Teotihuacan is thought to have been established around 100 BC, with continuous construction until about 250 AD and systematically burned around 550 AD. Its collapse might be related to the extreme weather events of 535–536. A guide told us that the stucco that was used to make the many murals covered the monuments. This meant that many trees were cut down and likely adversely affected the climate. (Will we ever learn?)
Stucco is an ancient cement. They used a fresco technique on the tablets and taludes which are slanted. Little pebbles are placed in the “mortar” so you know what has been replaced in modern times.
Teotihuacan was the largest city in the New World with over 100,000 inhabitants. However, at the height of their civilization, the city was abandoned for reasons unknown. They burned everything. Our guide said that the current theory is that their civilization was sacrificed. In the 800’s, the Aztecs came upon it and were so amazed that they thought that it must have been built by the gods.
We don’t even know the name of the culture. There is no language that has been found so there is no code to break. Murals are the only key to unraveling this culture.
The Teotihuacan conquered the areas that we know today as Belize and Guatamala. We know this because THEIR culture wrote about Teotihuacan. These secondary sources can be pieced together in order to learn more about Teotihuacan. They traded with these countries as some of their uniquely structured shiny 3 legged pottery bowls were found there.
They did not have a king but had “chiefs” in each of the neighborhoods. Each neighborhood had a small pyramid in the middle of the neighborhood. The top was used for communication and for performing rituals. The roof was the floor of the next level. Families lived together and were surrounded by labyrinths for protection. If one wasn’t part of the family or was a foreigner, it would take some time to enter.
Other ancient pyramids in Mesoamérica have four stairways to the top but Teotihuacan has only one. Also, obsidian was used here and was unique to Teotihuacan. They controlled the obsidian mines which was their main trade. Obsidian glass can be used to observe the sun. No money was found but it is known that they paid taxes. These “taxes” were paid by labor. There was no slavery here.
The Sun Pyramid is dedicated to water and fire. A sunset glares red and then is extinguished in the water.
Astronomers were the only ones to ascend the top of the great pyramids. They were next to the gods because they could predict the weather and the seasons.
Mexico has had a lot of chaos until the last 100 years. They knew about these ancient structures but did not have time to study them. Archeologists started in the early 1900’s. They started with the sun pyramid in 1906 and finished in 1920. It is 200 feet high. Mexico felt that they liberated it!
Side note: we saw workers removing the plants that had grown in the only two years of COVID shut down. Also, they also started preventing people from climbing the pyramids. It will likely stay that way.
In 2003, the archeologists found “underworld” tunnels after a big rain uncovered a 150-inch hole that had been covered for 1,800 years. It contained liquid mercury. Liquid mercury was known as sacred water. They sent robots down 300 feet. It took 2 weeks to go three feet. They found jade and incense but no graves.
Everyone dies. The gods didn’t care how you lived but how you died…and the best way to die is in battle. Warriors don’t go to the underworld but straight up to the gods. Warriors and chiefs went down into this tunnel containing liquid mercury and came back up as a new person with a new name.
Astronomers were very close to the gods. They could predict weather. They had water barrels on their homes in order to see the stars at night.
Every 52 years the sun and moon are in line. Every 104 years the sun, moon and Venus (the morning star) are in line. This phenomenon was observed in Teotihuacan.
There were five terrazas for planting. Each terraza was flooded and then went to the next level. During the dry season, they played a hoop type of game. At the end, there were sacrifices but it is unknown whether it was the winners, losers, or spectators who were sacrificed!
There was plumbing in the houses, even toilets. They used narrowing in order to create water pressure.
They used the agave thorn for getting blood for a partial sacrifice. The blood was mixed with incense and then burned.
Story: The gods decided a sacrifice was needed. The gods selected a man whose only purpose was to be the sacrifice and then he would be the sun. He was very arrogant. They selected another more humble man who was also sacrificed. Both became suns. The gods threw a rabbit at the arrogant one to take him out of the sky and he then became the moon. That is why you can see a rabbit on the moon.
Another story: Thunder is caused by breaking the clouds with obsidian knives.
Apocalypto is a Mel Gibson movie that is interesting but our guide said that it was not too factual.