Key Points

Much of what is known about the Toltecs is based on what has been learned around the Aztecs.Historicists believe that Aztec account of the Toltecs can be trusted as historical sources.Others believe that Aztec accounts space too shrouded in legend to be reliable as sources of truth.Certain Mayan sites, such together Chichén Itzá, share distinctive archeological traits with religious monuments and also buildings in Tula.

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The feathered serpent divine being that appears in piece at Tula and additionally in much later buildings and also mythology in the Aztec Empire.


A scholar that utilizes Aztec accounts of Toltec culture to piece together the history of the Toltec people.

Atlantean figures

Gigantic rock statues that Toltec warriors the only show up at the sites of Tula, Chichén Itzá, and also Potrero Nuevo.

The Toltec society is an historical Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula in the at an early stage Postclassic duration of Mesoamerican chronology (c. 800–1000 CE). Much of what is known around the Toltecs is based on what has actually been learned around the Aztecs, an additional Mesoamerican society that postdated the Toltecs and also admired the Toltecs as predecessors. Due to the fact that so lot of what remains on record about the Toltecs may have actually been tainted by Aztec glorification and also mythology in the 14th with 16th centuries, that is complicated to parse the end the true history.

The later on Aztec society saw the Toltecs as their pundit and cultural predecessors, and described Toltec society emanating from Tōllān <ˈtoːlːaːn> (Nahuatl because that Tula) together the epitome of civilization. Indeed, in the Nahuatl language words “Tōltēcatl” (singular) or “Tōltēcah” (plural) involved take top top the meaning “artisan.” The Aztec oral and pictographic tradition additionally described the background of the Toltec Empire, providing lists the rulers and their exploits.

Among contemporary scholars the is a issue of controversy whether the Aztec narratives of Toltec history should be offered credence as descriptions that actual historic events. While every scholars recognize that there is a big mythological component of the narrative, some keep that by utilizing a vital comparative an approach some level the historicity deserve to be salvaged indigenous the sources. Others keep that continued analysis of the narratives as sources of actual history is futile and hinders access to actual understanding of the culture.

Another dispute relating come the Toltecs stays how ideal to recognize the reasons behind the perceived similarities in architecture and also iconography between the historical site the Tula and also the Mayan website of Chichén Itzá. No agreement has yet emerged around the degree or direction of influence in between these 2 sites.

Toltec pyramid in ~ Tula, Hidalgo. Similarities to the pyramid in ~ Chichén Itzá have the right to be seen, consisting of the sloped shape and also external steps.


The historicists believe that over there is truth within the story told by the Aztecs. Theories abound around the duty the Toltecs in reality played in Mesoamerica, from the central Mexican valleys every the way down to details Maya city-states.

Désiré Charnay, the very first archaeologist to job-related at Tula, Hidalgo, defended the historicist views based on his impression that the Toltec capital. He was the first to note similarities in architecture styles between Tula and also Chichén Itzá, a famous Maya archeological site. This led him to posit the theory that Chichén Itzá had been violent taken end by a Toltec military pressure under the leadership of Kukulcan.Following Charnay, the term “Toltec” has due to the fact that been linked with the influx of certain central Mexican social traits right into the Maya ball of supremacy during the late Classic and early Postclassic periods. The Postclassic Maya human beings of Chichén Itzá, Mayapán, and also the Guatemalan highlands have actually been referred to as “Toltecized” or “Mexicanized” Mayas.Some 20th-century historicist scholars, such together David Carrasco, Miguel León Portilla, Nigel Davies and also H. B. Nicholson, argued that the Toltecs to be a distinct ethnic group. This school of thought connected the “Toltecs” come the historical site that Tula, i beg your pardon was required to be the Tollan of Aztec myth.Historicists supportive of the ethnic group theory also argue that lot of main Mexico was possibly overcame by a “Toltec empire” between the 10th and also 12th century CE. One feasible clue they allude to is that the Aztecs described several mexican city-states as Tollan, “Place of Reeds,” such together “Tollan Cholollan.”Archaeologist Laurette Sejourné, complied with by the historian Enrique Florescano, suggested that the “original” Tollan was probably Teotihuacán.Anti-Historicist

On the various other side the the discussion lie those who believe that the Aztec stories room clouded by myth and also cannot be taken as precise accounts the the Toltec civilization. Multiple theories location the Toltec and also the site of Tula in ~ a more general framework:

Some scholar argue the the Toltec era is finest considered the 4th of the 5 Aztec mythical “suns” or ages. This fourth sun instantly precedes the fifth sun the the Aztec people, which to be prophesied to it is in presided over by Quetzalcoatl.Some researchers argue the the just historically trustworthy data in the Aztec chronicles are the name of part rulers and also possibly several of the conquests ascribed come them.Skeptics argue the the ancient city that Teotihuacán and the Aztec city the Tenochtitlan to be much an ext influential sites for Mesoamerican society than Tula. However, this skeptical school of assumed acknowledges the Tula still contributed to central Mexican social heritage in distinct ways.Recent scholarship go not structure Tula, Hidalgo, together the funding of the Toltecs as defined in the Aztec accounts. Rather, the takes “Toltec” to average simply an inhabitant that Tula during its apogee. Separating the term “Toltec” native those of the Aztec accounts, it attempts to find archaeological clues come the ethnicity, history, and also social company of the residents of the site of Tula.Archeology and also Clues

While the residents of the site of Tula, Hidalgo, stay a secret group, and their ethnic and social dynamics room obscure, they left behind comprehensive archeological records that contemporary scholars have attempted come parse through.


Stone carving the Quetzalcoatl. This an effective feathered serpent deity has deep supernatural roots in Aztec stories. He also appears consistently in carvings at Tula.

The city that Tula boasts 15-foot-tall warrior statues sculpted from stone. These same Atlantean figures, as they room called, additionally appear in ~ the Mayan sites of Chichén Itzá and also Potrero Nuevo.


Toltec warrior statues in ~ Tula. These stone statues to mark the creative style of the city the Tula. They likewise connect this city with other cultural sites in Mesoamerica.

Tula additionally boasts intricate carvings that eagles, jaguars, hummingbirds, and also butterflies, all of which the Aztec realm used prolifically. Furthermore, the website of Tula contains two round courts because that the religious rubber ball game that shows up in many Mesoamerican civilizations. Together with these distinctive relics, the Toltecs likewise built distinctive pyramids the mirror various other sites, such together Chichén Itzá.

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Many inquiries still remain around the residents of this site, consisting of questions around their origin and also their demise. This site additionally raises questions around the circulation of influence between multiple Mesoamerican cultures before the increase of the Aztec Empire.