The Place of Reeds is based on this historical city called Teotihuacan so I’ve included the timeline for the latter.
First sedentary farming villages appeared in the Valley of Mexico (Gendrop, 1972).
By this time some of the sedentary villages have become towns (Gendrop, 1972). Tlatilco is one such. Villages continue to appear in new locations in the valley of Mexico. Religion appeared to be a fertility cult.
New foods (beans, squashes, pumpkins, and gourds) and professions (chiefs, sorcerers, warriors, acrobats, dancers) appear in the towns of the Valley of Mexico (Gendrop, 1972). In Tlatilco the “pretty ladies” – little clay figures – appeared, presumably related to the fertility cult.
On the coast the Olmecs appeared on the Gulf of Mexico (Gendrop, 1972). They raised great stone sculptures with a Negroid appearance although less grand artwork shows typical mongoloid features; this may reflect a racial difference between the rulers and the people. Much of Olmec art reflected the Jaguar-Man combination. Some sculpture from late in the period seems to show inscriptions suggesting the Olmecs had mastered a glyphic system of writing.
Olmec influence spread into the central valley. One result in Tlatilco was the replacement of the “pretty ladies” with the “baby faces” figures (Gendrop, 1972). Olmec influence did not reach western Mexico.
The first stepped pyramids with stone masonry bases appeared at Cuicuilco and Tlapacoya (Gendrop, 1972). This building style spread throughout Mesoamerica.
At some time before 100 AD Cuicuilco, in the southern part of the Valley of Mexico, was buried by a volcanic eruption (Miller & Taube, 1993). Gendrop, 1972) places this around 300-200 BC. This may have been the trigger for the rise of Teotihuacan.
Concentrated settlements scattered over the sides of the Teotihuacan valley (Vogel, 1995). The inhabitants farmed agricultural land in the valley.
The inhabitants of the Teotihuacan valley began work on the city’s communal Ceremonial Centre (Vogel, 1995). The Sun and Moon Pyramids were begun.
100 BC – 150 AD
The inhabitants of Teotihuacan build the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon (Gendrop, 1972).
The ceremonial centre of Teotihuacan was extended as far as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (Vogel, 1995). The Sun and Moon Pyramids were completed.
Extensive city planning in Teotihuacan establishes a geometric plan (Vogel, 1995). The Sun and Moon Pyramids gained additional buildings.
Teotihuacan sees further building in the four quarters (Vogel, 1995). The quarters are organised as interdependent units of the state.
Mayan cities throve in the Petén under dynastic kings (Miller & Taube, 1993). Tikal, Uaxactún, Xultún, Río Azul are some of the Mayan cities. Tikal may have been the first of these to adopt the ideology and technology of war from Teotihuacan. Certainly it was under Teotihuacan influence as evidenced by pottery and architecture (Vogel, 1995).
Teotihuacan sees a resurgence in public building with large decorated palaces rising around the ceremonial centre Grendrop (1972). The Palace of Quetzalcoatl is an example of these. Grendrop says the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl was built between 250-300 AD, however, Miller and Taube (1993) say it was completed by 250 AD.
Teotihuacan already had its major buildings, including the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon (Miller & Taube, 1993).
The Teotihuacan state expanded (Vogel, 1995). This came with a flourishing economy. The rulers took the opportunity to remodel the city buildings. Mural paintings were used to document certain political and religious practices.
By 500 AD Caracol, Copán, Yaxchilán, Piedras Negras, Bonampak, Calakmul and other cities have joined the earlier Mayan cities (Miller & Taube, 1993).
Climate change brought drought in 535–536 (New World Encyclopedia: Teotihuacan). This may have contributed to the decline of Teotihucán. Archaeological evidence shows a rise in the percentage of juvenile skeletons with evidence of malnutrition during the sixth century.
After 6 years of warfare Caracol finally defeated Tikal (Miller & Taube, 1993).
By 650 AD Teotihuacan covered more than 20 square kilometres and had a population of some 85,000 inhabitants (Gendrop, 1972). It couldn’t grow without affecting agricultural land. This caused internal problems which coincided with troubles in the settlements subject to tribute and colonization.
Teotihuacan was raved by fire (Miller & Taube, 1993) and several buildings along the Avenue of the Dead were destroyed (Vogel, 1995).
Teotihuacan was gradually abandoned (Vogel, 1995). Vogel lists several possible explanations for these events:
- Famine caused by droughts forcing the inhabitants to migrate
- Intense struggle for power that divided the ruling class
- Invasion by other groups from the north
- Popular uprising against the rulers
- A combination of the above
On the other hand Tikal was on the rise again after its defeat by Caracol in 562 AD (Miller & Taube, 1993). However, from this time through to 900 AD Mayan ceremonial centres start being abandoned due to over-exploitation of the local environment and conflict.
Some villagers still occupied the half-ruined Teotihuacan (Vogel, 1995). Satellite centres within the Teotihuacan sphere underwent commercial and political growth.
The empty Teotihuacan became a pilgrimage site for later peoples (Vogel, 1995). According to legend Teotihuacan is were the Fifth Sun was created. The visitors performed ceremonies to honour the gods.
As the older cities are abandoned a new group of Maya ceremonial centres spring up at Uxmal and other sites in the Puuc Hills (Miller & Taube, 1993).
The Maya Long Count reached 10 Bakum (10.0.0.0.0) (Miller & Taube, 1993).
Gendrop, P. (1972). Ancient Mexico. Editorial Trillas.
Miller, M., & Taube, K. (1993). An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson.
Vogel, S. (1995). Teotihuacan: History, Art and Monuments. Moncem Ediciones.