Toltec Civilization Research Paper

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The Priest stood atop the temple of the Sun, looking down on his people gathered for this event. With one Swift motion, he raised the sacrificial obsidian sticker and plunged it into the immature adult male’s chest, rupturing out his bosom. He so placed the bosom on the waiting chac-mool, smiled, and anounced the beginning of jubilation. The Toltecs were one of the first “ Nahuatl ” talking civilizations to colonise cardinal Mexico. It is ill-defined whether they came from the North or the South, but, popular theory is that they came from the North ( Southern America ). The folk foremost settled a little distance West of what is now Mexico City. There, they built the largest metropolis of all time in Mexico, even shadowing today’s Mexico City ( von Hagen, Sun, pp. 20, 29 ) ! The Toltecs ruled over this town from 200 B.C to 900 A.D ( Sabloff, p. 112 ). Then, something forced them to go forth ; clime alteration, aliens, a war, cipher knows. The Toltecs so migrated about 50 stat mis North. There, they settled and began to construct the town called Tula ( Gruzinski, p. 14 ). They resided at that place until 1100 A.D ( Sabloff, p. 112 ). In around 987 A.D or so, the Toltec priest- male monarch Quezalcoatl ( who was really a God. There are besides records of a adult male named Topiltzin who seemingly followed the same class as Quetzalcoatl. It was ill-defined who was who, or if they were the same individual. ) was forced to fly with a few of his followings ( Gruzinski, p. 14 ). He fled to the Yucatan peninsula, where the Mayas resided. He so proceeded to construct a mammoth metropolis called Chichen Itza ( von Hagen, Maya, p 39 ).

Here, we switch to Mayan history, which discusses the leading of a adult male called Kukulcan, which means “ feathered-serpent, ” or Quetzalcoatl ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 332 ). He ruled over this civilization for some clip, so he decided to go forth. Again, there is no grounds stating why he left. On the twelvemonth 1-Reed ( a Toltec step of clip ) , he set canvas West in the Atlantic ocean, with the prophesy that he would return on the return of that day of the month ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 28 ).

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Meanwhile, back in Tula, things were disintegrating in the Toltec civilization. Their society was going increasingly militant, as was evidenced in their art. They began perverting political power and going greedy for money. They raped the villagers with revenue enhancements utilizing the Gods as their athority ( Townsend, p. 49-50 ). This brought about a civil war which thouroughly destroyed the Toltecs ( Gruzinski, p.15 ). Yes, the Toltec people decidedly practiced human forfeit. Immediately, one thinks what the Spaniards thought when they observed the Aztecs executing the same ritual 600 old ages subsequently: “ Savages! ”

In this paper, I will seek to convert you why you should non see the Toltecs barbarians, but see them the prototype of civilisation. If I am to turn out this to you, we must hold an apprehension of what the word “ civilisation ” agencies. There are two traits that I think are needed for a functional society. These two traits are be aftering, and the group over the 1. I will explicate each of these in bend, but foremost, I will speak about one other thought. This thought is non a trait of civilised civilizations, but is more of a method to look into the effectivity of the civilization’s patterns. Does the civilized people’s ways work for other groups of people?

If a civilization is civilized, it would follow that another group of people, following that civilization’s ways, would go civilised themselves. I think this is an clever method to look into the workability of the civilisation. If the civilised people’s ways would non work for person else, it would be difficult to name them civilized. The Toltecs supply a rare chance to witness this in action. They touched about every Mexican civilisation that came after them. Subsequently in this paper, I will demo you two of them: the Maya and the Aztecs. A by-product of a civilisation is engineering. The chief intent of conveying Forth a civilisation is to do life better. What engineering does is do life easier. A good illustration of this is the wheel.

The wheel is considered the most of import innovation in history. The ground it was invented, it seems, was to do the motion of big, heavier objects easier. It, hence, makes life easier. Technological promotions of this sort do non happen of course without the aid of civilised heads. One trait, about entirely exhibited by civilised societies, is the thought that the group is more of import than the 1. If one picks about any civilisation that of all time originate on the planet, one will see this trait. The lone topographic point that I have seen where this is non true is in early European monarchies.

A twosome of Europe’s monarchies were wholly right ; the male monarch or queen truly cared about the people. But, in most that I have learned about, the sovereign cared merely for themselves, and deriving power. One must look at the slaughter they have waged upon every other civilisation on Earth, particularly in the Americas. Puting the group before the one is evidently a needed feature for any civilisation to last. As I will demo you, non merely did the Toltecs excell in engineering and stress the group, but they besides taught two other tribes how to go civilised.


In Aztec, “ Toltec ” means “ builder ” ( Tomkins, p. 20 ). This was no happenstance. When the Aztecs rewrote history, they attributed to the Toltecs the innovation of picture, literature, sculpture, uranology, and architecture ( Gruzinski, p. 14 ). In Aztec civilization, a maestro craftsman of any type was called Toltec, which was the highest signifier of compliment ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 29 ). What stands out most in Toltec engineering has to be its architecture. Their first major metropolis was Teotihuacan, located a twosome of stat mis east of what is now Mexico City. Teotihuacan was by far the greatest metropolis in all Mexico, as it is still the largest. It was built around 200 B.C. and occupied by Toltecs for about 1100 old ages until 900 A.D. , when they were forced out by unknown forces ( Sabloff, p. 112 ). The first characteristic the visitant to Teotihuacan notices is the Sun Temple, the largest pyramid in Mexico, even equaling Egyptian pyramids. This poses an interesting inquiry: are they related? The pyramid is 216 ft. high and screens about 10 estates. It was built utilizing a stepped-wall architecture, which is what all subsequent pyramids were based on ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 31 ).

An interesting find about this pyramid is that it appears to hold been built in phases. A series of 6 smaller pyramids have been found underneath the outer shell ( Tompkins, p. 334 ). The pyramid was likely used for ceremonial intents, as is evidenced by the stalking figure of chac-mool. The chac-mool is a statue reclining in a semi-situp place. The caput, which is held upward, faces off from its tummy, where it holds a dish. On this dish were placed newly lacerate human Black Marias ( Sabloff, p. 112 ). The temple shows an overall sense of planning. Could such a chef-d’oeuvre been erected by even an ground forces of crude people? Merely big graduated table planning could hold acomplished this, which can be seen in Teotihuacan’s three other big constructions: the Moon temple, the temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the priest-king’s castle ( von Hagen, Aztec, p. 39 ).

Planing on a much grander graduated table can easy be seen if looking at the metropolis as a whole. First, seemingly every square pes of the metropolis was paved. Alternatively of reinventing concrete for the Romans, though, the Toltecs used little rocks and a type of howitzer. No little undertaking ( Tompkins, p. 189 ). Through the centre of the metropolis there is a wholly consecutive route running the length of the metropolis North and South. At the North terminal is the Moon Temple, and at the other terminal is the castle and temple of Quetzalcoatl. In the centre, confronting west, is the Sun Temple. They are all equally spaced ( von Hagen, Aztec, p. 39 ).

Even the houses of the common people show a sense of intent. They are equally laid out in subdivisions coming off the chief route. Each house itself was functionally laid out with different suites set up for different things ( Tompkins, p. 189 ). The most cryptic thing about the metropolis was its devastation. The whole metropolis was buried under soil, even the massive Sun temple! After delving up some edifices, a digger named Leopoldo Batres noticed that they appeared to hold been burned. this firing would back up the thought that some foreign folk forced them out. But Bateres noticed one other little item that says something different. The entombment of some of the smaller edifices was done in a curious fasion: the insides were filled with neatly piled rocks suit together with cement. This raises yet another interesting inquiry: did the Toltecs destruct their ain metropolis? If this is true, it would merely be more grounds of their civilised nature, as no barbarian group of people could hold planned or accomplished this effort ( Tompkins, p. 189 ).

Other grounds of technological art comes in the signifier of little finds, one of which was used in agriculture. Teotihuacan posed a job for agriculture, as the whole metropolis was paved. Its location besides posed a job: it was built following to no beginning of H2O. It had to invariably import H2O from the nearby lake Texcoco. The Toltecs solved this job in a alone manner: They brought the harvests to the H2O. The Toltecs were Masterss of art and weaving, so they used this accomplishment to assist them in their agricultural job. They wove big baskets ( 15 ft. in diameter ) and filled them with peat moss. They would so works their harvests in these and float them in organic structures of H2O. This clever method could merely hold been thought up through the cooperation of many heads ( Burland, p. 40 ). One unusual turn of this Toltec mastermind is one that should hold stunted their ain growing: they did non utilize wheels. There is about unanumous understanding that this was possibly the most of import innovation in the history of world. Archeologists have found wheels in merely one little topographic point in Toltec civilization: plaything. They seemingly ne’er used wheels in any type of labour or trucking. It is about as if the thought had ne’er occured to them ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 113 ).

There may be a logical and simple reply to this enigma. Before the reaching of the Spaniards, there were no Equus caballuss in the Americas. The Toltecs no battalion animate beings. If they had passenger cars with wheels made to draw heavy weight, who would draw them? The logical reply to this 1 would be people, or more specifically, slaves. This deficiency of wheels ( if we attribute this to deficiency of battalion animate beings ) would look to state that either the Toltecs did non believe of utilizing their slaves to draw the load, or, they had no slaves. If I had a slave, the first thing I would do them make is transport my things, and I sould think that the Toltecs were every bit smart as I am. So that leaves one option: the Toltecs did non hold slaves. ( the remainder of this is my ain sentiment )

Why did the Toltecs non maintain slaves? They were surely capable of deriving them. There is grounds that in their wars, they did take captives ; but, these captives were used about entirely for forfeit. I think that this shows a certain regard for human life, decidedly a civilised trait. Toltec Life Human life was extremely respected in Toltec civilization. One might believe the antonym because, as stated earlier, the Toltecs practiced human forfeit. This may sound like they hold no feelings for life, but see this.

The ground Toltecs ( every bit good as any civilization ) make any sort of offering to the Gods is to hold them look favourably upon their people. The ultimate gift for anyone would be one’s ain life. If you offer a human life to a God, you are giving what means most to you. Human life meant a batch to thge Toltecs, which is why they offered it to the Gods. Since the greatest gift you can give is life, I will speak about birth. When a female parent gives birth, it is about a gay juncture. Immediately after birth, an go toing accoucheuse congradulates the female parent for holding fought a good conflict and for holding “ captured ” a babe. She so speaks to the kid as she would an esteemed, weary traveller, and asks it to remainder among its parents ( Townsend, p. 156 ). When the Indian was born, he/she became portion of a group of households who owned a piece of land. When it was clip for matrimony, the adult male would be given his ain piece of land to populate off. He built his house on the land and was expected to farm it. If, for any ground, the adult male did non work the land, it would be taken back by the kin ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 36 ).

The feminist ideal seemed to be traveling strong at this clip, as is shown by failed matrimonies. Divorces were non unheard of in Toltec civilization. If the adult male was non making his occupation or back uping his household, the adult female could hold a divorce arranged and be remarried to a more ablebodied adult male. Of class, if the adult female was unable to bring forth kids, the adult male could besides set up a divorce ( von Hagen, World, p. 35 ).

An interesting contrast between Toltecs and another “ civilized ” civilization, early Europeans, has to make with single position in the society. In Europe, the people were divided by categories. They could non alter what category the were born into, but were stuck for life. In the Toltec manner of life, the people were divided by rank. An Indian, when Born, was considered an Indian, nil else. This was independant of what rank the parents held. Indians were put into political places becauseof their virtue, non their position ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 36 ). This shows a cardinal point of view in Toltec civilization. the folk as a whole was more of import than any one adult male. This construct went even every bit deep as their instruction. From birth, an Indian was taught to work and to go a benificial member of society ( Townsend, p. 156 ). These are the traits of a extremely civilised society. Merely a society which has the “ Group over One ” mindset can turn to the advanced phase of cultural development that the Toltecs achieved.

Maya and Aztec

The Toltecs had an consequence on all Mexican civilisations. In this subdivision, I will depict the effects the Toltecs had on two major Mexican folk: the Maya and the Aztecs. I will get down with the Maya. The Maya were a peaceable civilization life in some little towns South of the Yucatan. At this clip they had non developed a system of authorship, so archaeologists had to infer greatly from their art ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 120 ). Around 900 A.D. , the Mayan peoples began the “ Great Descent, ” in which they moved off from the metropoliss and into the Yucatan. During this clip, the Mayan civilization sunk to an all clip low ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 120 ). Soon after the Great Descent, a adult male and his followings arived in the Yucatan. This adult male taught the Maya his cognition and reconstruct the derelict Maya metropolis Chichen Itza. This began the Mayan Renaissance. They developed their ain authorship system and their ain manner of archetecture ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 332 ).

In clip, the adult male who came from the West built the Maya capitol, Mayapan. The Maya adopted this adult male as their male monarch and savior, naming him Kukulcan, which, in Maya, agencies “ feathered snake ” ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 332 ). Many similarities between the Mayan metropolis Chichen Itza and the Toltec’s Tula give more grounds for this narrative. Before I show you these similarities, though, I will give a short description of each metropolis.

After go forthing Teotihuacan, the Toltecs moved north about 50 stat mis. There, they built the metropolis of Tula. Tula seems to hold been built because of the demand of a metropolis, as there seems to hold been much less be aftering involved than at Teotihuacan. There is none of the elegant symmetricalness like that shown at Teotihuacan. The houses were laid out in a really hapazard mode ; room layout was non planned at all. The lone planning that seems to have taken topographic point was in the temples, castle and ball tribunals ( Sabloff, pp. 192-193 ). After it was built, Tula, or the legendary Tollan, as the Aztecs called it, embodied all that was great in Teotihuacan, and more. No 1 showed the grandeour better than the Spanish monastic Bernardo de Sahagun when he described Tula as holding “ rich castles of green jade and white and ruddy shell, where the ears of maize and Cucurbita pepos reached the size of a adult male, where cotton grew in the works in all colorss and the air was filled with rare birds of cherished plume … ” ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 30 ). Truly, this was a antic topographic point. About the same thing could be said about Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza was a reasonably sized metropolis, but was the centre of Mayan civilization at the clip of its tallness. The major edifice in Chichen Itza is the temple of Kukulkan. From this construction, al things radiate. From the forepart runs a big ceremonial paseo, which leads to a big good, called a cenote. Into this was thrown treasures and gems and other cherished points. Sacrificial victims were besides thrown in ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 168 ). To the right of the temple is a big tribunal in which they played the great ball game, Pok-a-tok. The game was non unlike hoops, in that the participants had to acquire a gum elastic ball into a hoop, even though that hoop was 30 ft high and perpendicular. The participants could merely utilize their elbws or hips. This was a large event, equaling a forfeit, and the witnesss bet to a great extent ( von Hagen, Sun, 162 ).

To the left lay the temple of the Warriors, which contained the local market. To the rear lay the remains of the old metropolis ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 168 ). The similarities are difficult to lose when seeing the two of them. The easiest illustration to see are the temples. Both the temple of Kukulkan and the temple of Tula are built in the signifier of the abbreviated pyramid. A abbreviated pyramid has four sides with each side looking like a big stairway. Each Temple has a staircase on each of the four sides and an enclosed construction at the top ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 195 ).

The temple of the Warriors was built in the same fasion, but had two similar characteristics found nowhere outside of Toltec influence. On the outskirts of both temples, there are 100s of equally separated pillars used to keep up wooden roof beams. Merely the temple of the Warriors and the temple of Tula had those. The other characteristically Toltec characteristic on both temples are the chac-mools. Both chac-mools are about precisely the same except for different facial characteristics ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 195 ). Another characteristic similar about the two citiex is their art. In Tula, many motives have been found picturing processing panthers and bird of Joves. That really same thing has been found in Chichen Itza ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 196 ).

Possibly the most of import piece of information has to make with Quetzalcoatl. Earlier, I said that he traveled to Yucatan. This is non precisely true. This has been infered by some dry historical events. First, about 987 A.D, Quetzalcoatl was said to hold left Tula. At about the same clip in Mayan history, the adult male named Kukulkan arived in the Yucatan. The Mayas loved him so much that they made him their male monarch. Kukulkan so proceeded to learn them his civilization. While he was making this, the Mayas went through their won Renaissance and their civilization was restarted. No uncertainty Kukulkan had something to make with this ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 332 ).

Let us seek a simple thought experiment. The Mayas are considered by archaeologists to hold been civilized. I do non hold the clip, nor the infinite to turn out this, so we will take it as a fact. The Mayas became civilized after Kukulkan taught them his ways. It would follow that Kukulkan, himself, was civilized. Therefore, since he was originally Toltec, this would do the Toltecs, themselves, civilized. The Aztecs were by far the most popular civilisation of all time to originate in Mexico. Most of the histories of the Toltecs came frome them. They held the Toltecs in the highest regard, even establishing their ain civilization on them.

When the Aztecs moved in around lake Texcoco, they found the ruins of Teotihuacan and other little metropoliss. They were in awe of the technological degree of the builders and gave them the name “ Toltec, ” which means “ builder ” or “ creative person ” ( Tompkins, p. 20 ). They so burned all the historical records and wrote their ain, seting the Toltecs in the paramount place. They believed they were the posterities of the Toltecs ( von Hagen, Aztec, p. 39 ).

Looking at the architecture, art, imposts, and faith of the Aztecs, one discoveries about perfect simularity. The Aztecs took about every thing from the Toltecs. They built the same manner temples, had the same Gods, used the same artistic manner, and performed the same human forfeit rites. One even finds the familiar chac-mool atop many of the temples. The Toltec civilization was so great that, non merely did it go throughout Mexico, but besides traveled beyond the grave.


Not merely did the Toltecs stress the group and excell in engineering, but they besides taught two folks to go civilised. Stressing the group is a cardinal factor in civilised civilizations. If everyone in a group works for themselves, they are restricting their ain promotion. But, if they all work for the group, the group will thrive and turn. Technology is a necessary by-product of civilisation. When people come up with thoughts that will benifit the group, the thoughts normally take the signifier of innovations. When people work in groups, the single thoughts of the people travel through the coevalss. These two actions, when done together, consequence in useable engineering that benifits all. The Toltec ideals for society worked for both the Maya and the Aztecs. These civilizations grew to be the two most good known civilisations in Mexico. This says a batch for the Toltecs. It says that the Toltecs were the male parents of civilisation. When Cortez landed in the thick of the Aztecs, what he was witnessing was the digesting Toltec civilization. He so saw a human forfeit and decided the destiny of these barbarian people. A civilised civilization is one that does non destruct every other civilization because of different beliefs. One must inquire, which is more civilised: human forfeit or race murder.

One little choice morsel about day of the months. When Quetzalcoatl sailed off to the West, he left the Mayas with a prophesy. “ On the return of this day of the month, 1-Reed, I will return to Mexico. ” I was inquiring if Quetzalcoatl of all time did return and did some research on the topic. Looking at the day of the months, I made a startling find. The twelvemonth 1-Reed falls on the twelvemonth 1512, the twelvemonth Cortez landed in Mexico. This was a haunting disclosure, and can be interpreted in many ways. One can state that it was happenstance, but I don’t take to believe so. I think Quetzalcoatl knew what he was stating, but encrypted the message. I think he cognize what was traveling to go on…


  1. History of the World. Bureau Development, Inc. , 1992. Burland, C. A. The Gods of Mexico. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967: 32, 34, 40.
  2. Gruzinski, Serge. The Aztecs- Rise and Fall of an Empire. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc. , 1992: 14, 15.
  3. Sabloff, Jeremy A. The Cities of Ancient Mexico. New York, New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. , 1989: 108, 112, 192, 193.
  4. Tompkins, Peter. Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids. New York: Harper & A ; Row, Inc. , 1976: 20, 189, 334.
  5. Townsend, Richard F. The Aztecs. New York: Thames & A ; Hudson Inc. , 1992: 46, 49, 50, 156.

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