Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage: From Teotihuacan to the Aztecs

Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage: From Teotihuacan to the Aztecs

Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage: From Teotihuacan to the Aztecs

Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage: From Teotihuacan to the Aztecs


For more than a millennium the great Mesoamerican city of Teotihucan (c150BCE--750CE) has been imagined and reimagined by a host of subsequent cultures including our own. This book engages the subject of the unity and diversity of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica by focusing on the classic heritage of this ancient city. Includes the history of religions, anthropology, archaeology, and art history -- and a wealth of new data, this book examines Teotihuacan's rippling influence across Mesoamerican time and space, including important patterns of continuity and change, and its relationships, both historical and symbolic, with Tenochtitlan, Cholula, and various Maya communities.


Alfredo López Austin

Leonardo López Luján

Scott Sessions

To Mariana

The transformation from the classic to the postclassic

Perspectives on the transition

Three decades ago, there was no great discussion about distinguishing the Classic period from the Postclassic. Scholars at that time supposed a sudden transformation from peaceful societies ruled by priests to forms of secular and militaristic organization. This schematic view has given way in our day to the realization that the historical reality is far more complex. the differences between both periods, though still recognized, are less clear, especially if one takes into account the recent discoveries of the bellicose character of the cities of the Classic, the expansionist ambitions of their leaders, and the widespread practice of human sacrifice. Moreover, today we are becoming aware of the great diversity of paths that Mesoamerican societies followed in the twilight of the Classic period, in the transformation occurring between 650 and 900 C.E., and in the subsequent centuries preceding the arrival of Europeans. This leads us to inquire about the general historical processes of the Postclassic in conjunction with regional and temporal particularities within the overall setting.

Various friends and colleagues assisted us in the elaboration of this work, offering materials, criticisms, and valuable suggestions. We want to particularly thank Elizabeth H. Boone, Davíd Carrasco, Michel Graulich, Alicia Hernández, Lindsay Jones, Rex Koontz, Geoffrey McCafferty, Federico Navarrete, Xavier Noguez, Guilhem Olivier, Scott Sessions, and Karl Taube. This essay is a summarized version of our book, Mito y realidad de Zuyuá: Serpiente Emplumada y las transformaciones mesoamericanas del Clásico al Posclásico, Fideicomiso Historia de las Américas, Serie Ensayos (Mexico: El Colegio de México/FCE, 1999).

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