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Site History

The Toltecs swept into the central valleys of Mexico from the north around 750 AD and by 950 AD had established an empire that would last around 200 years. Some historians believe it was an attack by this semi-barbaric tribe that felled the mighty city of Teotihuacan, whose influence was severely waning by this point. Despite their pseudo-savage roots, the Toltecs would ironically be later revered by their successors, the Aztecs, as the inventors of all art and culture.


Tula was founded by Ce Acatl Topiltzin (“Prince One Reed” in Nauhatl: the name refers to his birth year), crown prince and high priest of the cult of Quetzalcoatl. Known as a peaceful ruler, he wasn’t as into human sacrifice as followers of the rival god Tezcatlipoca (the Toltecs supreme deity) believed he should be. This combined with his devotion to the feathered snake god, whose name he confidently adopted and image can today be seen all over Tula, led to all sorts of trickery and intrigue which eventually forced Topiltzin/Quetzalcoatl into exile to the Yucatan. There, it is said, he promptly invaded Chichen Itza and sent back word to Tula prophesying his return from the east in one of the recurring Ce Acatl years. The Aztecs unfortunately took this legend to heart, with dire consequences when they applied it to the invading Spaniards 500 years later.


Evidence suggests Tula was a heavily militaristic society, with human sacrifice practiced on a huge scale and the knightly orders of the Jaguar and Eagle warriors established. It was only around 16 square kilometers in size, with an estimated population of 30,000-60,000, making it smaller than both Teotihuacan before it and Tenochtitlan after. However Tula’s influence is believed to have stretched far, with Toltec style artifacts being found as far away as Guatemala and the southwest U.S.

30 Apr 2009

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