Toltec Indians


Toltec (tŏl´tĕk), ancient civilization of Mexico. The name in Nahuatl means "master builders." The Toltec formed a warrior aristocracy that gained ascendancy in the Valley of Mexico c.AD 900 after the fall of Teotihuacán. Their early history is obscure but they seem to have had ancient links with the Mixtec and the Zapotec. Their capital was Tollán (see Tula). In architecture and the arts they were masters; they were influenced by Teotihuacán and the Olmec culture. Cholula is considered to be a Toltec site. Toltec civilization was materially far advanced. They smelted metals, and their stonework was highly developed. Their polytheistic religion in later days seems to have centered about Quetzalcoatl. Their ceremonies included human sacrifice, sun worship, and a sacred ball game, tlatchli. They are said to have discovered pulque (a fermented drink), and they had considerable astronomical knowledge, as shown in their calendar cycle of 52 years of 260 days each. A period of southward expansion began c.1000 and resulted in Toltec domination of the Maya of Yucatán from the 11th to the 13th cent. Nomadic peoples (collectively termed the Chichimec) brought about the fall of Tula and of the Toltec empire in the 13th cent., thus opening the way for the rise of the Aztec. See also pre-Columbian art and architecture.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Toltec Indians: Selected full-text books and articles

Aztecs of Mexico: Origin, Rise, and Fall of the Aztec Nation By George C. Vaillant Doubleday, 1962
Librarian's tip: Chap. IV "The Toltecs of Tula"
Ancient Civilizations of the New World By Richard E. W. Adams Westview Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: "Tula and the Toltecs" begins on p. 68
Mexico before Cortez: Art, History, Legend By Ignacio Bernal; Willis Barnstone Doubleday, 1963
Librarian's tip: Chap. VI "The Toltecs"
Ancient Life in Mexico and Central America By Edgar L. Hewett Biblo and Tannen, 1968
Librarian's tip: "The Ancient Aztec-Toltec Land" begins on p. 67
The Ancient Americas: A Brief History and Guide to Research By Hanns J. Prem; Kornelia Kurbjuhn University of Utah Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: "The Toltecs of the Report" begins on p. 21 and "Post-Toltec History of Central Mexico" begins on p. 148
The History of Mexico By Burton Kirkwood Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: "Toltec Civilization" begins on p. 23
The Art and Architecture of Ancient America: The Mexican, Maya, and Andean Peoples By George Kubler Penguin Books, 1962
Librarian's tip: Chap. 9 "From the Toltec Maya to the Spaniards"
Primitive Art By Erwin O. Christensen Thomas Y. Crowell, 1955
Librarian's tip: "Toltec Art" begins on p. 204
Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica By C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky; Jeremy A. Sabloff Benjamin/Cummings, 1979
Librarian's tip: "The Toltecs" begins on p. 295
Mexico By Michael D. Coe Frederick A. Praeger, 1962
Librarian's tip: "Tula and the Toltecs" begins on p. 134
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