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A New Interpretation of Teotihuacán
In the Aztec language, Nahuatl, Teotihuacán is translated as “the place where gods were born.” In this article we hypothesize:
1) Teotihuacán was originally aligned to a former North Pole that was located near Hudson Bay
2) The Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the Palace of the Jaguars are associated with the succession of Aztec sun gods Chalchiuhtlicue, Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl, and Tezcatlipoca, respectively.
3) Tezcatlipoca, who was the First Sun in the Aztec creation myth of the Five Suns, corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in the Bering Sea, Quetzalcoatl was the Second Sun that corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea, Tlaloc was the Third Sun that corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in Greenland, and Chalchiuhtlicue was the Fourth Sun that corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay
4) The distances between The Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the Palace of the Jaguars as measured along the Avenue of the Dead correspond to intervals between pole shifts
5) Based on new archaeoastronomy evidence, the Pyramid of the Moon might have been the first structure built at Teotihuacán approximately 35,000 years ago
6) The other structures were probably added later just before the latest pole shift from Hudson Bay to the current North Pole, around 18,000 years ago.
Figure 1 Sites aligned to the Hudson Bay pole.
Teotihuacan wasn’t established by 400 BCE. However, it didn’t experience prosperity until three centuries later. The inhabitants of Cuicuilco made the town their refugee since the city was destroyed by a volcanic eruption.
Around 750 CE central Teotihuacan smoldered, probably in the course of an insurgency or a civil war. However, after the war, many parts were taken, whilst half of it came under the ruin. Centuries later Teotihuacan was admired by Aztec pilgrims.
Their cultural impact made a huge impact all over the Mesoamerica, and the city started trading with other regions. Possibly 2/3 of the urban population were engaged in farming the bordering fields.
Others worked with obsidian or ceramics- a volcanic glass that was used for tools, ornamentation, and weapons. The city had huge numbers of merchants, as well.
Half of them were from different regions that took shelter in Teotihuacan. The priest-rulers that reigned the town organized religious processions and rituals that frequently comprised human sacrifices.
Teotihuacan is known for its colorful murals inked on the walls. They could be seen several apartment complexes including other buildings recognized as palaces and temples.
The designs consist of the images of the storm god- Tlaloc, along with a goddess that is a scholar known as ‘Great Goddess’ associated with agricultural fertility. Other patterns incorporate jaguars, birds, owls, coyotes, and the feathered serpent.
Whether or not the pictorial figures discovered at Teotihuacan established a proper writing practice is still a cause of debate. A professor at the University of California- Karl Taube- praising the huge and old city- claims that the people of Teotihuacan had a convoluted system of hieroglyphic writing.
Pyramid of the Sun and Avenue of the Dead.
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System of Rule
Little is known about the form of government that existed in Teotihuacán. It can be assumed, however, that at the beginning of the 2nd century at the latest – when the overall urban planning was realized in Teotihuacán – the fate of the city lay in the hands of an individual leader. The seat of government was most likely located at different places: in the monumental Xalla building compound located to the north of the Pyramid of the Sun and in the living quarters of the Citadel flanking the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. In the 4th century a radical change must have come about: the huge sculpted serpent’s heads of the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid were smashed and a large platform was erected on one side. After this act of destruction the subsequent rulers built their seat of government right above the "Avenue of the Dead".
Even today we still do not know any of the names of the Teotihuacán rulers, and we do not possess any inscriptions that would give testimony to their achievements. This contrasts sharply with the concomitant Maya civilization, the dynastic history of which is well-known: they erected steles with inscriptions that glorified their rule and recorded the important events of their lives on them.
Interesting facts about Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan is a vast Mexican archaeological complex.
It was an ancient Mesoamerican city located 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of modern-day Mexico City, known today as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas.
It is characterized by the vast size of its monuments – in particular, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, laid out on geometric and symbolic principles.
Apart from the pyramids, Teotihuacan is also anthropologically significant for its complex, multi-family
residential compounds the Avenue of the Dead and the small portion of its vibrant murals that have been exceptionally well-preserved.
The city is thought to have been established around 100 BC, with major monuments continuously under construction until about 250 AD. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD but its major monuments were sacked and systematically burned around 550 AD.
The early history of Teotihuacán is shrouded in mystery. Little is known about its ancient builders, including their name, precise religious beliefs, or language.
At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population estimated at 125,000-200,000, making it at least the sixth largest city in the world during its epoch.
The city covered 21 square kilometers (8 square miles).
Scholars had thought that invaders attacked the city in the 7th or 8th century, sacking and burning it. More recent evidence, however, seems to indicate that the burning was limited to the structures and dwellings associated primarily with the ruling class. Some think this suggests that the burning was from an internal uprising.
As one of the most powerful cultural centers in Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan extended its cultural and artistic influence throughout the region, and even beyond.
Teotihuacan is actually the Aztec name for the city, meaning “place where gods were born“ unfortunately, the original name is yet to be deciphered from surviving name glyphs at the site.
In addition to some 2,000 single-story apartment compounds, the ruined city contains great plazas, temples, a canalized river, and palaces of nobles and priests. The main buildings are connected by a 40-meter- (130-foot-) wide road, the Avenue of the Dead (“Calle de los Muertos”), that stretches 2.4 km (1.5 miles).
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest building in Teotihuacan and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. It dominates the central city from the east side of the Avenue of the Dead. The pyramid rises 66 metres (216 feet) above ground level, and it measures approximately 220 by 230 metres (720 by 760 feet) at its base.
The north end of the Avenue of the Dead is capped by the Pyramid of the Moon and flanked by platforms and lesser pyramids. The second largest structure in the city, the Pyramid of the Moon rises to 43 meters (140 feet) and measures 130 by 156 meters (426 by 511 feet) at its base.
The Temple of the Feathered Serpent is the modern-day name for the third largest pyramid at Teotihuacan. This structure is notable partly due to the discovery in the 1980s of more than a hundred possibly-sacrificial victims found buried beneath the structure.
The art of Teotihuacan, as represented in sculpture, pottery, and murals, is highly stylized and minimalist. Stone masks were made using jade, basalt, greenstone, and andesite, often highly polished and with details, especially eyes, rendered using shell or obsidian.
Many of the artifacts from the site have prudently been moved to National Anthropological Museum, in Mexico City.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Teotihuacan was a multi-ethnic city, with distinct quarters occupied by Otomi, Zapotec, Mixtec, Maya, and Nahua peoples. The Totonacs have always maintained that they were the ones who built it. The Aztecs repeated that story, but it has not been corroborated by archaeological findings.
It appears that the primary deity at Teotihuacán was a female, called the “Spider Woman” by scholars. There are also depictions of other female deities, including a Water Goddess. Other important deities at Teotihuacán included: the Rain God (called Tlaloc by the Aztecs) Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent the Sun God and Moon Goddess and Xipe Totec (Our Lord the Flayed One, associated with renewed vegetation).
The whole city of Teotihuacán seems to be aligned astronomically. It is consistently oriented 15 to 25 degrees east of true north, and the front wall of the Pyramid of the Sun is exactly perpendicular to the point on the horizon where the sun sets on the equinoxes. The rest of the ceremonial buildings were laid out at right angles to the Pyramid of the Sun. The Avenue of the Dead points at the setting of the Pleiades. Another alignment is to the dog star Sirius, sacred to the ancient Egyptians, which has led some to suggest a link between the great pyramids of Egypt and Mexico.
Teotihuacan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited of Mexico’s archaeological sites.
Knowledge of the huge ruins of Teotihuacan was never completely lost. After the fall of the city, various squatters lived on the site. During Aztec times, the city was a place of pilgrimage and identified with the myth of Tollan, the place where the sun was created.
The city was initially excavated in 1884. In the 1960s and ’70s the first systematic survey (the Teotihuacán Mapping Project) was led by the American archaeologist René Millon, and hundreds of workers in 1980–82 excavated under the direction of the Mexican archaeologist Rubén Cabrera Castro. Work in the 1990s focused on the city’s subterranean tunnels and on the apartment compounds, which were found to be decorated with vividly painted murals.
Long-standing threats to the greater area of ruins are posed by human habitation (including five towns), numerous shops, roads and highways, and a military base. Many neighbourhoods excavated in the late 20th century had been earlier cultivated by farmers.
Teotihuacan Avenue of the Dead
One of the first things you notice when you enter the site at the main entrance is the massive Avenue of the Dead. Named by the Aztecs who assumed the city long after the original builders had left. These new residents named the roadway after the tombs at the side of the expansive walkway. However they weren’t tombs but rather small residences and pyramids lining the grand walkway.
Like all great streets, it connects important spots in a city. This Avenue connects the major ceremonial world that you will explore, from the Citadel in the South to The Great Pyramid of the Sun and then onward to the Pyramid of the Moon.
The road itself runs for more than 4 KMs (2.5 miles) although Archeologists believe that it was almost double that in its prime. The width of the street varies from 40 to 95 meters. It was built over a manmade channel to drain the rainwater into the Rio San Juan. The alignments of the Avenue and of the attached buildings and pyramids is aligned astronomically and gives sway to the claims that the Avenue and city were very planned and organized before they were built. It is approximately 16 degree North West and is aligned wit
Teotihuacan – Avenue of the Dead
h the setting sun on specific religious dates.
The Avenue is not a single level road it rises as it heads north. The Rio San Juan was diverted to cross at right angles with the Avenue, so a bridge roadway leads pedestrians across the water. As you move north you enter stepped plazas you walk up steps to the wall then down to the plaza then up again. The framework of residences are on both sides of the roadway some with elaborate carvings and small stepped pyramids.
Be sure to visit the mural of the Jaguar located near the Pyramid of the Sun on the Western side of the Avenue.
Teotihuacán, The Lost City of the Gods
Just a short bus ride from Mexico City, following the brown signs with one word – piramides – is the most visited archaeological site in all of Mexico. Our name for the place is Teotihuacán, which is the Hispanicization of the Aztec name for the place, Teotihuácan, which has been interpreted to mean “the place where the gods were born.” While being the most visited archaeological site in Mexico, not much is known about it. No one knows what the inhabitants of the city actually called the city as no formal writing system existed there. The common language used at Teotihuacán is unknown, along with the ethnicity of its rulers. No one knows exactly who built the city of for what purpose. Archaeologists and historians are unclear whether or not Teotihuacán was an empire, a city-state or just a religious and commercial center with little or no territorial ambitions. It was one of the largest population centers in all of Mesoamerica at the time and some historians say that at its height of population in the first centuries AD it was easily the 5 th or 6 th most populous city in the world with over 125,000 people living there. In spite of its grandeur and scope and impact on Mexico many centuries after its collapse, Teotihuacán today largely remains a huge mystery.
What do we know of this place? When the Spanish arrived here in the early 16 th Century, squatters lived among the ruins. The Aztecs, who ruled the surrounding area at the time of the Spanish Conquest, did not build Teotihuacán. In fact, the Aztec Empire only came to prominence about a thousand years after the height of the city. The Aztecs thought the place holy and it was said that the gods and the sun itself came from there. Emperor Montezuma, it was said, would take regular pilgrimages from his capital of Tenochtitlán to Teotihuacán. While revered by the Aztecs, no Aztec knew anything about the city’s origins, who lived there or why the place even existed.
Before we talk about modern archaeological finds and scientific and non-scientific theories and speculation, let’s begin with a general overview of the site layout. Teotihuacán is located in the modern Mexican state of México just 25 miles north of present-day Mexico City. The city was built on a north-south axis aligned to precisely 15.5° east of north. The city’s grid extended uniformly across a vast land area. At the city’s height, around 450 AD, the area included in Teotihuacán proper covered some 32 square miles. Dominating the core of the city is the Avenue of the Dead, or Calzada de los muertos in Spanish, which is over 130 feet wide at its thickest point and runs over 3 miles long. The name Avenue of the Dead is a direct translation of the Nahuatl word for the road, Miccoatli. The Aztecs named it that because they believed the platforms lining the road contained tombs. Besides the platforms, on the side of this great road we see some of the most impressive pieces of monumental architecture in the ancient world. Two massive pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, dominate the ceremonial heart of the city along with large palaces and temples. Besides the pyramids the more notable buildings include the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the Court of the Columns and the Quetzal-Butterfly Palace. On the western side of the Avenue of the Dead, across from the Temple of the Feathered Serpent is what is called the Great Compound, which served as the city’s massive marketplace. Most of these structures are surprisingly well preserved. The signs leading to Teotihuacán say piramides for a good reason the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon dominate the ancient city. The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid at the site and the third largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt and the Great Pyramid of Cholula found just south of Teotihuacán. Please see Episode number 26 of Mexico Unexplained for more information on the Great Pyramid of Cholula. Teotihuacán’s largest pyramid measures 720 feet by 760 feet at its base and is 260 feet tall. It has a volume of 41.8 million cubic feet of stone, rubble and a conglomeration of other materials. This massive structure, just like the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt, once was covered in a bright white, smooth limestone facing. This structure was most likely slightly larger in the past than it is now, as quarrying and reconstruction efforts have reduced the size of the pyramid slightly. Outward from the ceremonial center were living quarters and workshops for the various commercial trades found throughout the city. Teotihuacán may represent the first place in the Americas where multi-level apartment-house dwellings were built. The city was divided into barrios where peoples of different areas of Mesoamerica lived, notably the Otomi, Zapotec, Maya, Nahua and Mixtec peoples. Many of the buildings were fashioned in what would later be termed the talud-tablero architectural style, in which an inwards-sloping external side of a structure called a talud is surmounted by a rectangular panel called a tablero and repeated. This style was adopted by other sites throughout Mesoamerica. Many intricate and colorful murals survive throughout the city and depict everything from mythological allegories to scenes from everyday life. Many of these paintings were done in the fresco style ala the Italian Renaissance and are regarded as some of the best in the ancient Americas. There were also many canals for irrigation to support farming and many of the living areas had their own small gardens for food. There is a surprising lack of any evidence for fortifications at Teotihuacán.
Occupation at the site of Teotihuacán began around 200 BC. During this time many small urban centers began to emerge in central Mexico. At the time of Teotihuacán’s ascendency another competing urban center in the southern part of the Valley of Mexico called Cuiculico was threatened by the eruption of the volcano Xitle. Scholars believe that the threat of the volcano caused people to emigrate from the southern shores of Lake Texcoco to the Teotihuacán Valley, thus encouraging the growth of the city. By 100 AD, the Pyramid of the Sun and most of the other massive buildings were completed. Building continued at a steady pace until 450 AD. Although the political structure of Teotihuacán is unknown, it is clear that a highly structured civil society was necessary to complete such organized and massive building projects. As found in graves and in the architecture of dwellings, there was definitely a hierarchy and a marked social order to the place. It’s long been debated whether or not Teotihuacán was the center of an empire, but we know of its influence both politically and culturally. Without a doubt, the city was the center of industry as hundreds of workshops employed craftsmen working in stone, clay, wood and feathers. Stamped decorations found on Teotihuacán pottery is indicative of mass production. Fashioned obsidian and pottery from Teotihuacán has been found as far away as the Maya sites of Kaminalyjuyú in Guatemala and Copán in Honduras, almost a thousand miles away. To the north, the Teotihuacán trade network reached as far as the area of modern-day Santa Fe, New Mexico, with turquoise mined from the mountains around Cerillos found 1,400 miles away at Teotihuacán. There was definite contact between Teotihuacán and the ancient civilization of the Hohokam in Arizona, as the Mesoamerican ball game began to appear in the ancient cities around modern-day Phoenix around 500 AD. Some scholars believe that one of the major functions of Teotihuacán was religious. Archaeologists have discovered caves and tunnel structures underneath the pyramids in the city. These caverns may be related to the Mesoamerican creation myth and the center of the city may have been a place of pilgrimage, much as what had been witnessed in the latter days with the Aztecs visiting the ruins at Teotihuacán for religious reasons. Those scholars who propose Teotihuacán as a political empire that conquered or exacted tribute from surrounding areas much like the Aztecs, cite historical writings from the Maya, who had a written language at the time. The Maya called Teotihuacán Puh, or “The Place Where the Reeds Grow,” and references to the great city have been found at various Maya sites. An inscription found at the lowland Guatemalan Maya city of Tikal references a ruler called Jatz’om Kuh which has been translated as “Owl that will Strike” or “Spearthrower Owl”, a Teotihuacán ruler who reigned 60 years and died in the year 439 AD. Some say this king installed his relatives to rule over the Maya cities of Tikal and Uaxactun in modern-day Guatemala. A group of Mesoamerican scholars proposing an internalist view with regard to the relationship between Teotihuacán and the Maya world theorize that the ancient Maya only emulated the elites of Teotihuacán and were linked to that city through trade and copied elements of their culture and religion, but were politically separate from it. The externalist view believes that Teotihuacán militarily invaded the faraway cities of the Maya civilization and directly ruled over some of them. So, it is unclear whether or not Teotihuacán was the center of a political empire or merely the center of a commercial, cultural and/or ideological one.
Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of this “Lost City of the Gods” is why it collapsed. There are many theories. These theories range from external warfare to environmental degradation to the “return of the star people” beliefs. The latest theory now in fashion is climate change, which is not surprising because many theories of collapses of ancient civilizations throughout the world tend to mirror our own contemporary ideas of doomsday. Many scientists believe that lengthy droughts occurring in the years 535 and 536 caused famine and pressure on the population and with that came social discord and the abandoning of the city. Smaller skeletons and remains showing malnutrition began to appear in the archaeological record at this time. In around the year 650 AD we know the city suffered a great fire, but the fire did not engulf the entire city. It was restricted to the ceremonial centers and the neighborhoods of the elites. This was accompanied by destruction of sacred objects and an overall looting of the wealthier areas of the city. 100 years after the fire Teotihuacán was a shadow of its former self.
As an armchair archaeologist, I would like to put forth my own theory as to what caused the collapse of Teotihuacán. This theory has never been proposed by anyone else, as far as I know. As the producer of the podcast, I suppose I have a right to express myself beyond the general presentation of information, at least once in a while. My theory of the collapse of Teotihuacán may also be rooted in a somewhat contemporary vision of our own doomsday held by some. As Teotihuacán grew in size and wealth, we see it attracted more and more foreigners. A few centuries after the city’s founding, the impact of the foreigners was measurable. The barrios mentioned before that housed people from the Gulf Coast, the Maya regions of Central America and other far-flung parts of Mexico increased in size with time. We see this in the archaeological record with the increase in foreign pottery styles and religious iconography that was coming from outside the traditions of the city. Did these foreign groups assimilate into the wider culture of Teotihuacán or did they butt heads with the rulers? According to the studies by Harvard professor Robert Putnam, increased cultural diversity in a limited geographical area causes increased strife. The mantra we hear in modern America, “diversity is our strength,” is called to question here. Back in Teotihuacán, it is quite curious that the Great Fire of 650 AD and its accompanied looting only raged through the elite areas of the city. This suggests great internal social turmoil. With foreigners outnumbering the native ruling classes, one could only imagine the tensions stemming from a variety of causes. I tend to think that the droughts that happened a century before the calamities of 650 AD had little effect on the collapse because, for one, the droughts were brief, and also, other cities in the area were on the rise while this one was on the decline. A drought would have affected the other major cities in the area, too, like Cholula, and it did not. Perhaps you can throw my theory of cultural diversity causing the collapse onto the pile of unfounded speculations and misdirected musings regarding the end of Teotihuacán. Perhaps with more reflection on our own current situation with regard to immigration in the West this may cause archeologists and political historians to formulate similar theories with regard to Teotihuacán. Until we come up with a concrete and indisputable reason or set of reasons for the collapse of this great city, it will remain one of the greatest mysteries of ancient Mexico.
REFERENCES USED (This is not a formal bibliography)
The Aztecs, the Maya and their Predecessors by Muriel Porter Weaver
Ancient Mesoamerica by Richard E. Blanton, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Gary Feinman and Jill Appel
Teotihuacan, Pyramid of the Sun and Avenue of the Dead
Teotihuacan was an ancient Mesoamerican city located in a sub valley of the Valley of Mexico, located in the State of Mexico near modern-day Mexico City, known today as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramids, Teotihuacan is also anthropologically significant for its complex, multi-family residential compounds the Avenue of the Dead and the small portion of its vibrant murals that have been exceptionally well-preserved. Additionally, Teotihuacan exported fine obsidian tools that garnered high prestige and widespread utilization throughout Mesoamerica.
The city is thought to have been established around 100 BC, with major monuments continuously under construction until about AD 250. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, but its major monuments were sacked and systematically burned around 550 AD. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population estimated at 125,000 or more, making it at least the sixth largest city in the world during its epoch. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population. The term Teotihuacan (or Teotihuacano) is also used for the whole civilization and cultural complex associated with the site.
Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The later Aztecs saw these magnificent ruins and claimed a common ancestry with the teotihuacanos, modifying and adopting aspects of their culture. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of Teotihuacan is also a subject of debate. Possible candidates are the Nahua, Otomi, or Totonac ethnic groups. Scholars have also suggested that Teotihuacan was a multi-ethnic state.
The site covers a total surface area of 83 square kilometres and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
The city's broad central avenue, called "Avenue of the Dead" (a translation from its Nahuatl name Miccoatli), is flanked by impressive ceremonial architecture, including the immense Pyramid of the Sun (third largest in the World after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza). Along the Avenue of the Dead are many smaller talud-tablero platforms. These were ceremonial platforms that were topped with temples.
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest building in Teotihuacan and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. Found along the Avenue of the Dead, in between the Pyramid of the Moon and the Ciudadela, and in the shadow of the massive mountain Cerro Gordo, the pyramid is part of a large complex in the heart of the city.
The name Pyramid of the Sun comes from the Aztecs, who visited the city of Teotihuacan centuries after it was abandoned the name given to the pyramid by the Teotihuacanos is unknown. It was constructed in two phases. The first construction stage, around 100 C.E., brought the pyramid to nearly the size it is today. The second round of construction resulted in its completed size of 224.9 meters across and 75 meters high, making it the third largest pyramid in the world. The second phase also saw the construction of an altar atop of the pyramid, which has not survived into modern times. The Adosada platform was added to the pyramid in the early third century.
The orientation of the structure may hold some anthropological significance. The pyramid is oriented slightly northwest of the horizon point of the setting sun on two days a year, August 12 and April 29, which are about one divinatory calendar year apart for the Teotihuacanos. The day of August 12 is significant because it would have marked the date of the beginning of the present era and the initial day of the Maya long-count calendar. In addition, many important astrological events can be viewed from the location of the pyramid that are important in terms of both agriculture and belief systems of the ancient society.
Pyramid of the Sun
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest building in Teotihuacán , believed to have been constructed about 200 CE, and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. Found along the Avenue of the Dead, in between the Pyramid of the Moon and the Ciudadela, and in the shadow of the massive mountain Cerro Gordo, the pyramid is part of a large complex in the heart of the city.
The name Pyramid of the Sun comes from the Aztecs, who visited the city of Teotihuacán centuries after it was abandoned the name given to the pyramid by the Teotihuacanos is unknown. It was constructed in two phases. The first construction stage, around 100 CE, brought the pyramid to nearly the size it is today. The second round of construction resulted in its completed size of 225 m (738 ft) across and 75 m (246 ft) high, making it the third largest pyramid in the world, though still just over half the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza (146 m (479 ft)). The second phase also saw the construction of an altar atop of the pyramid which has not survived into modern times.
Pyramid of the Sun (right) and Pyramid of the Moon (background) as seen from Temple of the Feathered Serpent. (1245k)
Pyramid of the Sun. (832k)
Pyramid of the Sun. (1061k)
Pyramid of the Sun. (850k)