Teotihuacans: The Place of the Gods

Teotihuacan, an Aztec name meaning ''place of gods,'' was the biggest city in Mesoamerica, South America. It covered an area of more than eight square miles. Big streets, religious buildings, and private houses were part of what made this civilization so sophisticated.

Monuments and murals show that the Aztec people of Teotihuacan had artistic talent. But archaeological investigations have uncovered little about the daily life and culture of these people. Scientists have strong evidence that this culture practiced human sacrifices. They also know that this advanced civilization worshiped a rain god and admired jaguars. Due to the detailed orientation of the grid plan of Teotihuacan, it seems like its people were aware of the movement of the celestial bodies and attached considerable significance to them.

Teotihuacan was precisely planned according to a strict system; it even had a river that was redirected into a channel to avoid interrupting a network of parallel streets. The street of the dead, which ran north to south, was a great avenue at 130 feet wide and 1.5 miles long. The city had shrines, temples, and two main pyramids. The pyramid of the moon was located at the north end while the pyramid of the sun was farther south. The sun and the moon were born in Teotihuacan according to local legend.

At the heart of the city were two monumental places of assembly: The Great Compound, which seems to have had an administrative function, and the Citadel, which was used for religious purposes. The Citadel’s platform, 400 yards wide led to the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent god. This temple once rose to a height of 70 feet and was covered in stucco and paintwork. It also had well-made, carved sculptures.

Researchers believe that Teotihuacan's population may have been more than 200,000. But, by the eighth century AD, the city was sacked and burned. No one really knows how it came to an end. Historians continue to seek clues and hopefully will have answers soon.

[Source: 100 Great Wonders of The World ]