Tula (ancient city, Mexico)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Tula (ancient city, Mexico)

Tula (tōō´lä), ancient city in the present state of Hidalgo, central Mexico. It was one of the chief urban centers of the Toltec. The city is believed to be Tollán, the legendary Toltec capital mentioned in a number of postconquest sources, including Bernardino de Sahagún's Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva Espana (tr. General History of the Things of New Spain) as well as in documents in indigenous hieroglyphics known as códices. Archaeological investigations in the ceremonial precinct have revealed impressive architectural remains including pyramidal structures and ball courts. One of the former was surmounted by a temple to the Toltec hero-god Quetzalcoatl and had unusual sculptured columns in the form of warriors. These columns have been restored. Besides continuing restoration within the ceremonial precinct, archaeologists in recent work have explored outlying residential areas. Architectural and stylistic correspondences between Tula and several Mayan centers on the N 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 (AD 900–1200).

See studies in the Handbook of Middle American Indians, ed. by R. Wauchope (13 vol., 1964–73); M. P. Weaver, The Aztecs, Maya, and Their Predecessors (1972); R. A. Diehl, Tula: the Toltec Capital of Ancient Mexico (1983).

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