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 Culture & Traditions

Mexican pre-Columbian Cultures


Teotihuacan Civilization

 

To ancient Mexicans, Teotihuacan was a holy city. Located a 40 miles northeast of Mexico City, it was the birthplace of the fifth sun. “The world had been destroyed four times. To bring forth the rise of a new sun the gods gathered at Teotihuacan.   

 Teotihuacan pyramids.

They performed sacrifices and life returned to earth: the fifth sun was born.

 

Teotihuacan became the most important city of ancient Mexico from 300 B.C. to 900 A.D., approximately. During this period, the Teotihuacan Empire exerted its influence upon many regions in Mesoamerica.

Its architecture displayed monumental characteristics.

 

The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon supported temples dedicated to a particular deity.         The city exudes an atmosphere of peace and greatness.       

 

The ceremonial center was planned along a North -South axis, known as Avenue of the Dead, on both sides of which, the palaces where the higher class lived and the temples for their religious ceremonies were built.       

 

A thousand years later, Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital was built after the Teotihuacan model.        

 

The urban center had a sewer system, which demonstrates their knowledge of city planning.        

 

Each residential complex was made up of many rooms and interior courtyards.       

 

Quetzalcoatl Temple

The Quetzalcoatl Temple shows the extent of their remarkable artistic talent. It is beautifully decorated with conch shells, plumes, and serpents.

 

They decorated their temples and the palaces of priests and noblemen with frescoes and mural paintings of religious themes.

 

The Teotihuacan were great merchants and they extended their trading as far as the Gulf of Mexico and Oaxaca.        

 

Obsidian articles and pottery were some of their most important commercial products.      

 

Pottery was handmade, but it was also mass-produced for trading using molds.       

 

Teotihuacan was mysteriously abandoned due in part, to a great fire that might have been caused by a conquest or by barbarians from the north.

 

 

When the Aztecs went by this area, they were so impressed with its greatness that they called it Teotihuacan, which means The Place where Men become Gods.

 

When the Teotihuacan Empire began its decline, some northern tribes, probably culturally inferior to them, arrived in Mesoamerica.           

These groups mixed with the Teotihuacan. From this assimilation, a new race was born the Toltec, word that means skilled laborer, artist, wise man.

Toltec Culture (next page)


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