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Nahuatl scholar Thelma D. Sullivan interprets the name as "place of those who have the road of the gods. The name is pronounced [te. By normal Nahuatl orthographic conventions, a written accent would not appear in that position. The original name of the city is unknown, but it appears in hieroglyphic texts from the Maya region as puh , or "Place of Reeds".

This naming convention led to much confusion in the early 20th century, as scholars debated whether Teotihuacan or Tula-Hidalgo was the Tollan described by 16th-century chronicles. It now seems clear that Tollan may be understood as a generic Nahua term applied to any large settlement. In the Mesoamerican concept of urbanism, Tollan and other language equivalents serve as a metaphor , linking the bundles of reeds and rushes that formed part of the lacustrine environment of the Valley of Mexico and the large gathering of people in a city.

The early history of Teotihuacan is quite mysterious and the origin of its founders is uncertain. Around BCE, people of the central and southeastern area of Mesoamerica began to gather into larger settlements. For many years, archaeologists believed it was built by the Toltec. This belief was based on colonial period texts, such as the Florentine Codex , which attributed the site to the Toltecs. However, the Nahuatl word "Toltec" generally means "craftsman of the highest level" and may not always refer to the Toltec civilization centered at Tula, Hidalgo.

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Since Toltec civilization flourished centuries after Teotihuacan, the people could not have been the city's founders. In the Late Formative era, a number of urban centers arose in central Mexico. The most prominent of these appears to have been Cuicuilco , on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco. Scholars have speculated that the eruption of the Xitle volcano may have prompted a mass emigration out of the central valley and into the Teotihuacan valley. These settlers may have founded or accelerated the growth of Teotihuacan.

Other scholars have put forth the Totonac people as the founders of Teotihuacan. There is evidence that at least some of the people living in Teotihuacan immigrated from those areas influenced by the Teotihuacano civilization, including the Zapotec , Mixtec , and Maya peoples. The builders of Teotihuacan took advantage of the geography in the Basin of Mexico.

From the swampy ground, they constructed raised beds, called chinampas, creating high agricultural productivity despite old methods of cultivation. The earliest buildings at Teotihuacan date to about BCE. The largest pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun , was completed by CE. In January , while Spearthrower Owl supposedly ruled in Teotihuacan, the warlord Siyah K'ak' "conquered" Tikal , removing and replacing the Maya king, with support from El Peru and Naachtun , as recorded by Stela 31 at Tikal and other monuments in the Maya region.

In a group of Teotihuacanos organized a coup d'etat in Tikal, Guatemala. This was not the Teotihuacan state; it was a group of the Feathered-Serpent people, thrown out from the city. The Feathered-Serpent Pyramid was burnt, all the sculptures were torn from the temple, and another platform was built to efface the facade The Dynasty went on to have sixteen rulers. The city reached its peak in CE, when it was the center of a powerful culture whose influence extended through much of the Mesoamerican region. Notably absent from the city are fortifications and military structures.

The nature of political and cultural interactions between Teotihuacan and the centers of the Maya region as well as elsewhere in Mesoamerica has been a long-standing and significant area for debate. Substantial exchange and interaction occurred over the centuries from the Terminal Preclassic to the Mid-Classic period. Some believe that it had direct and militaristic dominance; others that adoption of "foreign" traits was part of a selective, conscious, and bi-directional cultural diffusion. New discoveries have suggested that Teotihuacan was not much different in its interactions with other centers from the later empires, such as the Toltec and Aztec.

Architectural styles prominent at Teotihuacan are found widely dispersed at a number of distant Mesoamerican sites, which some researchers have interpreted as evidence for Teotihuacan's far-reaching interactions and political or militaristic dominance. The talud-tablero style disseminated through Mesoamerica generally from the end of the Preclassic period, and not specifically, or solely, via Teotihuacano influence.

It is unclear how or from where the style spread into the Maya region. During the zenith main structures of the site, including the pyramids, were painted in dark-red maroon to Burgundy colors only small spots remain now and were a very impressionable view. The city was a center of industry, home to many potters, jewelers, and craftsmen. Teotihuacan is known for producing a great number of obsidian artifacts. No ancient Teotihuacano non- ideographic texts are known to exist or known to have existed. Inscriptions from Maya cities show that Teotihuacan nobility traveled to, and perhaps conquered, local rulers as far away as Honduras.

Maya inscriptions note an individual nicknamed by scholars as " Spearthrower Owl ", apparently ruler of Teotihuacan, who reigned for over 60 years and installed his relatives as rulers of Tikal and Uaxactun in Guatemala. Scholars have based interpretations about the culture at Teotihuacan on archaeology, the murals that adorn the site and others, like the Wagner Murals , found in private collections , and hieroglyphic inscriptions made by the Maya describing their encounters with Teotihuacano conquerors. The creation of murals, perhaps tens of thousands of murals, reached its height between and The artistry of the painters was unrivaled in Mesoamerica and has been compared with that of painters in Renaissance Florence, Italy.

Scholars had thought that invaders attacked the city in the 7th or 8th century, sacking and burning it. More recent evidence, however, seems to indicate that the burning was limited to the structures and dwellings associated primarily with the ruling class. They say the invasion theory is flawed, because early archaeological work on the city was focused exclusively on the palaces and temples, places used by the upper classes. Because all of these sites showed burning, archaeologists concluded that the whole city was burned. Instead, it is now known that the destruction was centered on major civic structures along the Avenue of the Dead.

The sculptures inside palatial structures, such as Xalla, were shattered. Evidence for population decline beginning around the 6th century lends some support to the internal unrest hypothesis. The decline of Teotihuacan has been correlated to lengthy droughts related to the climate changes of — This theory of ecological decline is supported by archaeological remains that show a rise in the percentage of juvenile skeletons with evidence of malnutrition during the 6th century, which is why there is different evidence that helps indicate that famine is most likely one of the more possible reasons for the decline of Teotihuacan.

The majority of their food came from agriculture: They grew things such as maize, beans, amaranth, green tomatoes tomatillos? They may have aligned themselves against Teotihuacan to reduce its influence and power. The art and architecture at these sites emulate Teotihuacan forms, but also demonstrate an eclectic mix of motifs and iconography from other parts of Mesoamerica, particularly the Maya region. The sudden destruction of Teotihuacan was common for Mesoamerican city-states of the Classic and Epi-Classic period. Many Maya states suffered similar fates in the coming centuries, a series of events often referred to as the Classic Maya collapse.

Nearby, in the Morelos valley, Xochicalco was sacked and burned in and Tula met a similar fate around There is a theory [32] that the collapse of Teotihuacan was caused by its agriculture being devastated by the CE eruption of the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador. Archaeological evidence suggests that Teotihuacan was a multi-ethnic city, with distinct quarters occupied by Otomi , Zapotec , Mixtec , Maya , and Nahua peoples.

In , Terrence Kaufman presented linguistic evidence suggesting that an important ethnic group in Teotihuacan was of Totonacan or Mixe—Zoquean linguistic affiliation. Other scholars maintain that the largest population group must have been of Otomi ethnicity, because the Otomi language is known to have been spoken in the area around Teotihuacan both before and after the Classic period and not during the middle period.

Esther Pasztory adds one more: [40]. The consensus among scholars is that the primary deity of Teotihuacan was the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan. Politics were based on the state religion; religious leaders were the political leaders. The artwork likely commissioned would have been a mural or a censer depicting gods like the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan or the Feathered Serpent. Censers would be lit during religious rituals to invoke the gods including rituals with human sacrifice.

Teotihuacanos practiced human sacrifice : human bodies and animal sacrifices have been found during excavations of the pyramids at Teotihuacan. Scholars believe that the people offered human sacrifices as part of a dedication when buildings were expanded or constructed.

The victims were probably enemy warriors captured in battle and brought to the city for ritual sacrifice to ensure the city could prosper. Animals that were considered sacred and represented mythical powers and military were also buried alive, imprisoned in cages: cougars, a wolf, eagles, a falcon, an owl, and even venomous snakes. Numerous stone masks have been found at Teotihuacan, and have been generally believed to have been used during a funerary context, [46] although some scholars call this into question, noting that masks "do not seem to have come from burials".

Teotihuacan was a mix of residential and work areas. Upper-class homes were usually compounds that housed many such families, and one compound was found that was capable of housing between sixty and eighty families. Such superior residences were typically made of plaster, each wall in every section elaborately decorated with murals. These compounds or apartment complexes were typically found within the city center.

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The vast lakes of the Basin of Mexico provided the opportunity for people living around them to construct productive raised beds, or chinampas, from swampy muck, construction that also produced channels between the beds. Different sections of the city housed particular ethnic groups and immigrants. Typically, multiple languages were spoken in these sections of the city.

Knowledge of the huge ruins of Teotihuacan was never completely lost. After the fall of the city, various squatters lived on the site. During Aztec times, the city was a place of pilgrimage and identified with the myth of Tollan, the place where the sun was created. Today, Teotihuacan is one of the most noted archaeological attractions in Mexico. The Pyramid of the Sun was restored to celebrate the centennial of the Mexican War of Independence in The site of Teotihuacan was the first to be expropriated for the national patrimony under the Law of Monuments , giving jurisdiction under legislation for the Mexican state to take control.

Some plots were farmed on the site. Peasants who had been farming portions were ordered to leave and the Mexican government eventually paid some compensation to those individuals. Further excavations at the Ciudadela were carried out in the s, supervised by Manuel Gamio. Other sections of the site were excavated in the s and s. The first site-wide project of restoration and excavation was carried out by INAH from to , supervised by Jorge Acosta.

This undertaking had the goals of clearing the Avenue of the Dead, consolidating the structures facing it, and excavating the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl. During the installation of a "sound and light" show in , workers discovered the entrance to a tunnel and cave system underneath the Pyramid of the Sun. In , another major program of excavation and restoration was carried out at the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent and the Avenue of the Dead complex. Most recently, a series of excavations at the Pyramid of the Moon have greatly expanded evidence of cultural practices.

At the bottom he came to rest in apparently ancient construction — a man-made tunnel, blocked in both directions by immense stones. He decided initially to elaborate clear hypothesis and to obtain approval. Researchers reported that the tunnel was believed to have been sealed in CE.

Preliminary planning of the exploration and fundraising took more than six years. Before the start of excavations, beginning in the early months of , Dr. Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera , from UNAM Institute of Geophysics, determined with the help of ground-penetrating radar GPR and a team of some 20 archaeologists and workers the approximate length of the tunnel and the presence of internal chambers. By , the digital map was complete.

The archaeologists explored the tunnel with a remote-controlled robot called Tlaloc II-TC , equipped with an infrared camera and a laser scanner that generates 3D visualization to perform three dimensional register of the spaces beneath the temple. A small opening in the tunnel wall was made and the scanner captured the first images, 37 meters into the passage.

Trujillo, Peru: Visiting the Temple of the Sun & the Moon

By the end of archaeologists of the INAH located the entrance to the tunnel that leads to galleries under the pyramid, where rests of rulers of the ancient city might have been deposited. The INAH team, consisted of about 30 persons supported with national and international advisors at the highest scientific levels, intended to enter the tunnel in September—October This excavation, the deepest made at the Pre-Hispanic site, was part of the commemorations of the th anniversary of archaeological excavations at Teotihuacan and its opening to the public.

It was mentioned that the underground passage runs under Feathered Serpent Temple, and the entrance is located a few meters away from the temple at the expected place, deliberately sealed with large boulders nearly 2, years ago. The hole that had appeared during the storms was not the actual entrance; a vertical shaft of almost 5 meters by side is the access to the tunnel. At 14 meters deep, the entrance leads to a nearly meter long corridor that ends in a series of underground galleries in the rock.

After archaeologists broke ground at the entrance of the tunnel, a staircase and ladders that would allow easy access to the subterranean site were installed.

Works advanced slowly and with painstaking care; excavating was done manually, with spades. Nearly 1, tons of soil and debris were removed from the tunnel. There were large spiral seashells, cat bones, pottery, fragments of human skin. The rich array of objects unearthed included: wooden masks covered with inlaid rock jade and quartz , elaborate necklaces, rings, greenstone crocodile teeth and human figurines, crystals shaped into eyes, beetle wings arranged in a box, sculptures of jaguars, and hundreds of metallized spheres.

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The mysterious globes lay in both the north and south chambers. Ranging from 40 to millimetres, the balls have a core of clay and are covered with a yellow jarosite formed by the oxidation of pyrite. According to George Cowgill of Arizona State University , the spheres are a fascinating find: "Pyrite was certainly used by the Teotihuacanos and other ancient Mesoamerican societies. Originally, the spheres would have shown brilliantly. They are indeed unique, but I have no idea what they mean. One of the most remarkable findings in the tunnel chambers was a miniature mountainous landscape, 17 metres underground, with tiny pools of liquid mercury representing lakes.

Two of the figurines were still in their original positions, leaning back and appearing to contemplate up at the axis where the three planes of the universe meet - likely the founding shamans of Teotihuacan, guiding pilgrims to the sanctuary, and carrying bundles of sacred objects used to perform rituals, including pendants and pyrite mirrors, which were perceived as portals to other realms.

After each new segment was cleared, the 3D scanner documented the progress. By nearly 75, fragments of artifacts have been discovered, studied, cataloged, analyzed and, when possible, restored. The significance of these new discoveries is publicly explored in a major exhibition at the De Young Museum in San Francisco , which opened in late September As of January 23, the name "Teotihuacan" has come under scrutiny by experts, who now feel that the site's name may have been changed by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century.

Archaeologist Veronica Ortega of the National Institute of Anthropology and History states that the city appears to have actually been named "Teohuacan", meaning "City of the Sun" rather than "City of the Gods", as the current name suggests.

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The city's broad central avenue , called "Avenue of the Dead" a translation from its Nahuatl name Miccoatli , is flanked by impressive ceremonial architecture, including the immense Pyramid of the Sun third largest in the World after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Along the Avenue are many smaller talud-tablero platforms as well. The Aztecs believed they were tombs, inspiring the name of the avenue. Scholars have now established that these were ceremonial platforms that were topped with temples. The Avenue of the dead is roughly forty meters wide and four Kilometers long. This area was a large plaza surrounded by temples that formed the religious and political center of the city.

The name "Citadel" was given to it by the Spanish, who believed it was a fort. Most of the common people lived in large apartment buildings spread across the city. Many of the buildings contained workshops where artisans produced pottery and other goods. The urban layout of Teotihuacan exhibits two slightly different orientations, which resulted from astronomical criteria, rather than topographic.

The central part of the city, including the Avenue of the Dead, conforms to the orientation of the Sun Pyramid, while the southern part reproduces the orientation of the Ciudadela. The two constructions recorded sunrises and sunsets on particular dates, allowing the use of an observational calendar.

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  8. During the time of A. Furthermore, the Sun Pyramid is aligned to Cerro Gordo to the north, which means that it was purposefully built there to witness the sunrises on these specific dates along the horizon of the hills. The artificial cave under the pyramid additionally attests to the importance of this spot. The fact that both orientations belong to alignment groups that are widespread in Mesoamerica can only be explained with the use of astronomical references at the horizon.

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    Teotihuacan belongs to the E-Group , meaning that the alignment of their structures are in order to organize a calendar from the sunrises and sunsets of solstices , proving that the placement of the structures did not rely heavily on topographic criteria, but rather on astronomical alignments.

    Given that the E-Group were all in the same general region of Mesoamerica, means their calendar was used for agricultural purposes. These dates signified the cycle of maize farming: February was for preparations, May brought rain which meant it was time to plant the maize, August was when the maize would begin to grow, and November was the time to harvest. This day calendar was made by the Aztecs and was called the tonalpohualli.

    Pecked-cross circles throughout the city and in the surrounding regions served as a way to design the urban grid, and as a way to read their day calendar. The urban grid had great significance to city planners when constructing Teotihuacan, as the cross is pecked into the ground in the Pyramid of the Sun in specific places throughout Teotihuacan in precise degrees and angles over three kilometres in distance.

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