The City at the Center of the Cosmos - Issue 57: Communities

The City at the Center of the Cosmos - Issue 57: Communities

Some 48 kilometers north of Mexico City, in the Basin of Mexico, towers the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán. This massive 71-meter high structure makes you feel like a speck of dust in the presence of the gods. And that is exactly what the builders intended. Those who dwelt at Teotihuacán lived at the heart of a vast sacred landscape. The city itself covered more than 21 square kilometers, and it dominated the basin and the surrounding highlands. By 100 A.D., at least 80,000 people lived there. And between 200 and 750 A.D., Teotihuacán’s population swelled to more than 150,000. At the time, it was as big as all but the largest cities of China and the Middle East.

Archaeologists have worked there for nearly a century. They’ve learned that Teotihuacán was a vast symbolic landscape of artificial mountains, foothills, caves, and open spaces that replicated the spiritual world. Over a period of more than eight centuries, the Teotihuacános built 600 pyramids, 500 workshop areas, a huge marketplace, 2,000 apartment complexes, and several squares or plazas.

Cosmology as geography: A view from the Pyramid of the Moon toward the Pyramid of the Sun.DEA / ARCHIVIO J. LANGE / Contributor /…
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