HISTORY OF THE CITY
About 2400 years ago, the Valley of Teotihuacan was occupied by various rural communities with a population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants.
Toward 200 b.C., part of the population from the Southern Basin of México, immigrates to the north of Lake Texcoco and formed a new population center, giving rise to the first planned urban settlement in Mesoamerica.
During the following phases of the development of the city, a sophisticated level of urbanization was reached as demonstrated by an urban plan with streets and blocks, dominated by two large perpendicular roadways running through them: the Avenue of the Dead and the East-West Avenue. Likewise, the city had a drainage and a sewage system in the residential units, buildings and public squares.
Its architectural style was characterized by slope panels.
The temples and palaces that limit the Avenue of the Dead were the political-administrative and civic-religious areas; while the residential units of the upper classes were located in the surroundings. Ordinary people lived on the suburbs.
At its peak, between 450 to 650 a.C., the city occupied an area of approximately 14,3 sq. mi,, with a population of 175,000 inhabitants. The demographic increase, the economic development, the high level of specialization and an important expansion in the arts and sciences generated great social differences.
The principal element of the government was religion. It dealt with a theocratic society with controlled not only the Valley of Teotihuacan, but the neighboring valleys of the Basing of Mexico as well.
Teotihuacán grew on top of itself during nine centuries, so we could see different levels of constructions which correspond to different stages in the development of the Teotihuacan culture, until its fall around 700-750 A.D..
After the city was abandoned and until the arrival of the Spanish, various cultural groups, such as the Toltecs and the Aztecs, respected it as a sacred city. Settlements established themselves on the outskirts, reoccupying the residential zones and the spring fed agricultural areas.
The true name of the ancient city is unknown, but the current one is in the Nahuatl language and is due to the Aztecs.
THEY WERE NOT MAYANS OR AZTECS: THEY WERE TEOTIHUACANS
Sometimes, people confuse the pre-Hispanic history and mix information from different times and different places.
So, we think that the Aztecs built Teotihuacan.
But no, they lived in Central Mexico, but so many centuries after this city was abandoned.
Teotihuacan is also not related to the pyramids of Egypt or other distant civilizations.
And also if the origin of its inhabitants and their language are unknown, today they are known simply as Teotihuacans.
THE PYRAMID OF THE SUN
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pre-Hispanic building of its time (AD 100-650) and one of the most important in Mesoamerica.
Its name is due to the fact that, since the sixteenth century, the chronicles mention that this great monument was dedicated to that divinity.
In 1905 Don Leopoldo Batres began his big exploration, by order of Don Porfirio Díaz. The purpose of this was to highlight the cultural greatness of the Mexican people through their pre-Hispanic works and to commemorate, in 1910, the Centenary of the Independence of Mexico.
Archaeological investigations indicate that its construction was carried out in a single operation and demonstrate that its interior is full of sand and country land. The tunnels that can be seen on its sides have been made by various researchers in order to learn about its history and its construction system.
The top of the pyramid was crowned by a temple where religious activities associated with the divinity to which this building was dedicated were carried out.
This pyramid was the base of a great temple dedicated to a deity whose dedication was the Sun.
A new interpretation proposes that the deity worshiped in this building was Tlatoc, the god of water.
THE PYRAMID OF THE MOON
The Pyramid of the Moon has a rectangular plan, it is 150 meters long on its east-west axis and 130 meters on the north-south, with an actual height of 42 meters.
A protruding body is attached to the front of the pyramid, larger than that of the structure attached to the front of the Pyramid of the Sun and which doesn’t appear to overlap, but is part of the same construction.
This structure has four staggered bodies with walls on a board slope. On the sides of this superimposed body, there are two large drainage channels limited by sidewalls.
As in the rest of the pyramidal foundations observed in the Archaeological Zone, in the upper part there must have been a temple, which, according to the data of the excavations carried out on the site, seems to have consisted of a single bay divided into three parts.
At its peak, the Pyramid of the Moon was painted red and dedicated to the goddess of water and fertility.
SQUARE OF THE MOON
One of the most important sacred spaces within the city of Teotihuacán is the one that includes the Pyramid of the Moon, its large square, the bases and structures that make up the entire complex.
It is in a strategic position in the entire urban setting, since it is the point where the main axis of the city begins, namely Avenue of the Dead.
Another feature of this area is that it presents an open perspective, unlike those of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Citadel, which are spaces limited by a platform.
In this sense, it is probably a place dedicated to public ceremonies, without restrictions for access to the entire community.
The main square in front of the Pyramid has a quadrangular plan, with a length of 140 meters per side and with the symmetrical position of the buildings on both sides of the axis of the Avenue of the Dead.
In its central part it has a large altar with steps leading to the four directions.
In front of the Pyramid of the Moon, there is a structure divided internally into five parts, which takes the name of “Teotihuacana Cross” or “Quincunce”.
The Quincunce in Mesoamerica is associated with a cosmological order of long tradition, in which the universe is divided into four regions, each governed by a cardinal point and in the center converge the power of the four corners of the cosmos and the three vertical levels (sky, earth and hell): the navel of the world.
THE AVENUE OF THE DEAD
The Avenue of the Dead is the main street in the city of Teotihuacán.
It has a south-north direction with an orientation of 13°25′ towards the east, compared to the astronomical north.
Its northern end is Square of the Moon and its southern end has not yet been explored.
Exceeds 4 km in length.
Perpendicular to it and the city center, the East-West Avenue divides Teotihuacan into four.
From both streets, the urban structure is carried out in such a way that the streets and the general orientation of all the buildings are parallel and perpendicular to them.
A COSMOPOLITAN CITY
Like many large cities today, Teotihuacan was a multicultural city, it represented a place of great importance in a vast territory, because its political, economic and religious influence reached faraway places.
Likewise, people from different regions come to live here.
Archaeologists have found neighborhoods of Zapotechi (Oaxaca) and groups from the Gulf coast (Veracruz).
Even today Teotihuacan continues to attract people from different parts of the world, because the archaeological area is considered a World Heritage Site.
It is difficult to know for sure which language or languages were spoken in Teotihuacan, there are different ideas about it.
There are those who think it was a variant of Nahuatl, others think that Otomí was spoken, that there were Nahua-Totonac, Mazateco-Popoloca groups or other languages.
However, even if we don’t know it, that demonstrates the cultural richness and linguistic variety that existed in Mesoamerica.
Today dozens of indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico. They have the same value as Spanish and are recognized by the Constitution.
Remember that indigenous languages are real languages!
One way to calculate the time was to observe a ray of sunshine inside a cave.
Several natural caves have been found in Teotihuacán, organized to be dark rooms, where the solar lighting inside them allows you to recognize some astronomically important moments.
At 270 meters from the Pyramid of the Sun, there is a 4 meter deep cave.
Inside, a small stele was found set vertically in a clay altar. The position and width of the solar beam inside the cave indicate the solstices, the equinoxes and the days when the sun reaches its zenith.
THE TEOTIHUACAN WRITING
Teotihuacan’s writing represents a language still unknown, since none of its signs has been completely deciphered and we don’t know exactly what his reading order was.
Topics covered in this writing system include dates, high-ranking titles, proper names, names of deities, geographic locations, names of some games or dances and probably short linear texts or arranged in columns separated by red lines.