Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas (Figure 1). The name means where man met the gods. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes; the Avenue of the Dead; and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. Additionally, Teotihuacan produced a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica, as shown in Figure 3.
The city is thought to have been established around 100 BCE and completed about 250 CE. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries CE. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population of perhaps 125,000 or more, placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period (Figure 2).
Teotihuacan began as a new religious center in the Mexican Highland around the first century CE. This city came to be the largest and most populated center in the New World. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population. The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacano.
Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented; evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The Aztecs may have also been influenced by this city. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of Teotihuacan is also a subject of debate. Possible candidates are the Nahua, Otomi, or Totonac ethnic groups. Scholars have also suggested that Teotihuacan was a multiethnic state.
The city and the archaeological site are located in what is now the San Juan Teotihuacan municipality in the State of Mexico, approximately 25 miles northeast of Mexico City.