The city of Teotihuacán, which lay about 50 kilometers northeast of modern-day Mexico City, began its growth by 200-100 B.C. At its height, between about A.D. 150 and 700, it probably had a population of more than 125,000 people and covered at least 20 square kilometers. It had over 2,000 apartment complexes, a great market, a large number of industrial workshops, an administrative center, a number of massive religious edifices, and a regular grid pattern of streets and buildings. Clearly, much planning and central control were involved in the expansion and ordering of this great metropolis. Moreover, the city had economic and perhaps religious contacts with most parts of Mesoamerica (modern Central America and Mexico).
How did this tremendous development take place, and why did it happen in the Teotihuacán Valley? Among the main factors are Teotihuacán’s geographic location on a natural trade route to the south and east of the Valley of Mexico, the obsidian resources in the Teotihuacán Valley itself, and the valley’s potential for extensive irrigation. The exact role of other factors is much more difficult to pinpoint―for instance, Teotihuacán’s religious significance as a shrine, the historical situation in and around the Valley of Mexico toward the end of the first millennium B.C., the ingenuity and foresightedness of Teotihuacán’s elite, and, finally, the impact of natural disasters, such as the volcanic eruptions of the late first millennium B.C.
This last factor is at least circumstantially implicated in Teotihuacán’s rise. Prior to 200 B.C., a number of relatively small centers coexisted in and near the Valley of Mexico. Around this time, the largest of these centers, Cuicuilco, was seriously affected by a volcanic eruption, with much of its agricultural land covered by lava. With Cuicuilco eliminated as a potential rival, any one of a number of relatively modest towns might have emerged as a leading economic and political power in Central Mexico. The archaeological evidence clearly indicates, though, that Teotihuacán was the center that did arise as the predominant force in the area by the first century A.D.
It seems likely that Teotihuacán’s natural resources, along with the city elite’s ability to recognize their potential, gave the city a competitive edge over its neighbors. The valley, like many other places in Mexican and Guatemalan highlands, was rich in obsidian. The hard volcanic stone was a resource that had been in great demand for many years, at least since the rise of the Olmecs (a people who flourished between 1200 and 400 B.C.), and it apparently had a secure market. Moreover, recent research on obsidian tools found at Olmec sites has shown that some of the obsidian obtained by the Olmecs originated near Teotihuacán. Teotihuacán obsidian must have been recognized as a valuable commodity for many centuries before the great city arose.
Long-distance trade in obsidian probably gave the elite residents of Teotihuacán access to a wide variety of exotic good, as well as a relatively prosperous life. Such success may have attracted immigrants to Teotihuacán. In addition, Teotihuacán’s elite may have consciously attempted to attract new inhabitants. It is also probable that as early as 200 B.C. Teotihuacán may have achieved some religious significance and its shrine (or shrines) may have served as an additional population magnet. Finally, the growing population was probably fed by increasing the number and size of irrigated fields.
The picture of Teotihuacán that emerges is a classic picture of positive feedback among obsidian mining and working, trade, population growth, irrigation, and religious tourism. The thriving obsidian operation, for example, would necessitate more miners, additional manufacturers of obsidian tools, and additional traders to carry the goods to new markets. All this led to increased wealth, which in turn would attract more immigrants to Teotihuacán. The growing power of the elite, who controlled the economy, would give them the means to physically coerce people to move to Teotihuacán and serve as additions to the labor force. More irrigation works would have to be built to feed the growing population, and this resulted in more power and wealth for the elite.
起源于公元前200到100年前的特奥蒂瓦坎城位于现在的墨西哥城东北约50公里处。在鼎盛时期，也就是大约在公元150到700年间，它可能有超过12.5万的人口至少覆盖圆20平方公里。它拥有超过2 000座大厦、一座大型市场、大量的工业作坊、一个行政管理中心、数量庞大的宗教场所，还有规则的街道建筑网络。显然，这座伟大的都市的管理和扩张时经过了精心的规划和集中管理的。甚至特奥蒂瓦坎城与中美洲的大部分都保持着经济也许还有宗教的联系。 这惊人的发展是如何完成的，又为什么会发生在特奥蒂瓦坎峡谷呢？其中最主要的原因就是特奥蒂瓦坎地处联通墨西哥峡谷南部和东部的自然形成的通商线路中，特奥蒂瓦坎峡谷本身拥有的黑曜石资源，还有特奥蒂瓦坎峡谷大面积灌溉的潜能。而其他的因素的作用则很难表述清楚——例如，特奥蒂瓦坎作为宗教圣地的重要地位，在公元前一千年后期墨西哥峡谷及其周围地区的历史情况，特奥蒂瓦坎精英们的机智和深谋远虑，以及自然灾害的冲击，比如在公元前一千年后期的火山喷发。 这最后的因素至少偶然地暗示了特奥蒂瓦坎的崛起。在公元前200年以前，有很多相对较小的中心在墨西哥峡谷内部和周围和谐共存着。就在这时其中最大的中心，Cuicuilco遭到火山爆发的严重影响，其大部分农田被岩浆覆盖了。随着Cuicuilco失去了竞争能力，其他任何一个中等的城镇都可能成为墨西哥中部新一代政治经济中心。考古资料明确地表明，特奥蒂瓦坎就是在公元1世纪时崛起的中心。 很可能是特奥蒂瓦坎的自然资源和精英们发挥其潜能们的才能，给予了这座城市以与其邻居们抗衡的力量。像墨西哥和危地马拉高地的其他地区一样，这个峡谷也富含黑曜岩。那坚硬的火成岩在很多年内都是需求量极大的资源，至少从奥尔麦克人(一个在公元前1 200到公元前400年间繁荣过的名族)的崛起之后就是这样了，显然它有着一个稳定的市场。关于最近在奥尔达克遗址中发掘的黑曜岩工具的研究表明，奥尔麦克人所得到的部分黑曜石工具源自特奥蒂瓦坎地区。在这座伟大的城市崛起之前，特奥蒂瓦坎的黑曜岩一定已经作为极有价值的商品闻名数世纪了。 长距离的黑曜岩交易可能就使得特奥蒂瓦坎的精英们有机会得到外来的商品和相对繁荣的生活，这种成功可能会吸引移民到特奥蒂瓦坎。另外，特奥蒂瓦坎的贵族们也可能会有意地吸引新的移民。也有可能是早在公元前200年前，特奥蒂瓦坎的宗教就达到了一定的高度，所以其神殿就是另一种对移民的吸引力。最后，不断增加的人口可以通过扩大灌溉土地的面积和规模而得到给养。 那展现出来的特奥蒂瓦坎的生活图景是一种经典的在黑曜岩开采和交易，人口的增长，灌溉的扩张，还有宗教旅游业之间的良性反馈。比如说，黑曜岩交易的发展将需要更多的矿工，更多的黑曜岩工具的制造商和更多的商人将工具运往新的市场。所有的这一切导致了财富的增加，而财富的增加，这反过来又会吸引更多的人移民到特奥蒂瓦坎。而那些掌控者经济命脉的社会精英们的力量的增长就会为他们提供了种种方法以迫使人们移往特奥蒂瓦坎以充当额外的劳动力。于是就不得不建成更多的灌溉工事以给养增长的人口，而这又会导致精英们力量和财富的增加。