The greatness of Tula in its area of ​​influence

The Archaeological Site of Tula is located in the city of Tula de Allende in the Mezquital Valley in the State of Hidalgo, 88 km west of the city of Pachuca and 93 km northwest of Mexico City.


According to the Annals of Cuauhtitlan and the Historia Tolteca Chichimeca, among other sources, the term Tula comes from the Nahuatl word tollan, a derivative of Tollin, meaning cane or reed. The word Tula comes from Hispanic pronunciation of the Conquistadors. The god Xicocotitlan invites you to find Xicuco, the hill that is to the north of the area and which was regarded as a sacred mountain. Tula, the place of the tules or reeds, was founded by the king-priest Ce Ácatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl (the Plumed Serpent), an ancient deity which the Toltecs had adopted from earlier cultures and worshiped as the god of Venus.

Indigenous historians and Spanish chroniclers frequently mentioned the character named Quetzalcóatl (meaning beautiful or plumed serpent). Myths describe Quetzalcoatl as the priest-king of Tula and that he never offered human victims, only snakes, birds and butterflies. According to one legend, a rival Toltec deity named Tezcatlipoca (the god of the night sky), drove Quetzalcoatl and his followers out of Tula around 1000 AD. Quezalcoatl then wandered to the coast of the "divine water" (the Atlantic Ocean), where he burned himself on a pyre, later emerging as the planet Venus. According to another version, he embarked upon a raft made of snakes and disappeared beyond the eastern horizon. The Central Mexican written accounts such as the "Legend of the Suns" also mention Quetzalcoatl departing for the Mysterious East at about the same time (948 AD).


The city of Tollán, the Toltec capital, is mentioned in a number of Post-Conquest sources, including Sahagún's (General History of the Things of New Spain ) as well as in indigenous documents known as códices. The Aztecs told the early Spanish missionaries of a city called Tollán where the Toltecs had once lived: "And there was a hill called Tzatzitepetl. It is also just so named today. ... And there dwelt all varieties of birds of precious feather: the lovely cotinga, the resplendent trogon, the touripal, the roseate spoonbill." (Florentine Codex, pg 12). An examination of the written sources and legends of the Aztecs revealed that they were clearly aware of Teotihuacan, another great ruined city, and did not consider this to be the capital of the Toltecs. When questioned on the subject, they indicated the location of another ancient city far to the northwest of their own capital of Tenochititlan.


In 1940, archaeologist Jorge Acosta conducted excavations of the Cerro del Tesoro near the village of Tula de Allende and discovered the architectural remains of the former city of Tollán (now called Tula). Tula began to change and several monumental buildings were built, such as the Pyramid B or Temple Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, on top of which are the Atlantes of Tula, the basalt stone sculptures 4.60 meters in height representing high-ranking Toltec warriors. Originally the Atlanteans could not be seen by the people, as they were placed inside the temple and functioned as columnar roof supports. Other buildings that can be seen today are the Pyramid C, Palacio Quemado, the Building 4 or de Gobernantes, the Juego de Pelota I, the Central Adoratorio of the plaza and Tzompantli.


Its chronology is between 600 and 1150 AD, which time it expanded to an area of almost 16 square kilometers, which included public and private areas, plazas, temples, and palaces and also places of worship, trade, and administration.  At the height of its splendor, Tula had around 60,000 inhabitants who practiced agriculture by means of small systems of dams and canals, since rain was scarce in the area. During the reign of Quetzalcóatl, it was said that Tula’s fertile land produced abundant harvests and the city was visited by merchants bearing valuable materials such as cacao, precious metals, jaguar hide, jade and ceramics from Chiapas and Guatemala. The artisans of Tula were themselves famous for producing some of the most beautiful objects in Mesoamerica, especially those made of the volcanic glass obsidian. Tula also traded with the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá and many Toltec building influences may be found there. Besides continuing restoration within the ceremonial precinct, archaeologists have explored outlying residential areas. Architectural and stylistic correspondences between Tula and several Mayan centers on the north Yucatán peninsula, primarily at the site of Chichén Itzá, indicate that Toltec influence pervaded the area. This influence is believed to stem from splinter groups of Toltec who migrated into the Mayan region and established hegemony in the early Post-Classic period (900-1200 AD).


It would seem that Tula ended in a way similar to Teotihuacan. Around the year 1170, the city and its ceremonial center were ransacked and partially destroyed. The Toltec civilization declined in the 12th century as the Chitimecs and other tribes invaded the central valley and eventually sacked Tula.

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