Civilizations in America

Teotihuacán


   Shortly after the Olmec civilization vanished, a new civilization arose in the second century BC in the valley of Mexico. This grand civilization would dominate the culture of the valley of Mexico for almost a millenium and stands as the most significant cultural influence throughout the history of Central American civilizations. This civilizations was centered around the city of Teotihuacán. At its peak, Teotihuacán was a city of over one hundred thousand people—not only was it the largest city in America, it was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, period.


The Pyramid of the Moon


   Teotihuacán was the religious center of Mesoamerica. It's skyline was dominated by two enormous pyramids which the Aztecs called the "Pyramid of the Sun" and the "Pyramid of the Moon," both linked by a broad avenue. It was a planned city of over two thousand structures. While farmers lived in wooden houses, others lived in stone houses decorated with paintings and murals and, in some cases, with elaborate drainage systems.


The Pyramid of the Sun


   Most of the citizens were farmers. On a typical day, well over half of the population of this huge city would leave the city and work on the agricultural lands surrounding the city.


Teotihuacan: The "Camino de los Muertos" from the Pyramid of the Sun


   It is a city shrouded in mystery. Who were these people? What was daily life like? What gods did they worship? Just as mysterious was its sudden demise. Begining around 700 AD, people simply stopped living in the city. Why they left is anyone's guess. Archaeologists have found evidence that a great fire decimated just about every structure in the city in 700 AD and some argue that the fire was caused by an invading people. Whatever the cause, the city never really recovered from the disaster and all its magnificence came to an end.

Richard Hooker



World Cultures

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1996, Richard Hooker
Updated 11-15-97