Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal
6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 6) The City and Ruins of Teotihuacan
After the Basilica de La Virgen de Guadalupe we decided we should head just north of Mexico City to the Pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan. The rain was starting to come over Mexico City and if we were going to see Teotihuacan, we had to do it now. As we drove into the Park of Teotihuacan I noticed many many Agavi plants (sometimes known as the Century Plant).
Before we got to the ruins we stopped in a small store just outside the parking lot that sold Onyx sculptures of Teotihuacan, Aztec & Mayan culture as well as make blankets of the cloth made from the Agavi among other things. They of course sold the liquor products of the Agave…tequila, pulque and mescal. Me and Dan took some shots of Pulque and I gotta say it was pretty good. Pulque was made by the Teotihuacanes and was their only liquor. Luckaly it takes only 24 hours to ferment so making some was not a problem. If you have one liquor in your society, Pulque is not a bad way to go.
In the heart of the Agavi is where you find the juice and water of the plant which is what is used in tequila, pulque and mescal for liquor. If you cut off a leaf of the Agavi you can find its many uses, the inside skin can be pealed off resulting in a somewhat translucent paper like material. I got to pull some off and it was thick and could withold a hard pressing of a modern ball point pen and was used by the people of Teotihucan and likely other Mesoamerican and Native American peoples as paper. After peeling off the paper like skin you can pull out the meat of the leaf which comes out in fiber stips that feel like cotton and is actually used to make clothes, blankets and other cloth based items for the last few hundred years. The needle sharp tip of the Agavi leaf is used naturally for a neddle to sow the cloth inner of the plant, as a needle for medical uses, and eve for arrow tips and other weapons. On top of all those uses, if you rub the inside of the leaf with water you find that it can be used for soap. Needless to say the people of Teotihuacan and the North American Continent (Canada, United States of America, Estados Unidos de Mexico) lived off the Agave.
Seeing as all the scultures and blankets were gorgeous but incredibly out of my budget we moved on to the ruins themselves. The first part of the ruins we saw was a high fence with steps built at one end oppisite a pyramid, with a stange in the center and 2 stages built into the other walls. It was believe that this plaza was used for religious ceremonies. The architecture and acoustics of the plaza is amazing, and acheived feats that I think extremly few architects could achieve today. One of the most impressive features was that you could sit on the center stage or stand anywhere in the plaza and hear what somebody at the top of the pyramid was saying even when they spoke at a regular speaking volume. This was ideal for religouse events because they didn’t have gigantic speakers and microphones so the entire city could here them. There is no proof of a writen language in Teotihuacan that we have yet to find, but advancements in science, math, and architecture so great to achieve something like that to me would lead me to believe they wrote things down at least for use of engineering and building to achieve their goals when building. You could also stand from anywhere in the plaza and clap you hands and you would here a sound that I would describe as that of a bird “cawwing”. It is believed that this noise was used to call people to the plaza. I tested this out, and clapped my hands, it worked and it was alot of fun.
Side stages like this were thought to be used as platforms for other priests to observes whatever took place in the plaza.
Below we see the pyramid at one end of the plaza, and in front of that we see the center stage. It was actually a pyramid built over another pyramid that was believed to be built for the god Quetzalcoatl (did I spell that right?). The priests were rumored to be unhappy with the old pyramid so they simply built this one over the top. This was a trend in Mesoamerica. If you wanted to build in your city, you didn’t tear things down, but rather used them as a foundation for the new building. This even carried over as a practice between conqering Mesoamerican peoples, rather then tear down the conquored peoples temples and structures, simply build over them. The idea of destroying the buildings and materials of Conquored people didn’t come about in Mesoamerica until the Spanish arrived in Mexico.
uncovering the pyramid underneath…
A view from the top of the pyramid in the plaza.
Much more on Teotihuacan Tommorow.