 Kaban 0 Xul or Saturday, 24 November 1021 A.D., 6 Kaban 0 Wayeb. 13 Rabbit 5 Reed, Friday 3 August 1038 A.D., 5 Ben 11 Mak. 13 Rabbit 4 House, Thursday 1 November 1038 A.D., 4 Akbal 1 Kumk’u (all dates in Tilantongo calendar).

Actors: Males Seven Wind, Four Caiman, Nine Rabbit, Five Reed, and Seven Rabbit (Seven Rabbit came from Tula, Hidalgo, and conquered Xochitepec/Xochicalco).

Cross ties: Lienzo de Xochitepec, Anales of Cuauhtitlan paragraph 11, and Nuttall 21-II.

4. Stela 3

Date(s): 2 Reed 2 Reed, Wednesday, 1 August 1027 A.D. 2 Ben 6 Mac (New Year: Tilantongo calendar, see same date in Nuttall 5c). 9 House 12 Reed, 12 Ben 16 Keh. Nuttall 5b has the date of 9 House 1 Eagle, which is two days later.

Actors: Males Four Quake, Four Caiman, Ten Reed, Thirteen Reed, Five Dog (feet), Three Reed, and female Nine Monkey. Five Dog’s son, One Iguana, is the first Lord of Tula, Hidalgo in the Early Postclassic.

Cross ties: Bodley 11-V and Nuttall 3-I, 4-III, 6-III, 9-II, III, 10-I, II.

5. Stela 2

Date(s): 7 House 13 Reed, Friday, 14 November 1045 A.D., 13 Ben 16 Kumk’u. 7 House 8 Reed, Tuesday, 13 January 1046 A.D., 10.10.18. 17.13 8 Ben 11 Sip (both dates in the Tilantongo calendar).

Actors: Males Seven Rain, Nine Flint, Thirteen Flint, Eight Reed, Six Flint (son of Four Quake of Xochitepec), and female Two Death.

Cross ties: Bodley 11-V and Mapa de Xochitepec.

6. New Fire Relief Rock

Date(s): 1 Rabbit 2 Deer, Sunday, 25 November 1038 A.D., 2 Manik 0 Pop (New Year of Tikal calendar). First New Fire and associated with the Pleiades at the zenith of the sky. This date is in the Aztec calendar which probably originated Tuesday 31 May 1036 A.D., 4 Kawak 7 Yax.

Actors: None on the relief.

Cross ties: The Mixcoatl legend.