LA CAIDA DE TEOTIHUACAN -Ana Gaby Perez

Just like every relationship between a man and a woman, the first few months are called the honeymoon stage because both are in love and there seems to be no conflicts. However, time begins to pass and the honeymoon stage begins to fade as problems slowly rise. Teotihuacan was a city that was at its full splendor from 100 to 650 A.C. Its story is so long and interesting, historians had to divide it in 5 different phases. The second to last, known as Phase Xolalpan, is the one in which Teotihuacan reaches its full climax. Its influence expands all across Mesoamerica. “La ciudad llega al máximo de su población, posiblemente unos 125,000 habitantes”.1 Although, some authors claim the population was possibly even higher. These people began to create some amazing architecture, ceramics, and some very interesting beliefs, such as [1]their rituals and idea of living in peace. However, as said before, this honeymoon stage has to end at some point, and so it did. In the middle of the seventh century, Teotihuacan becomes to fall apart and a new phase begins. This phase is recognized as Phase Metepec. Up to today, historians still debate on what the reasons for the decadence of Teotihuacan were. Some believe it had to do with a loss of equilibrium of land control and its agriculture, others believe it was because of the obvious social classes’ separation, while some believe it had to do with invasions and their attempts to escape from violence.2 I believe that the reason for Teotihuacan’s fall was a combination of all three previous reasons, as well as the fact that the habitants were in their own bubble and never thought of all these troubles that could come up.

To begin with, all problems had to begin somewhere. Most historians believe the seed that started the conflicts was with the loss of equilibrium of the land. The citizens of Teotihuacan were so set in the idea of growing as a city that their most important worry after their religion became architecture. They began to cut down many trees for the use of construction of many important buildings, which were probably to be on the Street of the Dead, or to become the starting material of someone’s house, or even for one of the many pyramids from this culture. They also began to use all this wood for fire in their homes, which provided warmth. All these activities seemed fine until a dry period came. “Tenemos ciertas razones para creer que para entonces ya se habrían acabado de desmontar los cerros.”3 This massive loss of forestation with the combination of the dry weather led to irregular rain periods. As part of the chain events going on because of the deforestation as well as all the new constructions, an agricultural crisis began. There was no fertile soil, no rain, and no unused land that could now be taken advantage of for planting. Therefore, the Teotihuacans became dependent of other cities for food and some materials for construction. This led to a social instability in many different ways.

Next of, because of all the economic problems and dependence on other cities, Teotihuacan began to notice its downfall. The economic problems, just as it would cause conflict in any city between the government and the governed, it occurred in Teotihuacan. The governed started to feel taken advantage of or felt fooled, therefore the idea of political and social reforms sounded great to them.4 For obvious reasons, because of these new ideas the government started to lose control and therefore other conflicts rose. While this was happening on the political side, on the social side people had to start to live in apartment houses because of the overpopulation. Not only did this cause a dramatic change in their lives, but “la aglomeración debió causar numerosas fricciones.”5 In response to all these discomforts, military groups began to arise. They were smart enough to take advantage of the government’s weakness at the moment due to the agricultural crisis. These protests and riots came with violence and vandalism. Some violence was towards the elite class, while most was directed towards the buildings.

Hay restos de edificios carbonizados en la Calzada de los Muertos; la Pirámide de la Luna y edificios vecinos sufrieron saqueos y desmantelamientos; el Palacio del Quetzalpapalotl fue incendiado.6

 

Due to all these quarrels, their tie to all the outer cities for trading broke and was most likely the breaking point. The citizens of Teotihuacan were forced to look for safety and they were right to think that the situation in Teotihuacan was not going to get better any time soon.

Consequently, taking notice of how weak and how ruined the structure of the city was, the outer cities started to seek control of places, as well as killing the elite if necessary. To do so, they acted with violence, which was based on burning things and scaring people until they reached the point in which the government had absolutely cero control of the citizens. In order to look for safety and a better future, without being forced into working for the elite, all the people from Teotihuacan began to seek refuge in the outer areas creating satellite cities. Unexpectedly, these people managed to save the economy and part of their culture and created some pretty amazing colonies. “Tula particularmente, que con el tiempo lograron controlar su propia región y área de influencia, escapando del control metropolitano, cada vez mas debilitado.”7 And just like this one, many more cultures arose. 

In conclusion, although still not set in stone, there are many theories about how Teotihuacan came to an end. However, I firmly believe that if the people of Teotihuacan had not been in their unrealistic world thinking everything would always run smoothly, none of these chain events would have happened; and if they did, they would have been most likely prepared to face them. As it is obvious after all my previous points, once they took down all the trees, and faced the slightest problem, their whole culture came down because their only focus was to become a great, powerful, and peaceful culture. It is important people learn from this culture’s fall because many times people are only worried about the present and becoming better that when they are faced with the slightest problem that they were not ready for, their whole world could come tumbling down in a matter of seconds.


[1] LOPEZ AUSTIN, ALFREDO. Teotihuacan. Turner Libros, S.A., México, D.F., 1989. p. 28-29.

2 cfr. DELGADO DE CANTU, GLORIA M. Historia de México 1. 7, Longman de México, México, D.F., 1997. p. 84.

3 “El fin de Teotihuacan”. Nuestro México (Lindo y Querido). Disponible en: http://www.oocities.org/heartland/meadows/2233/teotihuacan_fin.html (26.sep.2012)

4 idem.

7 DELGADO DE CANTU, GLORIA M. Historia de México… op. Cit.

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