National Geographic : 1968 Oct
Men of many gods built the New World's first metropolis FED BY FARMERS and ruled by priests, a tribe in the Valley of Mexico created an urban civilization that ushered in the Classic Period and influenced all Middle America. About the time of Christ, men of Teotihuacin moved mountains of adobe brick and stone to build pyramids that rival Egypt's; 28 miles from Mexico City they awe visitors today. By the sixth century, as many as 100,000 Teotihua canos, many living in patio apartments, devoted them selves to pleasing a pantheon of gods. Two hundred years later unknown invaders desolated the city. For centuries back-country folk, mistaking the area's mam moth bones (page 499) for those of ancient men, per petuated a legend about a race of giants. Indeed, Teo tihuacin means "city of the gods." 1/4 ACTUALSIZE Still-glowing colors coat a shapely ceremonial vase made 15 centuries ago at Teotihua cain. Craftsmen stuccoed the fired vessel, then painted the design. Gory god of spring, Xipe Totec wears a skin of a human sacrifice. In rites honoring the deity, priests presented him with the most valued gift, human lives, and also donned the skins themselves; the act sym bolized earth acquiring its spring mantle of vegetation. In time Mexicans used molds to mass-produce the popular Xipe. This clay god from Teo tihuacan sprouts a headdress patterned after a butterfly and holds a bowl and shield. Mosaic mask may have fitted a wooden figure used in religious ceremonies. Chips of turquoise and red shell encrust a serpentine base; obsidian pupils peer from mother-of-pearl eyes. The life-size mask came from the Pacific Coast State of Guerrero, a hundred miles from Teotihuacfin but once under its sway.