MEXICO: Teotihuacán: A Multiethnic Metropolis


Archaeologist Linda Manzanilla’s decades of research at Teotihuácan have unearthed the history of an immense and sophisticated city with a complex sociopolitical organization based on group identity.

The ruins of Teotihuacán still have the capacity to awe. The Pyramid of the Sun — towering over the valley — is among the most massive ancient structures in the hemisphere. It was part of a complex society that achieved its apex almost 14 centuries ago in the Valley of Mexico, less than 30 miles from modern-day Mexico City. The ancient city at the heart of this society was among the largest and most sophisticated in the world, spreading out over more than 20 square kilometers and anchoring an urban state-level society in central Mexico for four centuries. Archaeologists estimate that 125,000 people once inhabited the site, which recorded its most exceptional achievements prior to 650 CE. Centuries later, the Nahuas of Mexico-Tenochtitlan — more commonly known as the Aztecs — encountered the abandoned city and gave it the name we use today: Teotihuacán.

Mario Alberto Castillo
Publication date: 
January 13, 2015
Publication type: 
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies Article