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Teotihuacan – "the place where the gods are born"

Teotihuacan – "the place where the gods are born"

Galina Strelkova
Тeotihuacan 2011

A wonderful city of Teotihuacan is sixty kilometers from the capital of Mexico. On its territory the world famous pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon are situated, and not only. The interest to the ancient city is growing from year to year. And from year to year the quantity of Russian tourists in here becomes more and more.

The first settlements in Valle de Mexico belong to the year 200 BC. And the city was built at the junction between two eras: the old and the new one. All the largest structures of Teotihuacan, including pyramids, were built in the period from 1 to 150 AD. The city existed till 750 AD and then, for unknown reasons, was abandoned.

Why was this place chosen to build the city? The most important reason was the infinite deposits of obsidian, a volcanic glass, which does not run out until now. The residents of the New World were not familiar with iron, that’s why they produced all of their household tools (such as knives, axes, scrapers, arrowheads, spears, etc.) of obsidian. The Spanish conquistadors were the first Europeans who came here. They claimed that obsidian blades were so sharp that they could be used for shaving. Now, local craftsmen adapted the obsidian for making souvenirs to the delight of tourists who come here from all over the world.

The city was huge; it had an area of 20 square kilometers and controlled the area, comparable with dimensions of European country such as Netherlands. And the city had no equal, neither in the Old nor in the New World! Teotihuacan civilization is on a par with such well-known civilizations like the Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec.

Panor?mica de Teotihuacan

The Aztecs came to Central America among the last wild barbarian tribes in the XIII century. Finding an abandoned city, the Aztecs, bewitched with the beauty of its architecture and planning, felling something divine even in the ruins of this city, gave it its name: Teotihuacan – "the place where the gods are born". In fact, no one knows, how the residents of the city called it, who were they, where they came from... The city holds many puzzles to solve which is not yet under the force of modern archeology.

We’ll begin our journey with an introduction to the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. To do it we’ll go up to the observation deck in front of the elegant pyramid of 22 m high. It is situated in the heart of the city in the midst of a huge former trade area enclosed from all sides by impressive walls with small pyramids and stone ladders. All Mexican pyramids were built truncated to can build a temple dedicated to any deity on the top. Alas, the time has not spared the top structures – the temples. They no longer exist.

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The pyramid is decorated with images of the Feathered Serpent – Quetzalcoatl. A wreath of feathers twists the thick neck of a serpent. The legends about the beloved deity are preserved by almost all the peoples of the Central and the South America. They speak of a white man or a group of persons, apparently belonging to a different race and a civilization much more advanced level of development of science, technology and culture. The images of Quetzalcoatl alternate with the image of Tlaloc, the god of rains.

Pir?mide Quetzallcoatl

From time to time archaeological and restoration works are held in Teotihuacan. Alas, it is impossible to complete restoration. It was decided to use for the restoration only those stones that were found on the territory of the city, and they are definitely not enough for it. The generations of the residents of nearby villages used actively the building material for their needs.

The view from the observation deck on the pyramid of Quetzalcoatl on the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon, to which we are heading down the Avenue of the Dead:

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The Avenue of the Dead is the five-kilometer avenue, stretching across the city. Only two and a half kilometers of its length are excavated. The ensemble of the city in the north ends with the Pyramid of the Moon 45 m high. The Pyramid of the Sun stands slightly apart from the Avenue of the Dead.

For the broad street, built by the residents of Teotihuacan with an unprecedented scale, it would be more correct to orient it by the main axis – north-south. But this did not happen. The avenue deviates from axis for 15°17'. The head of the crew of the film "Unknown Mexico" Andrey Sklyarov said that the axis really was in the right direction at the time of construction. However, after one of earthly disasters the North Pole changed the position, which caused the displacement of the Avenue of the Dead relatively to the axis. There is another version. The scientists have discovered that some stellar body corresponds to each structure of Teotihuacan, and the plan of the city resembles a star map of the sky, overturned on the ground! And the Avenue of the Dead corresponds to the direction of the Milky Way, on which, according to the ancient, the spirits of the dead people left to return once again to our beautiful Earth...

The picture shows the crew with the historian-guide of Mexican travel agency Mexico Experts Travel  info@metmexico.com

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I am sure that the residents of Teotihuacan were unaware of a Chinese system of urban planning "feng shui". (According to this system, the Chinese have carefully selected a place to build a new city. They had to find a place that would be protected from the north by mountain. If there was not any one then the mountain was made artificially.) By the accident or not, but the city of Teotihuacan is well protected from the north by the mountain Sierra Gorda. Thanks to this fact a special microclimate in the settlement is created.

The Pyramid of the Sun impresses with its size: its height is 65 m and the side of the base is 225 m. During the construction the ancient architects enclosed in the design and the volume of the pyramid the information addressed to future generations. Unfortunately, many things have been damaged during the restoration works. I'll tell you about the only one puzzle: a layer of mica, which was hidden under the top level of the pyramid. The mica was brought here from afar, perhaps even from Brazil. It’s extremely hard to work with mica, especially using the tools of obsidian. But it was neatly sliced and carefully put not only in the pyramid, but also in one of the temples of Teotihuacan. Why? This question doesn’t have an answer yet. I just remind you that until recently the mica was used in producing of capacitors, it is an excellent insulator of heat and electricity, it is impervious to fast neutrons and is used in nuclear reactors to slow down the nuclear reaction.

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Descending from the Pyramid of the Sun, we’ll back again to the Avenue of the Dead and pass through to the Pyramid of the Moon. 45-meter-high Pyramid of the Moon completes the urban ensemble in the north. The square in front of the pyramid, brilliant in conception and gorgeous on fulfilment is also striking for its beauty! All archaeologists who participated at different times in the excavation of Teotihuacan were amazed by the love and care of the inhabitants of the city which they filled building it. Each its stone was neatly cut, and embedded in the wall, and surrounded by an ornament of small chucks. All pyramidal structures were made by alternate stacking of vertical and inclined plates. Not only archaeologists participated in the excavation, but also adventurers of all the sorts, trying to find in the Pyramid of the Moon the countless treasures of Montezuma, which he allegedly hid from the greedy eyes of the Spanish conquistadors. The searches were unsuccessful.

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There were over 50 thousand of individual living quaters – palaces and "apartment" houses – in Teotihuacan. Some of them are perfectly preserved. The residents liked to decorate their houses with various frescoes depicting flowers, birds, deities, jaguars, and geometric designs. And the curious thing is that there was no single image of the ruler of the city, no single image of a warrior or of an implement, carrying death...

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Today, the tourists stroll through Teotihuacan, the sellers of souvenirs busily scurry about. Here you can hear even Russian speech: "Kupitie niedorogo pozhalusta". The locals, having a good ear, quickly memorize certain phrases that are taught by our countrymen.

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Sometimes, the choloes come here from their villages. Dressed up with feathers, bells and rattles, standing in a circle, they begin to dance some simple and rhythmic dance, consisting of simple repetitive movements, to the beat of drums. And you, as if hypnotized, inevitably get involved in the action, and the imagination takes you into the distant past. And before your eyes a huge city of Teotihuacan gets, sparkling in the sun with multicolored paintings of its pyramids and temples. By spacious squares, avenues the crowds of proud and majestic choloes are moving. The wind rustles the magnificent precious feathers of all colors, and they shimmer with diamond glitter. Tanned women in white tunics with a heavy flow of dark hair lead by the hand dark-eyed cheerful children...

Eight hours of the tour flew by. It is time to return to the familiar world.

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