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Teotihuacan's Social Tensions Contributed to Its Fall

时间: 2015年03月24日 | 作者: | 来源: 科学美国人

Teotihuacán in central Mexico is an archaeological site, a cultural landmark and a tourist attraction, best known for its pyramids and plaza. But nearly 2,000 years ago, it was a powerful urban center, home to more than 150,000 people.

 

It was also one of the best planned and most diverse of such preindustrial cities—because migrants of different ethnicities streamed in following the eruptions of two volcanoes in southern Mexico that made their own homes less desirable. And as Teotihuacán grew stronger, it attracted additional migrant work forces. These newcomers tended to serve as craftspeople, construction workers, musicians and military personnel.

 

Now researchers have developed methodology to study the remains of one multiethnic neighborhood, using paleopathology, nutritional status and DNA, along with other techniques. And they’ve found that migrant groups appear to have competed amongst each other to obtain high-status goods and to manufacture items in demand by the city’s elites. The study is in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Linda R. Manzanilla, Cooperation and tensions in multiethnic corporate societies using Teotihuacan, Central Mexico, as a case study]

 

Study author Linda Manzanilla of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México also points out that the city’s rulers controlled the flow of all raw materials coming in to Teotihuacán. She further suggests that the lower class immigrants’ competition with each other, the intermediate elite gaining economic power, and the ruling elite’s control over raw materials may have combined to contribute to the cultural tension that ultimately led to Teotihuacán’s collapse. Sound familiar?

 

—Cynthia Graber

 

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]