Teotihuacan - "Place of the Gods"

Teotihuacan 200 B.C.- 400 A.D. The name Teotihuacan means "place of the gods" and was given by the later Mexica (Aztec), as it was believed to be where the current cycle of time began. Teotihuacan is recognized not only as the remains of an impressive pre-Columbian civilization, but also as the earliest city in the New World and the largest city ever to develop in ancient Mesoamerica.

 The city covered about 8 square miles (20 sq. km) and had a population of 125,000 to 200,000, making it among the largest cities of the world. The city was arrayed on an enormous grid plan and centered on the largest pyramidal structure ever to be constructed in pre-Columbian America. Completed between A.D. 100 and 200, the Temple of the Sun was an immense stone-faced rubble-cored pyramid greater in volume ( 1,175,000 cubic meters) than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. This urban giant was the center of a powerful political-religious center that dominated the politics and economy of the basin of Mexico and had long-distance commercial and political ties throughout Mesoamerica. The city was supported by a system of intensive agriculture including terraces and irrigation canals. The population of Teotihuacan was housed in large apartment complexes that covered a densely built-up area of more than 7.5 square miles(20 sq. km) and housed many foreign colonies of merchants and craftsmen. 350 obsidian workshops dispersed across the city chipped the immense numbers of dart and spear points and the sharp blades for war clubs that were in unquenchable demand everywhere. This monopoly on obsidian and the city's position as the most powerful religious shrine in central Mexico drew power and wealth there like a magnet.

Around 150 A.D. the focus of religious activity shifted just south of the Pyramid of the Sun with the bulding of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and its vast Ciudadela complex of temples, palaces, and granaries. On this Temple, four-ton figures of the goggle-eyed Storm god, Tlaloc, and the Feathered Serpent alternate in ascending bands up the structure. It was in theis center that the cult of sacred-war-and-sacrifice associated with the Feathered Serpent deity Quetzalcoatl, the Storm God Tlaloc, and the planet Venus and its cyclical motions, was born. This complex religious cult revolutionized warfare in Mesoamerica, introducing the concept of conquest for territory and the taking of captives for sacrifice that was to be embraced by future Mesoamerican societies.

Teotihuacan had a distictive art style visible in architecture, murals, ceramic artifacts, figurines, and stone masks which influenced other cultures in Mesoamerica. The power of the city apparently ended about 750 A.D. when the central part of the city was destroyed by fire. Perhaps a long era of repeated droughts, which occur with frequency in the Valley of Mexico, lowered the flow of the underground springs around Teotihuacan. In the wake of these droughts. Teotihuacan's military power and population fell, making the city vulnerable to repeated attacks from northern barbarians who eventually devastated Teotihuacan by invasion.

During the three hundred years that followed the collapse of Teotihuacan, bands of northern nomads continued to enter the Valley of Mexico in succesive waves. In the late tenth century, one of these tribes established itself just north of the valley in the Basin of Tula. Some of its members may have been descendants of the hordes who participated in the sacking of Teotihuacan. Others may have included distant offspring of the Teotihuacanos themselves. Whatever its true origins, the tribe came to be known as the Toltecs, meaning "Builders" in the Nahua language spoken by most of the inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico. In Tula, the Toltecs built a city-state clearly inspired by Teotihuacan's monumental archictecture.

Written by Indio



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