Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations






Ancient Teotihuacan Civilization

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Sometime around 100 ВС, twenty-eight miles from where today we find Mexico City, construction began on the spectacular city of TeotihuacanSometime around 100 ВС, twenty-eight miles from where today we find Mexico City, construction began on the spectacular city of Teotihuacan. This city was so advanced that it had drainage canals, narrow parallel streets, town squares, temples, and towering pyramids. Temples found here, were decorated with fabu­lous stone sculptures and amazing art fresco paint­ings. The city was extremely well planned. The major thoroughfare, called Avenue of the Dead, di­vided the city in two. It is 2.5 kilometers long. Also, located in the center of the city was the town square or Ciudadela.

The Pyramid of the Sun, in Teotihuacan, is the third largest pyramid in the world. It was constructed around 200AD on top of a series of caves. As legends tells us the people of Teotihuacan believed that these caves were the source of life. Its sister pyramid, the Pyramid of the Moon, was constructed around the year 250AD. Both pyramids were used as tombs.

At its height, Teotihuacan was had a population of between 150,000 to 200.000 people. On the outskirts of the city lived a large rural population that was agriculturally based. These farmers used terracing, and irriga­tion canals to get the most from their fields. Teotihuacan was not a major trading center. However, they did trade extensively with the Zapotec of Oaxaca and the Maya of Guatemala. Teotihuacan was more of a mili­tary state. They directly controlled areas and forced the outside provinces to pay tribute.

The Pyramid of the Moon, in TeotihuacanThe people of Teotihuacan were very religious, and their great ceremonial center was believed to be sacred ground where only high priests could go. Murals throughout the city depict priests in various poses. They also have symbols of their various gods. Their supreme god was called Tloquenahuaque. Possibly, of equal importance was Tlaloc, the god of rain. In addition, they worshiped Chalchiuhtlicue, the goddess of water. Tlaloc and Chalchiuhtlicue would eventually find their way into Aztec religion.

Another god that was extremely popular was the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl was also the focus of the last major monument in the city, leathered Serpent Pyramid is one of the most amazing struc­tures in Teotihuacan. All four of its sides are decorated in elaborate stone carvings, including large sculptural heads. Bodies were buried in all four corners of this pyramid. Quezalcoatl was the supreme god of the Toltecs. Some historians believed that they were very advanced Toltecs influenced Teotihuacan, and subse­quently they conquered Teotihuacan in its declining years.


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