Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pictures from Mexico City: Second batch

(First batch here.)

Actually, these come from Teotihuacan, the thousand-year-old, 83-sq.-km. archeological site about a half-hour to the northeast of the city. In this pic, you see Yours Truly half-way down a short but still vertigo-inducing incline at the temple dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, one of the smaller pyramids there. Click on the images to enlarge them.

I ask you: what is it with Meso-Americans and their love of pyramid stairs pitched at 60-degree inclines, with high risers and narrow treads?

Below the fold: a close-up of some steps showing their construction, and a shot of this same construction method as used for a wall.

Note the smaller rocks embedded in the mortar holding the larger stones in place.


Doc said...

"I ask you: what is it with ... their love of pyramid stairs pitched at 60-degree inclines, with high risers and narrow treads?"

...keeps your mind off the priest with his obsidian knife at the top, doesn't it?

; ' )

John B. said...


Actually, now that you mention it, it occurs to me that the pitch would indeed have aided in ensuring the bodies' downward descent once the priests had finished with them.

If there's a problem with that theory, though, it's that, according to our guide that day, so far as is known the Teotihuatecos didn't practice human sacrifice. The Aztecs, however, on their migratory journey from the north, did take up residence at the already-long-abandoned Teotihuacan for a while before moving on to the Valley of Mexico in the 14th century. They may have picked up some architectural pointers while hanging out there. I don't know, off the top of my head, if the Toltecs (the other people who influenced the Aztecs) did; it's now known that the Maya did, though, and the Aztecs certainly knew about them.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the new idea the Aztecs brought to the region was that their sun god, Huitzilopochtli, required human sacrifices to fuel it--this led to the Aztecs waging warfare on their neighbors for the sole purpose of capturing people to serve as those sacrifices (and, not coincidentally, smoothed the way for Cortés to form alliances with these other groups in his quest to conquer Tenochtitlan).