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Lecture 15

ANTH 210 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Cuicuilco, Teotihuacan, Lake Texcoco

Course Code
ANTH 210
Nicole Couture

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Lecture 15
Teotihuacan (ca. 200 BC - AD 750) - Highland Mexico
Greatest, largest city in the pre-Columbian world - surpassed only by the Aztec capital
Population of 100,000 people or greater - most densely populated city in the Americas and the
Western hemisphere
Very little in Europe that would rival Teotihuacan at this time
It was one of many cultures and political formations in ancient Mesoamerica - it describes a
cultural region that encompasses modern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and parts of Honduras and El
Map of Mesoamerica and Location of the Basin of Mexico
Teotihuacan located in highlands of central Mexico (outside of Mexico City)
Other Mesoamerican Societies
Olmec, Maya, Aztec (Tikal one of the largest ancient Mayan cities)
Teotihuacan is a highland site - 2200m above sea level in an area with a lot of geological activity. It was
one of the first several major polities clustered around Lake Texcoco
Geologically - volatile area, volcanoes, relationship with landscape is very immediate. Sites have been
destroyed by volcanic eruptions. These events were integrated into the Aztec world view (cycles end
with disaster). They thought that the end could be at any moment.
Aztec Empire (Triple Alliance - confederacy of 3 polities)
Capital: Tenochtitlan
They rose to power around AD 1300 and conquered by Cortes 1520
The Aztecs call themselves the Mexica
They spoke Nahuatl
o Teotihuacan means "Place of the Gods" or "Where the Gods are born"
The Aztecs had rediscovered Teotihuacan - a long-abandoned site by the time the Aztecs rose to
All Mesoamerican ancient cultures can be categorized into 3 broad time periods
Pre-Classic (formative)
o 2000 BC - 200 CE
o Cities take off during this time
o 200 CE - 900 CE
o associated with when Mesoamerica societies reached their peak - city reached their extent,
large monumental structure, artistic apogee, when writing takes off
o 900 CE to Spanish Conquest
o Not a period of decline
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