Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan
Time itself had lost its meaning, for without the calendar one day was the same as . To the Toltecs -- and later the Aztecs -- this meant cutting out the heart of a . a correlation between the "months" of the Maya and Aztec secular calendars. This cult and others, as well as the Toltec military orders of the Coyote, the Jaguar, and the Eagle, were introduced into important Mayan cities to the south in. The Toltec civilization flourished in ancient central Mexico between the 10th and Most information on the Toltec comes from Aztec and Post-colonial texts at Tollan (or Tula, meaning 'place of reeds', a general Mesoamerican phrase to apply to all suggest that there was a close cultural link between the two civilizations.
As temperatures over the high plateaus of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States build up with the northerly advance of the sun, an upper-level flow of moist air starts moving in off the Pacific, triggering thundershowers that are as spotty in their distribution as they are short and violent in nature. These monsoonal rains begin earlier and last longer in the south of the Mexican plateau than they do in the north, and how far they penetrate or how much precipitation they produce can vary markedly from one year to another.
As in Monsoon Asia, a very careful timing of the agricultural cycle might produce a successful crop, but in just as many if not more instances a total disaster could result as well. Small wonder then, that the local inhabitants found little opportunity and even less incentive to attempt to gain their livelihood in other than the most rudimentary manner, that is, through collecting gathering and hunting. To be sure, during the Pleistocene ice age things were rather different.
That was the time of the "pluvials," or heavy rains, which were occasioned by the equatorward displacement of the mid-latitude storm tracks. At that time large parts of the Mexican plateau supported a dense grass cover which enabled a rich fauna of Prehistoric grazing animals to inhabit the region.
But as the climate warmed and the continental ice sheets retreated, so did the storm belts shift northward, nudging the Mexican plateau toward the semiarid and arid climate which it experiences today.
The History of the Native Peoples of the Americas/Mesoamerican Cultures/Toltecs
While some of the great herds of deer, elk, and bison survived by moving northward, many species -- such as the native camels and horses, as well as the great lumbering mammoths and mastodons -- became extinct as the temperatures rose, the rains ceased, and the grasslands degenerated into desert and scrub.
What had been a Paleolithic hunter's paradise had turned into a harsh and niggardly expanse inhabited chiefly by small rodents and reptiles, and the occasional larger predator. Indeed, one of the most productive local environments continued to be the waters of the temporary playa lakes which occupied the floors of many of the mountain basins, for there both fish and waterfowl could be found, at least seasonally.
The climatic station of Zacatecas is representative of a large part of the northern Mexican plateau and as such typifies the environment in which the nomadic Chichimecs were found. Although the warmest month is May, the water need and hence the temperature is moderate throughout die year, due both to the place's northerly latitude and to its high elevation.
Frosts can occur in the low-sun winter months, but the greatest drawback to agriculture is the deficiency of moisture. A monsoonal distribution of precipitation is still apparent, but barely meets the moisture requirements of plants for more than a couple of months. As a result, the prevailing vegetation of the region surrounding Zacatecas is of a short-grass steppe or semidesert variety. The higher crests of the Sierra Madre Occidental on the western edges of the Mexican plateau formed something of a green oasis in the drab brownness of the northern desert.
Here a slightly greater annual rainfall coupled with cooler temperatures made the moisture effective enough to support extensive forests of pine, but once the descent of the western slopes was made, so too was there a return to semiarid conditions, only now in company with tropical temperatures.
The aridity of the Pacific versant of the Sierra Madre Occidental is relieved only here and there by the waters of some larger river snaking its way to the coast. It was in these little alluvial plains along such rivers as the Sinaloa and the Fuerte that the last outposts of the Mesoamerican culture realm were to be found, clinging to their existence as tiny islands of corn cultivation in a vast surrounding sea of nomadism.
Although the boundaries between the settled agriculturalist and the nomadic hunter-gatherer were fairly rigidly drawn by nature itself, this did not prevent the two culture-worlds from interacting with one another. Perhaps much of this interaction was the peaceful interchange of goods and ideas, because we do know that trade items from Mesoamerica reached well up into the American Southwest and that some especially prized commodities, such as native copper, found their way from as far away as the shores of Lake Superior to Central Mexico.
In the same way, certain cultural traits like the ritual ball game and sacrifices to the morning star spread well beyond the limits of Mesoamerica into adjacent regions of North America. But inevitably some of this cross-cultural interaction was also of a more violent nature, and raids by hungry nomads into frontier areas of agricultural production must have been both frequent and repeated.
Thus, depending on a given nomadic tribe's geography, they might have been drawn into the expanding web of civilization either early or late, either to a great degree or perhaps not at all. In place of the large, thriving metropolis that had tempted their incursion in the first instance now lay the glowing embers of a dead and vacant city -- the humble homes of its people in ruins, its vast, sprawling marketplaces silent, its artisan quarters abandoned, its religious and ruling elite gone.
Once its stores of foodstuffs had been ransacked and its objects of art had been pilfered, there was nothing left but the hulking masses of its great pyramids standing as mute witnesses to the death of a great civilization. The pandemonium, panic, and sheer human suffering which engulfed the survivors must have been catastrophic. The loss in life was no doubt staggering; the loss in cultural and intellectual terms was almost irreparable.
Ironically, it was probably the latter which troubled the Toltecs the most. The total fabric of the city's life was gone. Its social structure was in tatters. Its religious being was in question. Existence had suddenly become meaningless.
It was as though the gods had forsaken them, for without the priestly elite, there was no interpretation of their will, no ordered timetable by which to commemorate them. Time itself had lost its meaning, for without the calendar one day was the same as any other. What was this "calendar" of which everyone seemed to speak?
How had it ordered the lives of the people, and why was there such an empty void without it? Was there something unseen -- invisible in the city itself but nevertheless real and powerful -- through which the priests had communicated with the gods? No nomads, lurking on the desert fringes of the great metropolis, would have suspected that in addition to the pyramids and palaces and marketplaces and workshops -- which they could see -- was a mystical force that drove the entire engine of civilization, but which they could not see.
It was something of which they would only belatedly become aware once the engine had stopped. In their quest to find out what this "calendar" was all about, the Toltecs probably had to rely primarily on untutored, secondary sources, for the priests who were the custodians of such privileged information had long since fled. Nevertheless, the Toltecs must have come into possession of enough of the priestly records to recreate the calendrical system almost exactly, though at the same time they clearly availed themselves of the opportunity to make some distinctive modifications and embellishments of their own.
THE NAHUA MODEL The basic structure of the Toltec calendrical system was unmistakably patterned on that of its Teotihuacano predecessor, for 13 numerals alternated with 20 day-names to form the basis of a "sacred almanac" whose primary function was to divine the fortunes of individuals and schedule major religious festivities.
Another count containing 18 groups of 20 days followed by 5 additional days which were considered "unlucky" measured the length of a "year" -- the latter being a concept with which the Toltecs must have had only a most rudimentary acquaintance. The two counts ran simultaneously and only after 52 years had passed would the numbers and names of the days once again be the same as when the count began. This point, in particular, must have impressed the Toltecs, because it was as though it proved that history repeated itself.
To the primitive mind, it may also have suggested the necessity for humans to do something special -- to make the appropriate offerings to the gods -- so as to ensure that the world would continue for another 52 years, for such a provision was built into the Toltec version of the calendars from the very start. To identify specific years within any given year "bundle," the Toltecs also imitated the practice of their Teotihuacano forebears by naming each year for the day of the sacred almanac on which it ended.
Thus, in effect the days which became the "year bearers" of the Nahua peoples were those named "Rabbit," "Reed," "Flint-Knife," and "House,' or Tochtli, Acatl, Tecpatl, and Calli in their own language.
Another characteristic of the Toltec calendar which was derived from earlier Mesoamerican practice was the calibration of the beginning of the secular year with the southward zenithal passage of the sun.
Yet, to these newly acculturated nomads, this event must have seemed far less auspicious than the zenithal passage of the Pleiades the distinctive asterism of seven visibly clustered stars which has intrigued peoples throughout the worldfor they made this latter passage the occasion to mark the end of each of their year cycles with a special celebration called the "binding of the years.
Indeed, at the latitude of Tula, the Pleiades transited the zenith each year at midnight on the evening of October 9. Although the Toltec year cycle began with "1 Rabbit," thanks to Nahua mythology the "binding of the years" ceremony took place in the second year of the cycle, "2 Reed.
After this last cataclysm it supposedly took a year to "raise the heavens again," and in the second year a feast was prepared for the gods Krickeberg, Since by tradition fire was first acquired on this occasion, the ceremony itself involved putting out all the fires of the past era and rekindling new ones.
Thus, in the Nahua mind the fateful moment in which the Pleiades passed through the zenith -- in relative proximity to Orion's Belt, which they visualized as a "fire drill" -- provided an appropriate opportunity for demonstrating humankind's gratitude to the gods for giving them fire. To the Toltecs -- and later the Aztecs -- this meant cutting out the heart of a sacrificial victim and kindling the first new fire in his chest cavity. Indeed, some form of human sacrifice was to become an integral part of the celebration of the end of each day "month," as well as on the occasion of an ominous day called "4 Movement.
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Any researcher who would attempt to reconstruct the calendrical system of the Toltecs must necessarily take into account the facts and fictions by which they lived. Certainly the most exhaustive study that has been made of the Nahua calendar was that carried out by the Mexican scholar Alfonso Casowho based his correlation on the correspondence of certain key dates of the Spanish conquest and native Indian sources.
On the basis of these correspondences, Caso concluded that the Nahua calendar had to have begun with the "month" of Atlcahualo, although of 42 sources which he surveyed ranging from the sixteenth through the twentieth century, he found a wide difference in opinion.
Remember that what we term a "month" in the Mesoamerican calendar is in fact an interval of 20 days, and had nothing to do with the length of the period of the moon's revolution. Like Caso, 14 of the sources opted for the "month" of Atlcahualo, another 14 preferred Tlacaxipehualiztli, 7 cited Izcalli, 3 chose Tititl, 2 Atemoztli, and 1 each Panquetzaliztli and Toxcatl. Thus, no fewer than 7 of the 18"months" have been suggested as the starting point of the Aztec year.
The first cited a beginning Julian calendar date of February 2; the second, March 1. By devising a computer program which permitted me the flexibility of testing all of the "months" of the Aztec year as potential starting dates, I was able to establish that any of the first 8 "months" would have produced the same three correspondences as Caso's correlation.
However, if the calendar had begun with the 9th month, La Noche Triste would have fallen during the nemontemi, or 5-day unlucky period, whereas from the 10th through the 18th "months" it would have occurred on the day 3 Huey Tecuilhuitl rather than on 18 Tecuilhuitontli as Caso argued.
Thus, while any of the first 8 Aztec "months" produced totally as accurate results as Caso claimed for AtIcahualo, when they were tested against a fourth well known date from the Conquest -- namely, that of the great Cholula massacre carried out by Alvarado on May 23, -- both the 7th and 8th "months" had to be dismissed as well.
Having now narrowed the field to the first 6 "months" of the Aztec year, I proceeded to test each of them to determine on which day of the secular calendar the final day of the sacred almanac fell. This was important because Caso argued that the name of the year took its name from that day; and since Caso had selected Atlcahualo as the first "month" of the year, he concluded that the critical day would have been 20 Tititl.
Choosing the final celebration of the "binding of the years" in as my test case, I found that all 6 of the "months" produced exactly the same results: One round earlier in the sacred almanac, however -- i.
On the other hand, the version of the secular calendar which began with "month" 6 would have reached the date 5 Nemontemi, the last of the so-called 5 unlucky days. Thus, through this test I had further narrowed the field of possible candidates for the secular year's starting "month" to the only two with truly distinctive characteristics -- "month" 1, Izcalli, and "month" 6,' Toxcatl. Caso claimed that the Toltecs would never have chosen the name of one of the 5 unlucky days as the name of the year, and therefore had ruled out the possibility of Toxcatl having served as the beginning of the secular year.
A further correlation was required to narrow the choices between Izcalli and Toxcatl. All researchers examining the Mesoamerican calendars have been struck by how closely the Nahua version mirrors that of the Maya. Indeed, a comparison of the day-numbers of the sacred almanac in each of the Nahua and Maya versions reveals that they are only two days apart! For example, what would have been the day 12 Ik in the Maya almanac corresponded to the day "1 Rabbit" in the Aztec count.
While Tula does have the urban complexity expected of an imperial capital, its influence and dominance was not very far reaching. Evidence for Tula's participation in extensive trade networks has been uncovered; for example, the remains of a large obsidian workshop. Carved relief of a Jaguar at Tula, Hidalgo The debate about the nature of the Toltec culture goes back to the late 19th century.
Mesoamericanist scholars such as Veitia, Manuel Orozco y BerraCharles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourgand Francisco Clavigero all read the Aztec chronicles and believed them to be realistic historic descriptions of a pan-Mesoamerican empire based at Tula, Hidalgo. This historicist view was first challenged by Daniel Garrison Brinton who argued that the "Toltecs" as described in the Aztec sources were merely one of several Nahuatl-speaking city-states in the Postclassic period, and not a particularly influential one at that.
He attributed the Aztec view of the Toltecs to the "tendency of the human mind to glorify the good old days", and the confounding of the place of Tollan with the myth of the struggle between Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca.
Nicholsonwhich all held the Toltecs to have been an actual ethnic group.
This school of thought connected the "Toltecs" to the archaeological site of Tulawhich was taken to be the Tollan of Aztec myth.
Many historicists such as H. Nicholson and Nigel Davies were fully aware that the Aztec chronicles were a mixture of mythical and historical accounts; this led them to try to separate the two by applying a comparative approach to the varying Aztec narratives. For example, they seek to discern between the deity Quetzalcoatl and a Toltec ruler often referred to as Topiltzin Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Learn how and when to remove this template message Depiction of an anthropomorphic bird-snake deity, probably Quetzalcoatl at the Temple of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli at Tula, Hidalgo View of the columns of the burned palace at Tula Hidalgo.
The second ballcourt is in the background. Toltec warriors represented by the famous Atlantean figures in Tula. In recent decades the historicist position has fallen out of favor for a more critical and interpretive approach to the historicity of the Aztec mythical accounts based on the original approach of Brinton. This approach applies a different understanding of the word Toltec to the interpretation of the Aztec sources, interpreting it as largely a mythical and philosophical construct by either the Aztecs or Mesoamericans generally that served to symbolize the might and sophistication of several civilizations during the Mesoamerican Postclassic period.