Teotihuacan in Mexico compared to Roman Kingdom in Italy: Part Two

Little is certain about the Roman kingdom’s history, as no records and few inscriptions from the time of the kings survive and we find a similar lack of written history for Teotihuacan. 

As small groups of hunter gatherers, 12 to 24 perhaps, lived nomadic lives around the planet wherever they roamed, so they honed their skills with developing weapons and tools to dominate their environments and take on threats and opportunities. Pre Roman, pre Teotihuacanoes all followed the path of development, utilising the land they found themselves in, and eventually becoming farmers. Once they formed their territory, they had to protect it and worked on strategies which, in many cases involved warrior activities, and religious priests, some of which were militarily inclined too.

As expansive leadership dominates with military action, so it often destroys evidence of previously written histories, to replace it with its own. In this way, all that remains is the oral tradition.

We have to rely on the oral tradition for both early civilisations. According to these legends, the Roman Kingdom began with the city’s founding circa 753 BC, with settlements around the Palatine Hill along the river Tiber, and ended with the overthrow of the kings and the establishment of the Republic circa 509 BC.

Teotihuacan formed around 150BC and endured for around 800 years. There was therefore a period of time when both civilisations ran concurrently, totally unaware of one another, but with many similarities. It would seem human development was reaching landmark stages in these two centres.

The Aztecs, in their wonderment of finding the ancient city of Teotihuacan, first were responsible for using their language to name it and to create legends around it. They named the Temple of Quetzalcoatl after their god, but researchers doubt this was their god, rather a precursor. All gods were linked to the power of nature to provide for or destroy human existence.

Those studying the archeological remains have been able to piece together more accurate dates for buildings and artefacts, such that evidence of human sacrifice has been obtained to underscore the constant bloodletting to please their gods.

In a similar fashion, the gods of early Rome were likewise tied to survival from the unexpected wrath or benign gifts of nature. Romans would sacrifice animals, similarly through high priest ritual with sacred spots chosen for the sacrifice.  

Both Teotihuacan and Rome grew in size and strength, early on, through trade. The location of their respective cities provided merchants with an easily navigable waterway on which to traffic their goods. For Rome, the Tiber; for Teotihuacan a network of human designed waterways with small craft carrying goods, constantly busy interacting with communities as they plied their trade. The engineering skills required to manage scarce or flooding water was achieved by both cultures with magnificence and artistry.

Much of the food which supplied the city of Teotihuacan came from farmers and fishermen utilising the volcanic Lake Texcoco providing the fresh water and surrounding wetlands to grow a large variety of food in plenty to local tribes of the area. One of the most reliable, with strong trading networks of their own, was the people of Cuicuilco. Sadly for them, a volcanic eruption destroyed their city, ending their success. The Teotihuacanoes absorbed the survivors and their trading networks, beginning their expansion. Just as the Etruscans before the Roman Kingdom dominated the Italian Peninsula, so the Teotihuacanoes came to dominate their strip of land around the Gulf of Mexico, down to and including Guatemala.
Map of Mexico

The Mexican valley has been inhabited for at least 12,000 years, attracting humans with its mild climate (average temperatures between 12 and 15 °C, or 54 and 59 °F), abundant game and ability to support large-scale agriculture. 

Just as the Etruscans morphed into the Romans, so the Teotihuacanoes morphed into the Mayans, and later the Aztecs. As the Olmec culture influenced the culture of Teotihuacanoes, the cultures thereafter influenced one another. 

The industry and skill development of the first Mesoamerican civilisation of Teotihuacan existed from about 800 BC to 800 AD , but the people who left the city had already become part of other civilisations as far away as Guatemala. Using their armies to conquer and control other tribes, they could expand their trading links and power and order their vassals to act in their interests.

The Roman Kingdom relied on a myth to explain its origins – that of the twins of Romulus and Remus. But as the Kingdom grew, it was necessary to become firmly linked to the real world in order to trade in much needed goods. In the time it took to grow from small city-state to capital of an empire, Rome depended on importing necessary goods from its conquered provinces, which ultimately stretched from Asia to the British Isles.

The eventual power of the Roman Empire was to have a profound impact on the world, and the consequences of constant religious wars over centuries created the perfect storm in Europe which eventually collided with the unsuspecting indigenous folk of the New World. By the time Columbus set foot in the New World, Teotihuacan had faded in the mists of time, but had left its mark on the indigenous descendants.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780749427917
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