Pyramid Model Resources

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The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest building in Teotihuacan, and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. It is believed to have been constructed about 200 AD.[6] Found along the Avenue of the Dead, in between the Pyramid of the Moon and the Ciudadela, and in the shadow of the mountain Cerro Gordo, the pyramid is part of a large complex in the heart of the city.

The Sun pyramid. Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan.

The name Pyramid of the Sun comes from the Aztecs, who visited the city of Teotihuacan centuries after it was abandoned; the name given to the pyramid by the Teotihuacanos is unknown. It was constructed in two phases. The first construction stage, around 200 CE, brought the pyramid to nearly the size it is today. The second round of construction resulted in its completed size of 225 meters (738feet) across and 75 meters (246 feet) high,[clarification needed] making it the third-largest pyramid in the world,[7] though still just over half the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza (146 metres).

Structure measurements, location and orientation[edit]

The second phase also saw the construction of an altar atop of the pyramid which has not survived into modern times. Over the structure, the ancient Teotihuacanos finished their pyramid with lime plaster imported from surrounding areas, on which they painted brilliantly colored murals. While the pyramid has endured for centuries, the paint and plaster have not and are no longer visible.

Jaguar heads and paws, stars, and snake rattles are among the few images associated with the pyramids.[citation needed].

Middle Kingdom Fascination with the Old Guy

It is thought that the pyramid venerated a deity within Teotihuacan society. However, little evidence exists to support this hypothesis. The destruction of the temple on top of the pyramid, by both deliberate and natural forces prior to the archaeological study of the site, has so far prevented identification of the pyramid with any particular deity.[citation needed].


Recovered artifacts[edit]

A model of the pyramid. The pyramid was built on a carefully selected spot, from where it was possible to align it both to the prominent Cerro Gordo to the north and, in perpendicular directions, to sunrises and sunsets on specific dates, recorded by a number of architectural orientations in Mesoamerica.[8] The whole central part of the urban grid of Teotihuacan, including the Avenue of the Dead, reproduces the orientation of the Sun Pyramid, while the southern part exhibits a slightly different orientation, dictated by the Ciudadela.[9].

The pyramid was built over a man-made tunnel leading to a "cave" located six metres down beneath the centre of the structure. Originally this was believed to be a naturally formed lava tube and interpreted as possibly the place of Chicomoztoc, the place of human origin according to Nahua legends. More recent excavations have suggested that the space is man-made and could have served as a royal tomb. Recently scientists have used muon detectors to try to find other chambers within the interior of the pyramid,[10] but substantial looting has prevented the discovery of a function for the chambers in Teotihuacan society.[citation needed].

Comparison of approximate profiles of the Pyramid of the Sun with some notable pyramidal or near-pyramidal buildings. Dotted lines indicate original heights, where data is available.

About Pyramid Model Consortium

In its SVG file, hover over a pyramid to highlight and click for its article. Only a few caches of artifacts have been found in and around the pyramid.

Obsidian arrowheads and human figurines have been discovered inside the pyramid and similar objects have been found at the nearby Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent in the Ciudadela. These objects may have represented sacrificial victims. A unique historical artifact discovered near the foot of the pyramid at the end of the nineteenth century was the Teotihuacan Ocelot, which is now in the British Museum's collection.[11] In addition, burial sites of children have been found in excavations at the corners of the pyramid.

It is believed that these burials were part of a sacrificial ritual dedicating the building of the pyramid. Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2014. Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2014. Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2014.

Early Civilizations in the Americas Reference Library. Benson, Sarah Hermsen, and Deborah J. 2: Almanac, Vol. Detroit: UXL, 2005. Student Resources in Context.