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Avenue of the Dead, spider goddess, the Sun, Moon pyramids: What to know about Teotihuacan

MEXICO CITY – Teotihuacan is one of the most ancient locations in Mexico, and after decades of research, the pyramids and origins of the site still remain a mystery. 

A KSAT news crew visited the site in September to learn more about the pyramids and history as San Antonio prepares for Day of the Dead. 

VISIT KSAT'S SPECIAL DAY OF THE DEAD SECTION

EARLY HISTORY

The city is located about 30 miles northeast of modern-day Mexico City.

Researchers believe it was settled as early as 400 B.C. and became the most powerful city in central Mexico by 400 A.D.

Its influence can be seen in other parts of Mexico. It’s believed the Toltecs or Totonacs inhabited the city, but who built the city has been debated over time.

The Aztecs found the ruins of the abandoned, ancient city in 1400 A.D. and named it Teotihuacan, which means “the place where the Gods were created.” 

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SITE LAYOUT

The Aztecs did not build the pyramids or structures at the site, but documented the land.

The site is arranged in a grid layout that covers about 8 square miles. 

The site contained apartment, multifamily style compounds and various plazas. 

The main buildings were connected by what the Aztecs called the Avenue of the Dead.

Along the avenue lies the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and Ciudedela, the Sun Pyramid and Moon Pyramid.

Other structures, which the Aztecs believed were tombs, were also built along the road.  That’s how the road got its name.

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TEOTIHUACAN GODS AND DEITIES

The site now features excavated murals with several deities, animals and gods.

Researchers believe the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan was the primary deity of the people.

The goddess is also known as a Teotihuacan Spider Woman. The goddess is believed to have been the goddess of the underworld.

Other deities include Quetzalcoatl, which is a farming and vegetation god, and the rain god called Tlaloc.

Human and animal sacrifices were performed at the site and at various temples.

Symbols that represent warriors, such as jaguars or pumas, wolves or coyotes and eagles, are also on several murals.

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OBSIDIAN

One of the known primary exports for Teotihuacan was obsidian. It was used for tools, weapons, pottery, luxury goods and spiritual ceremonies.

It is a naturally forming black volcanic glass and has been compared to the equivalent of steel to the modern world.

Researchers believe obsidian helped lead to the rise of the civilization in Teotihuacan. 

COLLAPSE 

It’s unknown why or exactly when the original civilization at Teotihuacan collapsed.

There are theories it was an uprising against high-ranking officials, but there is also a belief it collapsed due to agricultural changes in the landscape, or possibly a volcano eruption wiping out vegetation. 

The ruins remain and it was designated at a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

It is the most-visited archaeological site in Mexico with nearly 4.2 million visitors in 2017. 


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