Teotihuacan

Photos: Abe Atri
Words: Ashley Parks Sullivan

Thirty miles northeast of Mexico City, in the Mexico Basin, lies the epicenter of the cul- tural, architectural, and religious development of early Mesoamerican societies, the mysterious city of Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan was one of the largest and greatest archaic civilizations in the Americas, and the world for that matter. Some claim groups seeking refuge from erupting volcanoes brought many to Teotihuacan, but, regardless of what brought them, the city became multi-ethnically inhabited long before multicultural communities were a commonplace in society.

Teotihuacan is most well-known today for its monolithic, alien-dream inducing structures. It’s the perfect place to throw your next end of the world party. The city is home to the Pyramids of the Sun (one of the largest pyramids in the world) and the Moon, as well as vibrant murals depicting the city’s environment and cultural perspectives. Goddesses, coyotes, and jaguars are painted right along side warriors and sacrifices. However, what’s even more intriguing is the organization and layout of the city. As ancient as it is, it truly has a modern feel. The layout is even said to be angled so that residents could keep track of the calendar, causing light to touch certain places at certain times of the year. The city is laid out in a unique geometric pattern that people have compared to a computer circuit board with two large processor chips. Silicon Valley Beta?


Like many of our ancient civilizations, the decline of Teotihuacan is as much of a mystery as its beginnings. Its population dwindled around the 6th century CE, possibly due to overpopulation and drought and a short time later, fires destroyed many significant structures. Some believe that there was an uprising from within, and the inhabitants overthrew the ruling class. When the Aztecs finally discovered the city, nearly a thousand years later, they were awestruck, and it became something of legends. They believed that the modern world stemmed from it. While Teotihuacan may have only thrived between the 1st and 7th centuries CE, its pre-urban design served as a model for large-scale planning, which has greatly influenced modern cities worldwide.