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Teotihuacan Becomes the Cultural, Religious, and Trading Center of Mesoamerica

Teotihuacan, the Nahuatl word for “the place or city of the gods”, was one of the biggest and most significant cities in ancient Mesoamerica. This city, located in the northern part of the Valley of Mexico, was occupied in the ancient times. Refugees from the nearby Cuicuilco further swelled its population to up to 200,000 after the eruption of the Xitle volcano. Teotihuacan became the cultural, religious, and trading center of Mesoamerica towards the end of 100 BC according to the Bible Timeline with World History.

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“The Sun Pyramid”

Teotihuacan stood out among the greatest cities of the ancient world because of its grid layout and orientation of 15° east of true north. It was one of the biggest cities of the ancient world at its height which spanned up to 20 sq km across and contained many temples, palaces, pyramids, and apartments. The Avenue of the Dead (the main road) ran north-south of the city and ended at the Pyramid of the Moon while the Pyramid of the Sun—one of the most massive structures in ancient Mesoamerica—was built east of the Avenue of the Dead. Teotihuacan was the major religious center in central America at its peak and similar religious elements found in the city were also found in urban centers far from the area.

From the ceremonial centers, royal palaces and apartment complexes fanned out from the middle of the city. These stone structures were built in different sizes according to the social status of the persons who lived in them and these were painted with colorful murals, some of which have survived until today.

The Pre-Aztec people of Teotihuacan farmed the fields surrounding this enormous city while others engaged in pottery and carving of obsidian tools. It became the center for long-distance trade in Mesoamerica and its influence spread even to the neighboring Mayas in the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific coast, and south to Honduras. Central American figures resembling those in Teotihuacan also appeared in contemporary Maya monuments in places as far as Montana and Tikal in Guatemala while mica tiles used in Teotihuacan were brought from the Zapotecs of Monte Alban, an evidence of trade between the two peoples.

Read, Kay Almere., and Jason J. González. Mesoamerican Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs of Mexico and Central America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000
Cremin, Aedeen. The World Encyclopedia of Archaeology. Richmond Hill, Ont.: Firefly Books, 2012
Picture By Michael Wassmer from FranceFlickr, CC BY 2.0,
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