Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was the largest city of the pre-Columbian Americas with over 100,000 inhabitants. It thrived between 100 BC and AD 650, controlling vast expanses of territory and maintaining far-reaching economic relations across Mesoamerica.

Often called the first planned city in the Americas, it marks a turning point when an urban way of life was adopted, a pathway that so many world cultures have chosen. The story of Teotihuacan, the influence that it held and its subsequent demise perhaps hold lessons for the fragility of the urban lifestyle that dominates our world today.

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    Stone mask, 100 BC – AD 650  

    Stone mask

    Masks from Teotihuacan are relatively abundant, although few have been recovered from secure archaeological contexts. This example, with its geometrical cheek pattern, reflects the architectural values that define this urban metropolis. Too heavy to be worn, these masks were probably placed on wooden statues representing powerful ancestors and deities.

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    Ocelot offering vessel, 100 BC - AD 650  

    Ocelot offering vessel

    Dedicatory offerings were often made when laying the foundations of new buildings at Teotihuacan, as well as when constructions were enlarged. Luckily, this has allowed for the superb preservation of associated objects, such as this ocelot-shaped offering vessel.

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    Vessel representing the Storm God, 150 BC - AD 750 Tlaloc  

    Vessel representing the Storm God, Tlaloc

    The Storm or Rain God is a deity encountered across Mesoamerica in cultures as early as the Olmec. It is at Teotihuacan however that this God began to be depicted with ‘goggle’ eyes, which became the distinguishing feature of the renowned Aztec Rain God, Tlaloc. The Tepantitla murals, which survive to this day, depict the role of these deities within Teotihuacan society.

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    Portrait of K'inich Yax K'uk Mo', c. AD 776  

    Portrait of K'inich Yax K'uk Mo'

    This portrait depicts the founding ruler of the Maya city of Copán, K'inich Yax K'uk Mo', who reigned from AD 426-437. The characteristic ‘goggle’ eyes might attest to the extent of Teotihuacan’s stylistic influence across the Mesoamerican world, a topic of much heated debate that has inspired some to say this great Maya ruler actually originated from Teotihuacan.