The ceremonial centers of the Teotihuacanos are a set of pre-Columbian religious buildings located in the city of Teotihuacan. They constitute an architectural jewel in Mesoamerica, being declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.
It is made up of the Avenue of the Dead, the Pyramid of the Sun , the Pyramid of the Moon, the Citadel, the Palace of the Jaguars, the Building of the Feathered Shells and the Temple of Quetzacóalt.
Teotihuacan was a sacred city located in the Central Basin of Mexico, about 50 km northeast of Mexico City and means “place where the gods were created” (UNESCO, 2017).
It was the largest, most important, and most revered city during the golden age of pre-Columbian American history, the Classic Era, built from the 1st to 7th centuries AD
Teotihuacan was a city and not just a ceremonial center (Rodríguez Ramos, 2017, p. 120). It had 32 km2 of urbanized area (Rodríguez Ramos, 2017, p. 120) and a population of approximately 125,000 and 250,000 inhabitants (Plataforma Educativa Virtual Primaria de Oaxaca, 2017).
Unlike other religious centers that were separated from villages and cities, the ceremonial area of Teotihuacan was surrounded by a large urban concentration (Plataforma Educativa Virtual Primaria de Oaxaca, 2017).
For this reason, it was one of the five most populated cities in the world at that time (Plataforma Educativa Virtual Primaria de Oaxaca, 2017).
The city was later abandoned for reasons not clarified so far and discovered in the 12th century by the Aztecs .
Ceremonial centers of the Teotihuacanos
1- Avenue of the Dead
It is the main axis of the city and its measurements are 40 meters wide and 3.2 km long (Cartwright, 2017), crossing the entire sacred city of Teotihuacan.
It is bordered to the north by the Pyramid of the Moon and on its sides other buildings can be seen.
According to the social rank of the inhabitant, the proximity to the Calzada de los Muertos varied. The political and religious elite lived at the foot of the avenue, a little further away lived the builders, writers and sculptors and on the outskirts of the city lived the farmers, gatherers and hunters.
2- Pyramid of the Sun
Built between 100 and 100 BC on a 350 m2 plain (UNESCO, 2017), it has a base measurements of 225 x 222 meters (UNESCO, 2017) and a height of 75 meters, although today it is only 64.
It has 260 steps along its five levels that connect the base to the top. It is located in the center of the Calzada de los Muertos, between the Pyramid of the Moon in the north and La Ciudadela in the south (Visit Teotihuacan, 2017).
It is the third largest pyramid of pre-Hispanic times (Mexican Archeology, 2017) after Cholula and Tikal. It is made from large stones glued with a type of clay and decorated with religious representations.
It is the most important building in Teotihuacan and was built in a single stage (the Tzacualli) to pay veneration to the star king, although some authors maintain that it was actually dedicated to the god of rain (Mexican Archeology, 2017). Perhaps for this reason the pyramid is surrounded by a canal.
As was customary in many Mesoamerican cultures , human sacrifice was part of the cult of either the Sun god or the Rain god, so it is not surprising that human remains of children have been found in the four corners of the base of the pyramid (Archeology mexicana, 2017).
3- Pyramid of the Moon
Built around the same time as the Pyramid of the Sun (100 or 200 BC), it is slightly smaller than the Pyramid of the Sun, although they appear to be of the same height since the latter was built on higher ground.
Its base area is 140 x 150 meters and has a height of 45 meters (Arquelogía mexicana, 2017). It marks the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead.
This temple is surrounded by 13 foundations in the square, which provided perfect views of the sacrifices made in it.
At the foot of the pyramid is Structure A, framed by two bases, in whose interior there are nine altars arranged on the walls (Arquelogía mexicana, 2017).
The large rocks and the special mud or mud that holds them together are made of the same material as the Pyramid of the Sun and had hieroglyphs and religiously biased illustrations on top of the stucco that covered them.
Offerings of dolerite, obsidian, animal sacrifices of cougars, birds and rattlesnakes were found in the foundations of the temple (Cartwright, 2017).
Similarly, a lower section of the base was a tomb. At the top of the pyramid, three men buried with valuable pieces of jade suggesting that they were noble Maya (Cartwright, 2017).
4- The Citadel
It is an archaeological complex of the city of Teotihuacán that is located in the western area of the Calzada de los Muertos, south of the San Juan River (Visit Teotihuacan, 2017).
It forms a quadrangular square 400 m on each side and is believed to have been built between the mid-2nd and 3rd centuries CE.
The name was put by the Spaniards in the 16th century and they thought it was a military fortress, but in reality it is a square surrounded by 13 secondary temples whose central quadrangular structure is called the Great Platform.
Behind the secondary temples there are two large rooms where it is believed that the priests and other members of the Teotihuacan elite lived, although other authors refute this version. It was a center of political, economic and religious power.
5- The palace of the Jaguars
It is a courtyard built prior to the Palace of the Butterflies, on the west side (Visit Teotihuacan, 2017) between 450 to 650 BC
It owes its name to the two sculptures of jaguars with seashells on their tails and plumes of quetzal feathers on their heads. It is believed to have been the residence site of the city’s priests and political leaders.
6- The Temple of Quetzalcóatl
Located inside the Citadel and built around 250 AD (Visit Teotihuacan, 2017), it is the third most important structure of the archaeological complex (Visit Teotihuacan, 2017).
It was raised around Tlaloc, god of rain and corn who is represented as a feathered serpent.
It is a seven-level pyramid composed of vertical boards with cornices on each level.
Its architectural beauty lies in the fact that architecture was balanced with sculpture, as it is decorated with sculptures of winged serpents and adorned with bright decorative elements painted in blue, yellow, red and white.
At the time of its inauguration, 200 men and women who were not residents of the region were sacrificed (Cartwright, 2017).
Human remains were found in different parts of the pyramid, including warriors tied by their hands at the base of the pyramid and 20 people sacrificed at the top along with their valuable belongings (Cartwright, 2017).
7- The Building of the Feathered Shells
This temple of the Teotihuacan architectural complex seems to have been built between 200 and 300 AD.
Its abundant decoration is due to the paintings in high relief of musical instruments and on the platform, the relief is on the occasion of different species of birds together with symbols and snails.
Due to the insistence of the order of the graphics and the types of birds, it is believed that they are green periecos, protagonists of the Chicomotzoc myth or “the place of the seven caverns” also present in the Pyramid of the Sun (Visitar Teotihuacan, 2017).
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