State and Society at Teotihuacan, Mexico


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Annual Review of Anthropology

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Between 100 BCE and 200 CE, the city of Teotihuacan grew rapidly, most of the Basin of Mexico population was relocated in the city, immense civic-religious structures were built, and symbolic and material evidence shows the early importance of war. Rulers were probably able and powerful. Subsequently the city did not grow, and government may have become more collective, with significant constraints on rulers' powers. A state religion centered on war and fertility deities presumably served elite interests, but civic consciousness may also have been encouraged. A female goddess was important but probably not as pervasive as has been suggested. Political control probably did not extend beyond central Mexico, except perhaps for some outposts, and the scale and significance of commerce are unclear. Teotihuacan's prestige, however, spread widely in Mesoamerica, manifested especially in symbols of sacred war, used for their own ends by local elites.

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