Laying in the Valley of Mexico, actually in a “sub-valley,” lays a magnificent splendor known as Teotihuacan. It’s zenith may have been in the First Millennium AD with a population of perhaps 125,000 people or more. That would have made it the 6th largest city in the world at that time. Wonderful Mesoamerican pyramids can be found at this site including the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. But there is also the just as magnificent Avenue of the Dead and multi-family residences along with vibrant murals of the utmost quality. The city seems to have also been an export center for obsidian stone tools of fine quality. This site is absolutely beautiful and intriguing to say the least.
It is believed that this city was built somewhere around 100 BC and it may have been lived in up to the 7th or 8th centuries AD. It also appears that its major monuments were sacked and systematically burned in about 550 AD.
We used to think that this magnificent city was built by the Toltecs but it existed before the Toltecs. The Florentine Codex identifies the builders as the Toltecs but that culture flourished centuries (900-1168 CE) before the city so most researchers today no longer believe its builders were the Toltec. By the time the Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico, Teotihuacan was already in ruins and burned. Archaeologists now refer to the city’s builders simply as the “Teotihuacano.”
We don’t know who built this city nor do we know who systematically set it on fire. It’s been speculated the Teotihuacan was inhabited by the Nahua, Otomi, to Totonac ethnic groups but, fact is, we don’t know.
The Aztecs used the term “Toltec” to refer to “craftsmen of the highest degree” so that may be why the Floreentine Codex and others say the city was built by the Toltec, thus, referring to highly skilled craftsmen and not to the Toltec culture itself.
Some researchers believe that an enormous eruption of the Xitle Volcano may have caused a mass exodus from the central valley of Mexico and into the Teotihuacan Valley. They believe these people built the city or, at least, caused its massive growth. But, again we don’t know for sure!
Still other researchers believe that Teotihuacan was built by a people known as the Totonac. There is evidence that some of the people who lived in the city came from other areas including the Mixtec, Maya, and Zapotec people. But, where they the builders?
Teotihuacan employed canals used for irrigation and canoe traffic to transport food from nearby farmers into the city. Ironically, such canals are also found in the areas of the Hohokam (aka: northern Toltec) in Arizona!
Teotihuacan is known as the “City of the Gods” and as the “City Where Men Became Gods.”
In 610 AD the entire population of Teotihuacan vanished suddenly with no trace found by archaeologists. They did not use the wheel or horses. It was NOT an Aztec nor Toltec city contrary to popular opinion. Did they the Hohokam (northern Toltecs) in Arizona?
Some interesting facts about the city include: 1) it was one of the largest cities in the ancient world with over 150K people, 2) it houses some of teh largest buildings ever erected in the New World, 3) in a way the layout of the city resembles a computer circuit board with 2 large processor chips (Sun and Moon pyramids), 4) The Sun Pyramid in Teotihuacan and the Khufu Pyramid in Egypt have the same base of almost 750 feet square, 5) The Sun pyramid is exactly half as tall as the Gize Pyramids and the Sun Temple, Moon Temple, and Quetzalcoatl Temple, 6) Large quantities of Mica have been found at Teotihuacan but this mineral is found 3000 miles away in Brazil and yet mica is found in almost every single building in the city, 7) Mica was known to the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Greeks, Romans, And Chinese as well as to the Aztecs, 8) Mica is stable when exposed to electricity, light, moisture, and extreme temps and it has superior electrical properties as an insulator and dielectric. It can support an electrostatic field, 9) hundreds of mysterious and once metallic spheres buried deep beneath an ancient pyramid in Mexico City have been found by archaeologists yet we have no idea what they were for, 10) Between 600-700 AD the city was abruptly abandoned and we don’t know why, 11) no depiction of a ruler or a tomb of a ruler has ever been found in he city, 12) along the Avenue of the Dead the pyramids align in perfect distance of each of the orbit’s of our planets in our solar system, 13) Immigrants are believed to have lived in the city and they are suspected of being Mayans and Zapotecs as their texts have been found in the city.
Researchers found a 1600 year old elongated skull near Teotihuacan in 2016. It is a skull of a woman. She is thought to have died between ages 35-40.
So who built Teotihuacan? It predates the Toltec so might it have been forerunners of the Toltec? A people we don’t even know about yet? Good possibility.
Two images compared of Teotihuacan. On the left are the ruins as they appear today. On the right the plaza is filled with water which some people think was highly likely.
Some researchers believe the city was built around the worship of water! The city was destroyed by fire and looting possibly due to civil war or enemy invasion. The people of Teotihuacan had no complex form of writing. Also, there is a significant lack of artifacts in the ruins.
The Aztecs found the ruins in the 1300s and gave the city its name “Teotihuacan” which in the Nahuatl language means “the place where men become gods.” The Aztecs linked the two great pyramids in the ity (temple of the sun and the moon) to their own creation myth but they may have got the story wrong claim some archaeologists.
Canals and pool-like cavities have been found beneath the square alongside statues of water gods. Archaeologist Veronica Ortega believes the whole city was a center for the worship of a water god or gods. Her theory has support in some finds made in the city. For example, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Plumed Serpent contain aquatic elements that include seashells and water pitchers!
Most of the people likely were farmers in the semi-arid climate even though 8 months out of the year were likely dry. Ortega believes when the rainy seaon came the people collected rainwater in the canals and wells to store for irrigation in dry seasons. Ortega found 4 canals running from the Temple of the Moon. She concludes that worship of water including lakes, flooding, and heavy rain played a central role in the construction of the city. She believes also that the Pyramid of the Moon was a temple to the goddess of rivers and lakes and the temple of the Sun is a temple to the storm god Tlaloc.
Ortega points to evidence found in a mural inside a palace in the city. This mural depicts streams of water flowing from a pyramid-like structure and painted in red and blue is an image of Tlalocan which was the mythical paradise ruled by the god Tlaloc. Other researchers do not agree with her theories.
Below are some old photos of Teotihuacan———–