The Teotihuacan Trinity
The Sociopolitical Structure of an Ancient Mesoamerican City
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Texas Press
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On my first visit to Teotihuacan I was wholly unimpressed. Though this thought now causes me much chagrin, at the time I had been seduced by the florid art and tree-sheltered architecture of the Maya. In fact, my initial view of the city was through the small window of a camper on a pickup truck while making my way home from excavations in Belize. Through this small window, the incredible size of...
Chapter 1: Approaching the City
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Whether it be A.D. 400 or today in the twenty-first century, the Avenue of the Dead profoundly overwhelms any visitor to the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan. In an almost indescribable manner this broad street orchestrates the space around it, incorporating the visitor into the careful integration of architecture and natural landscape (Figure 1.1). The avenue once...
Chapter 2: The Invisible Kings
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Though many have looked for the rulers of Teotihuacan, the search for those who orchestrated the massive building campaigns and designed the city’s organized layout has been a perplexing one. The picture is not clear, and any proposals on the issue seem to be tenuous arguments that lack solidity. To the modern researcher, the Teotihuacan rulers simply do not announce their presence...
Chapter 3: Ancestral Foundations
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The nature of Teotihuacan art implies that the rulers of this city contended for power with a variety of social entities. As images of the king gradually become more visible to modern eyes, he appears not as a completely submerged personality, but still as an institution that featured the office much more than the individual. Even when the surviving texts...
Chapter 4: Animals, Cannibals, and the Military
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The final component in the Teotihuacan trinity, joining the ruler and the lineages, was the military. While the ruler may seem elusive, and the ancestral bundles of the lineages all but vanished, evidence of a military presence at the city is extensive. Militaristic individuals populate the visual arts in large numbers, marching on painted walls near the city center and out in the more secluded apartment compounds. Likewise, warriors circle around...
Chapter 5: A Marriage of Convenience: The King and the Military
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Like the mortar that holds a house together, the military orders provided the unifying force that bound the city into a concordant whole.While the military may have risen as a necessary part of establishing a new city, its later manifestation when Teotihuacan was at its apogee reflects an urgent need to counteract the oppositional forces of the other elements of the triad. Inherent tensions between the ruler and...
Chapter 6: The Gods Did It: The Divine Sanction of Power
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The murals of Atetelco’s White Patio provide a unique opportunity to reconstruct at least one version of Teotihuacan’s political structure because the three separate murals were so clearly designed as a unified program.While each discrete portico celebrates a particular social body, as a cohesive unit the structures describe the inter-relatedness of these social institutions. The north portico expresses...
Chapter 7: Teotihuacan Jihad
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The pageantry of warriors parading across the walls of Teotihuacan and the fantastic deposition of the warrior orders’ motifs within the Pyramid of the Moon bespeak the active and vital role played by the military in the great city. Their social prominence was sufficient to warrant the celebration of their imagery at the city’s largest temples and in its most intimate...
Chapter 8: Fiesta Teotihuacan Style
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Thus far the emphasis has been on architectural and visual mechanisms used by the state to structure a unified ideology for its citizens. The subjects covered have included architectural arrangements and the stylistic components of the architecture. The murals that frequently grace these architectural environments have also served as evidence, as have the painted and carved decorations on ceramics. Sculptural...
Chapter 9: Continuities and Power
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When I began to write my concluding thoughts on Teotihuacan, the funeral procession for former President Ronald Reagan was assembling on our own broad national thoroughfare. Dense crowds packed either side of Constitution Avenue while various members of the military branches positioned themselves on the processional route. A man in a large bearskin hat led the Army band, followed by rows of sailors...
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Page Count: 230
Illustrations: 131 figures
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere