Toltec Civilization Essay, Research Paper

Toltec CivilizationThe Priest stood atop the temple of the Sun, looking down on his people gatheredfor this event. With one Swift motion, he raised the sacrificial obsidian sticker andplunged it into the immature adult male & # 8217 ; s chest, rupturing out his bosom. He so placed the bosom onthe waiting chac-mool, smiled, and anounced the beginning of jubilation. The Toltecs were one of the first & # 8220 ; Nahuatl & # 8221 ; talking civilizations to colonise centralMexico. It is ill-defined whether they came from the North or the South, but, popular theoryis that they came from the North ( Southern America ) . The folk foremost settled a smalldistance West of what is now Mexico City. There, they built the largest metropolis of all time inMexico, even shadowing today & # 8217 ; s Mexico City ( von Hagen, Sun, pp. 20, 29 ) ! The Toltecsruled over this town from 200 B.C to 900 A.D ( Sabloff, p. 112 ) . Then, something forcedthem to go forth ; clime alteration, aliens, a war, cipher knows. The Toltecs so migrated about 50 stat mis North. There, they settled and began tobuild 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 agod. There are besides records of a adult male named Topiltzin who seemingly followed the samecourse 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 Yucatanpeninsula, where the Mayas resided. He so proceeded to construct a mammoth metropolis calledChichen Itza ( von Hagen, Maya, p 39 ) . Here, we switch to Mayan history, which discusses the leading of a adult male calledKukulcan, which means & # 8220 ; feathered-serpent, & # 8221 ; or Quetzalcoatl ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 332 ) .He ruled over this civilization for some clip, so he decided to go forth. Again, there is noevidence stating why he left. On the twelvemonth 1-Reed ( a Toltec step of clip ) , he set sailWest in the Atlantic ocean, with the prophesy that he would return on the return ofthat day of the month ( von Hagen, Sun, p. 28 ) . Meanwhile, back in Tula, things were disintegrating in the Toltec civilization. Theirsociety was going increasingly militant, as was evidenced in their art. They begancorrupting political power and going greedy for money. They raped the villagers withtaxes utilizing the Gods as their athority ( Townsend, p. 49-50 ) . This brought about a civilwar which thouroughly destroyed the Toltecs ( Gruzinski, p.15 ) . Yes, the Toltec people decidedly practiced human forfeit. Immediately, onethinks what the Spaniards thought when they observed the Aztecs executing the sameritual 600 old ages subsequently: & # 8220 ; Savages! & # 8221 ; In this paper, I will seek to convert you why you should non see the Toltecssavages, but see them the prototype of civilisation. If I am to turn out this to you, wemust have an apprehension of what the word & # 8220 ; civilisation & # 8221 ; means. There are two traits that I think are needed for a functional society. These twotraits are be aftering, and the group over the 1. I will explicate each of these in bend, butfirst, I will speak about one other thought. This thought is non a trait of civilised civilizations, but ismore of a method to look into the effectivity of the civilization & # 8217 ; s patterns. Does the civilizedpeople & # 8217 ; s ways work for other groups of people? If a civilization is civilized, it would follow that another group of people, followingthat civilization & # 8217 ; s ways, would go civilised themselves. I think this is an ingeniousmethod to look into the workability of the civilisation. If the civilised people & # 8217 ; s ways wouldnot work for person else, it would be difficult to name them civilized. The Toltecs supply a rare chance to witness this in action. They touchedalmost every Mexican civilisation that came after them. Subsequently in this paper, I will showyou two of them: the Maya and the Aztecs. A by-product of a civilisation is engineering. The chief intent of conveying forth acivilization is to do life better. What engineering does is do life easier. A goodexample of this is the wheel. The wheel is considered the most of import innovation in history. The ground it wasinvented, it seems, was to do the motion of big, heavier objects easier. It, hence, makes life easier. Technological promotions of this sort do non occurnaturally without the aid of civilised heads. One trait, about entirely exhibited by civilised societies, is the thought that thegroup is more of import than the 1. If one picks about any civilisation that of all time aroseon the planet, one will see this trait. The lone topographic point that I have seen where this is non trueis in early European monarchies. A twosome of Europe & # 8217 ; s monarchies were wholly right ; the male monarch or queen truly caredabout the people. But, in most that I have learned about, the sovereign cared merely forthemselves, and deriving power. One must look at the slaughter they have waged uponevery other civilisation on Earth, particularly in the Americas. Puting the group before theone is evidently a needed feature for any civilisation to last. As I will demo you, non merely did the Toltecs excell in engineering and emphasizethe group, but they besides taught two other tribes how to go civilised. TechnologyIn Aztec, & # 8220 ; Toltec & # 8221 ; means & # 8220 ; builder & # 8221 ; ( Tomkins, p. 20 ) . This was no coincidence.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, amaster 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 firstmajor 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. Itwas 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 largestpyramid 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 usinga stepped-wall architecture, which is what all subsequent pyramids were based on ( vonHagen, Sun, p. 31 ) . An interesting find about this pyramid is that it appears to hold been built instages. 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 thehaunting 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. Onthis 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 beenerected by even an ground forces of crude people? Merely big graduated table planning could haveacomplished this, which can be seen in Teotihuacan & # 8217 ; s three other big constructions: theMoon temple, the temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the priest-king & # 8217 ; s castle ( von Hagen, Aztec, P. 39 ) . Planing on a much grander graduated table can easy be seen if looking at the metropolis as awhole. First, seemingly every square pes of the metropolis was paved. Alternatively of reinventingconcrete for the Romans, though, the Toltecs used little rocks and a type of howitzer. Nosmall undertaking ( Tompkins, p. 189 ) . Through the centre of the metropolis there is a wholly consecutive route running thelength of the metropolis North and South. At the North terminal is the Moon Temple, and at theother terminal is the castle and temple of Quetzalcoatl. In the centre, confronting west, is the SunTemple. They are all equally spaced ( von Hagen, Aztec, p. 39 ) . Even the houses of the common people show a sense of intent. They are evenlylaid out in subdivisions coming off the chief route. Each house itself was functionally laidout with different suites set up for different things ( Tompkins, p. 189 ) . The most cryptic thing about the metropolis was its devastation. The whole metropolis wasburied under soil, even the massive Sun temple! After delving up some edifices, adigger named Leopoldo Batres noticed that they appeared to hold been burned. thisburning would back up the thought that some foreign folk forced them out. But Bateres noticed one other little item that says something different. Theburial of some of the smaller edifices was done in a curious fasion: the insides werefilled with neatly piled rocks suit together with cement. This raises yet another interestingquestion: did the Toltecs destruct their ain metropolis? If this is true, it would merely be moreevidence of their civilised nature, as no barbarian group of people could hold planned oraccomplished this effort ( Tompkins, p. 189 ) . . Other grounds of technological art comes in the signifier of little finds, one of which was used in farming. Teotihuacan posed a job for agriculture, as the whole metropolis was paved. Itslocation besides posed a job: it was built following to no beginning of H2O. It had toconstantly import H2O from the nearby lake Texcoco. The Toltecs solved this problemin 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 themin their agricultural job. They wove big baskets ( 15 ft. in diameter ) and filled themwith peat moss. They would so works their harvests in these and float them in organic structures ofwater. This clever method could merely hold been thought up through the cooperationof many heads ( Burland, p. 40 ) . One unusual turn of this Toltec mastermind is one that should hold stunted their owngrowth: they did non utilize wheels. There is about unanumous understanding that this wasperhaps the most of import innovation in the history of world. Archeologists have foundwheels in merely one little topographic point in Toltec civilization: plaything. They seemingly ne’er used wheelsin any type of labour or trucking. It is about as if the thought had ne’er occured to them ( vonHagen, Sun, p. 113 ) . There may be a logical and simple reply to this enigma. Before the reaching of theSpaniards, there were no Equus caballuss in the Americas. The Toltecs no battalion animate beings. If theyhad passenger cars with wheels made to draw heavy weight, who would draw them? The logicalanswer 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 saythat either the Toltecs did non believe of utilizing their slaves to draw the load, or, they hadno slaves. If I had a slave, the first thing I would do them make is transport my things, and Isould think that the Toltecs were every bit smart as I am. So that leaves one option: the Toltecsdid non hold slaves. ( the remainder of this is my ain sentiment ) Why did the Toltecs non maintain slaves? They were surely capable of gainingthem. There is grounds that in their wars, they did take captives ; but, these prisonerswere used about entirely for forfeit. I think that this shows a certain regard forhuman life, decidedly a civilised trait. Toltec LifeHuman life was extremely respected in Toltec civilization. One might believe the oppositebecause, as stated earlier, the Toltecs practiced human forfeit. This may sound like theyhave 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 beone & # 8217 ; s ain life. If you offer a human life to a God, you are giving what means most toyou. Human life meant a batch to thge Toltecs, which is why they offered it to the Gods. Since the greatest gift you can G.I.

ve is life, I will talk about birth. When a mothergives birth, it is almost a festive occasion. Immediately after birth, an attending midwifecongradulates the mother for having fought a good battle and for having “captured” ababy. She then speaks to the child as she would an honored, weary traveler, and asks it torest among its parents (Townsend, p. 156). When the indian was born, he/she became part of a group of families who owned apiece of land. When it was time for marriage, the man would be given his own piece ofland to live off. He built his house on the land and was expected to farm it. If, for anyreason, the man did not work the land, it would be taken back by the clan (von Hagen,Sun, p. 36). The feminist ideal seemed to be going strong at this time, as is shown by failedmarriages. Divorces were not unheard of in Toltec culture. If the man was not doing hisjob or supporting his family, the woman could have a divorce arranged and be remarriedto a more ablebodied man. Of course, if the woman was unable to produce children, theman could also arrange a divorce (von Hagen, World, p. 35). An interesting contrast between Toltecs and another “civilized” culture, earlyEuropeans, has to do with individual status in the society. In Europe, the people weredivided by classes. They could not change what class the were born into, but were stuckfor life. In the Toltec way of life, the people were divided by rank. An Indian, when born,was considered an Indian, nothing else. This was independant of what rank the parentsheld. Indians were put into political positions becauseof their merit, not their status (vonHagen, Sun, p. 36). This shows a fundamental viewpoint in Toltec culture. the tribe as a whole wasmore important than any one man. This concept went even as deep as their education.From birth, an Indian was taught to work and to become a benificial member of society(Townsend, p. 156). These are the traits of a highly civilized society. Only a society which has the”Group over One” mindset can grow to the advanced stage of cultural development thatthe Toltecs achieved. Maya and AztecThe Toltecs had an effect on all Mexican civilizations. In this section, I willdescribe the effects the Toltecs had on two major Mexican tribes: the Maya and theAztecs. I will begin with the Maya. The Maya were a peaceful culture living in some small towns south of theYucatan. At this time they had not developed a system of writing, so archeologists had toinfer greatly from their art (von Hagen, Sun, p. 120). Around 900 A.D., the Mayan peoples began the “Great Descent,” in which theymoved away from the cities and into the Yucatan. During this time, the Mayan culturesunk to an all time low (von Hagen, Sun, p. 120). Soon after the Great Descent, a manand his followers arived in the Yucatan. This man taught the Maya his knowledge andrebuilt the abandoned Maya city Chichen Itza. This began the Mayan Renaissance. Theydeveloped their own writing system and their own style of archetecture (von Hagen, Sun,p. 332). In time, the man who came from the west built the Maya capitol, Mayapan. TheMaya adopted this man as their king and savior, calling him Kukulcan, which, in Maya,means “feathered serpent” (von Hagen, Sun, p. 332). Many similarities between the Mayan city Chichen Itza and the Toltec’s Tula givemore evidence for this story. Before I show you these similarities, though, I will give ashort description of each city. After leaving Teotihuacan, the Toltecs moved north about 50 miles. There, theybuilt the city of Tula. Tula seems to have been built because of the need of a city, as thereseems to have been much less planning involved than at Teotihuacan. There is none of theelegant symmetry like that shown at Teotihuacan. The houses were laid out in a veryhapazard manner; room layout was not planned at all. The only planning that seems tohave taken place was in the temples, palace and ball courts (Sabloff, pp. 192-193).After it was built, Tula, or the legendary Tollan, as the Aztecs called it, embodiedall that was great in Teotihuacan, and more. No one showed the grandeour better than theSpanish monk Bernardo de Sahagun when he described Tula as having “rich palaces ofgreen jade and white and red shell, where the ears of corn and pumpkins reached the sizeof a man, where cotton grew in the plant in all colours and the air was filled with rare birdsof precious feather…” (von Hagen, Sun, p. 30). Truly, this was a fantastic place. Almost the same thing could be said about Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza was amoderately sized city, but was the center of Mayan culture at the time of its height. The major building in Chichen Itza is the temple of Kukulkan. From this structure,al things radiate. From the front runs a large ceremonial walkway, which leads to a largewell, called a cenote. Into this was thrown gems and jewels and other precious items.Sacrificial victims were also thrown in (von Hagen, Sun, p. 168). To the right of the temple is a large court in which they played the great ball game,Pok-a-tok. The game was not unlike basketball, in that the players had to get a rubber ballinto a hoop, even though that hoop was 30 ft high and vertical. The players could onlyuse their elbws or hips. This was a big event, rivaling a sacrifice, and the spectators betheavily (von Hagen, Sun, 162). To the left lay the temple of the Warriors, which contained the local market. Tothe rear lay the remains of the old city (von Hagen, Sun, p. 168). The similarities are hard to miss when seeing the two of them. The easiest exampleto see are the temples. Both the temple of Kukulkan and the temple of Tula are built inthe form of the truncated pyramid. A truncated pyramid has four sides with each sidelooking like a large staircase. Each Temple has a stairway on each of the four sides and anenclosed structure at the top (von Hagen, Sun, p. 195). The temple of the Warriors was built in the same fasion, but had two similarfeatures found nowhere outside of Toltec influence. On the outskirts of both temples,there are hundreds of evenly spaced pillars used to hold up wooden roof beams. Only thetemple of the Warriors and the temple of Tula had those. The other characteristicallyToltec feature on both temples are the chac-mools. Both chac-mools are almost exactlythe same except for different facial features (von Hagen, Sun, p. 195). Another feature similar about the two citiex is their art. In Tula, many motifs havebeen found depicting marching jaguars and eagles. That very same thing has been foundin Chichen Itza (von Hagen, Sun, p. 196). Perhaps the most important piece of information has to do with Quetzalcoatl.Earlier, I said that he traveled to Yucatan. This is not exactly true. This has been inferedby some ironic historical events. First, around 987 A.D, Quetzalcoatl was said to have leftTula. At almost the same time in Mayan history, the man named Kukulkan arived in theYucatan. The Mayas loved him so much that they made him their king. Kukulkan thenproceeded to teach them his culture. While he was doing this, the Mayas went throughtheir won renaissance and their culture was restarted. No doubt Kukulkan had somethingto do with this (von Hagen, Sun, p. 332). Let us try a simple thought experiment. The Mayas are considered byarcheologists to have been civilized. I do not have the time, nor the space to prove this,so we will take it as a fact. The Mayas became civilized after Kukulkan taught them hisways. It would follow that Kukulkan, himself, was civilized. Therefore, since he wasoriginally Toltec, this would make the Toltecs, themselves, civilized. The Aztecs were by far the most popular civilization ever to arise in Mexico.Most of the accounts of the Toltecs came frome them. They held the Toltecs in thehighest respect, even basing their own culture on them. When the Aztecs moved in around lake Texcoco, they found the ruins ofTeotihuacan and other small cities. They were in awe of the technological level of thebuilders and gave them the name “Toltec,” which means “builder” or “artist” (Tompkins,p. 20). They then burned all the historical records and wrote their own, putting theToltecs in the paramount position. They believed they were the descendants of the Toltecs(von Hagen, Aztec, p. 39). Looking at the architecture, art, customs, and religion of the Aztecs, one findsalmost perfect simularity. The Aztecs took almost every thing from the Toltecs. Theybuilt the same style temples, had the same gods, used the same artistic style, andperformed the same human sacrifice rituals. One even finds the familiar chac-mool atopmany of the temples. The Toltec culture was so great that, not only did it travel throughout Mexico, butalso traveled beyond the grave.ConclusionNot only did the Toltecs emphasize the group and excell in technology, but theyalso taught two tribes to become civilized. Emphasizing the group is a key factor incivilized cultures. If everyone in a group works for themselves, they are limiting their ownadvancement. But, if they all work for the group, the group will prosper and grow. Technology is a necessary byproduct of civilization. When people come up withideas that will benifit the group, the ideas usually take the form of inventions. Whenpeople work in groups, the individual ideas of the people travel through the generations.These two actions, when done together, result in usable technology that benifits all. The Toltec ideals for society worked for both the Maya and the Aztecs. Thesecultures grew to be the two most well known civilizations in Mexico. This says a lot forthe Toltecs. It says that the Toltecs were the fathers of civilization. When Cortez landed in the midst of the Aztecs, what he was witnessing was theenduring Toltec culture. He then saw a human sacrifice and decided the fate of thesebarbaric people. A civilized culture is one that does not destroy every other culturebecause of different beliefs. One must wonder, which is more civilized: human sacrificeor genocide.One small tidbit about dates. When Quetzalcoatl sailed off to the west, he left theMayas with a prophesy. “On the recurrence of this date, 1-Reed, I will return to Mexico.”I was wondering if Quetzalcoatl ever did return and did some research on the subject.Looking at the dates, I made a startling discovery. The year 1-Reed falls on the year1512, the year Cortez landed in Mexico. This was a haunting revelation, and can beinterpreted in many ways. One can say that it was coincidence, but I don’t choose to thinkso. I think Quetzalcoatl knew what he was saying, but encrypted the message. I think heknew what was going to happen. . .BIBLIOGRAPHYHistory 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. Gruzinski, Serge. The Aztecs- Rise and Fall of an Empire. New York: Harry N. AbramsInc., 1992: 14, 15. Sabloff, Jeremy A. The Cities of Ancient Mexico. New York, New York: Thames andHudson Inc., 1989: 108, 112, 192, 193. Tompkins, Peter. Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids. New York: Harper & Row, Inc.,1976: 20, 189, 334. Townsend, Richard F. The Aztecs. New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 1992: 46, 49,50, 156. von Hagen, Victor Wolfgang. The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas. GreatBritain: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 1962: 14, 20, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, 85, 113,120, 131, 154, 155, 162, 168, 170, 193, 195, 196, 332. _______________________. The Aztec: Man and Tribe. New York: Signet, 1958: 39. _______________________. Maya: Land of the Turkey and the Deer. Cleveland, Ohio:World Publishing Co., 1960: 39. _______________________.. World of the Maya. New York: Signet Classics, 1960:34,35.

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