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By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Teotihuacan. Located in a wide-open, expansive basin with abundant space for monumental architecture.

Aligned with Cerro Gordo, a volcano that blew its top and has an enormous cleft. First large American city-state, 200 CE
Rapid grwoth 350-650 CE
Commercial and manufacturing center
Population between 125,000-200,000
Controlled source of high-quality obsidian
Obsidian tools and pottery exchanged for luxury goods (ie, quetzal bird feathers, for priestly headdresses)
Spotted fur of the jaguar (ceremonial garments)
Pulque, an alcoholic brew made from maguey

Sacred landscape, ritual spaces, monumental architecture, laid out along a central axis in a north-south direction. Pyramids represent mountains and plazas represent seas. These features connect La Venta and Teotihuacan.



Fortified city center designed on a grid pattern.

Pyramid of the Sun

Largest structure at Teotihuacan. 200 feet high. 720 feet each side of the base. Built over a four-chambered cave with a spring, which was the original focus for worship. Pyramid rises in a series of sloping steps. Flat platform above (two-room temple now lost). Monumental stone stairway up the main side. No ball courts, only markers. Built with slope-and-panel construction -- talud-tablero.

Pyramid of the Moon

Avenue of the Dead

Temple of the Feathered Serpent

Dedicated to Quetzalcoatl. Is decorated with feathered serpents (Quetzalcoatl) and goggle-eyed rain/storm god (tlaloc). Was polychromed

Ceremonial center burned mid-7th century, but remains a legendary pilgrimage center for the Aztec people (c 1300 - 1525 CE) as a gathering place of the gods.

There is a fresco (pigments on damp lime plaster, not just painted) that shows a flat, angular, abstract style. Notable is a fresco of a bloodletting ritual.

Stuccoed tripod ceramic vessel from Teotihuacan, Early Classic
Flat, angular, abstract style of Teotihuacan contrasts with curvilinear Olmec art.