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Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was the largest city of Pre-Columbian America; it is about 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Mexico City. "Teotihuacan" is the Aztec name, meaning Place of the Gods. According to legend this was where the Gods gathered to plan the creation of man. The name Teotihuacan is also used to refer to the civilization this city dominated, which at its greatest extent included most of Mesoamerica.

The city of Teotihuacan was built approx. 300 BCE, and reached its zenith approx. 300-600 AD, when it was the centre of an influential culture. At its height the city covered over 13 square km (over 8 square miles), and probably housed a population of over 150,000 people, possibly as many as 200,000. Archaeological evidence shows that the city contained neighborhoods of people from other parts of Mesoamerica, such as the Mixtec, the Zapotec, and the Maya. The broad central avenue was flanked by impressive ceremonial architecture, including the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and many lesser temples and palaces.

Unfortunately no ancient Teotihuacano texts are known to exist, but the city is occasionally referred to in the texts of Maya monuments, showing that Teotihuacan nobility traveled to and married with the families of local rulers as far away as Honduras.

By 650 Teotihuacan was in decline as a major power. The city was sacked and burned, possibly by the invading Toltec, approx. 750 AD.

Knowledge of the ruins of this huge city was never lost. The ruined city was a place of pilgrimage in Aztec times, it astonished visiting Conquistadores, and has been one of the most noted attractions for visitors to Mexico since the 19th century. Minor archeological excavations were conducted in the 19th century, and in 1905 major projects of excavation and restoration began, with the Pyramid of the Sun restored to celebrate the centennial of Mexican Independence in 1910. Teotihuacan remains a major tourist destination, now contains a museum, and archeological excavations at the site are ongoing.

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