Mexico’s most impressive archaeological site was once a flourishing, ancient Mesoamerican city with its origin, history and culture that is largely a mystery.
Teotihuacán, has long stood as one of the greatest of Mesoamerican mysteries. It was once a large and sacred pre-Columbian city, located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City. Today, it is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
Situated in the middle of this World Heritage Site is the Avenue of the Dead which links the Temple of Quetzalcoatl or the Temple of the Feathered-Serpent; the iconic Pyramid of the Moon; and the Pyramid of the Sun. On-site also is The Museum of Teotihuacan Culture. Teotihuacan was a heavily painted site, with murals found throughout the city.
Until its mysterious end in the 7th century, Teotihuacan was a powerful, political, military, economic and cultural centre that influenced the whole of Mesoamerica. At its peak, more than 150,000 lived in an area of 20 sq.kilometers. They were skilled urban planners who built stone-sided canals, pyramids, temples and palaces coated with stucco and decorated with murals in brilliant colours. They built two 2.5 mile long aqueducts to supply fresh water to the city. Their stone houses had small courtyards, communal kitchen and sewage system.
It is unclear why the city was abandoned after a devastating fire, although there are several theories. But, by the time the Aztecs arrived in the 1400’s, and named it, Teotihuacán (‘the birthplace of the gods’), the city had been abandoned for centuries. However, the Aztecs, saw the magnificent ruins and claimed a common ancestry with the Teotihuacanos, modifying and adopting aspects of their culture.
In 2003, an unknown tunnel near the Temple of the Feathered Serpent was discovered. Inside were: engraved conch shells, greenstone statues, worked stone, bones of animals and humans and clay spheres coated with yellow mineral – over 50,000 pieces in all. Like many of the archaeological sites in Mexico, Teotihuacán guards secrets, we have yet to unravel.