The history of Teotihuacan roughly begins around 500 B.C. People were at least known to inhabit the area at this time, though no real traces of these earliest residents remain. Instead, the earliest structures that are found at Teotihuacan date closer to 100 B.C., and it wasn’t until after this year that work began on the huge Pyramid of the Sun.
The construction of Teotihuacan was carried out over hundreds of years, and it largely coincides with the history of the construction of ancient Rome. When Teotihuacan reached its zenith around 500 A.D., it actually had a larger population than Rome. There is no doubt that it was a major hub of ancient Mesoamerica, though that’s about the only thing that scholars know for sure.
Not much is known about the people who inhabited the pre-Colombian city of Teotihuacan. There is no evidence relating to the language that they spoke, for example, and historians aren’t quite sure where they came from. The story of their disappearance is much clearer. Teotihuacan was abandoned around 700 A.D. Popular belief has it that overpopulation was largely to blame, as was the depletion of resources. Also common is the theory that Teotihuacan was intentionally burned, perhaps by its former inhabitants themselves.
The Aztecs became aware of Teotihuacan in and around 1320 A.D. Much like the Toltec who came before, they were impressed and incorporated many of the ancient city’s motifs and symbols into their own art and architecture. As for what remains of Teotihuacan today, visitors can check out ruins of pyramids and observe altars that were used for sacrificial purposes. Ruins of grand houses also remain, and there are fascinating sculptures and murals to check out. Visitors can learn more about the history of Teotihuacan at the onsite museum. It is generally recommended that all tours begin there.