The Teotihuacan Anomaly: The Historical Trajectory of Urban Design in Ancient Central Mexico

Michael E. Smith 1
  • 1 Arizona State University, , Tempe, United States

Abstract

The ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan had the most aberrant design of any city in ancient Mesoamerica. I examine similarities and differences between the design of Teotihuacan and other Mesoamerican cities. During the Preclassic period, a set of common Mesoamerican planning principles emerged. The designers of Teotihuacan rejected most of these principles in favor of a new and radical set of planning concepts. After the fall of Teotihuacan, subsequent urban planners ignored the Teotihuacan principles and returned to ancient Mesoamerican planning ideas. Elements of the Teotihuacan plan did not resurface until the Mexica of Tenochtitlan revived them for a specific goal. The historical sequence of central Mexican city layouts highlights the anomalous character of Teotihuacan’s principles of urban design within the canons of ancient Mesoamerican urbanism.

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