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Teotihuacan’s suburbs at ground level

Teotihuacan’s suburbs at ground level


When I walked across the 2 1/2 miles of worn out farmland between the Pyramid of the Moon and the base of Cerro Gordo, I could have easily filled a 55 gallon drum with potsherds that my feet crossed over.  It was astonishing how large and densely populated that city was.  Some of the pottery and several of the earthen mounds appeared to be much older than Teotihuacan, perhaps dating from the dawn of pottery-making in Central Mexico around 900 BC.  I also found ancient, under-fired figurines that expressed typical Olmec Civilization themes, like a jaguar eating a human skeleton.  Part of the area I walked on is now a Super-Walmart.

I am currently finishing up the second Youtube video on Teotihuacan and thought you would like to see some of what I saw so long ago.  These are scenes that are gone with the wind.  There is something else you should be aware of.  There was almost no difference between the folk pottery of Teotihuacan,  Chichen Itza, Palenque and the proto-Creek towns in Georgia.  If my plastic containers were not labeled, I would  find it very difficult to discern from which town’s or city’s ruins these came from. 

The Mesoamerican pottery and statuary that you seen in museums was made by elite artisans for the elite . . . who composed at most, about 5% of the population.  Otherwise there was very little difference in the houses and home furnishings of the Mesoamerican regular folk and the Proto-Creek regular folk.  Perhaps the Creek’s ancestors had more furniture, because of the abundance of wood and river cane, while the Mesoamericans ate a much wider variety of vegetables and fruits. 

When I was living in Cartersville near Etowah Mounds in 1996, I took some of my potsherds from the suburbs of Chichen Itza to an artifact identification event at Etowah Mounds.  I had just moved from Virginia, so none of the archaeologists in Georgia knew me.  Likewise, I knew very little about my own Creek-Uchee heritage, but was trying to learn, while living so close to the Etowah museum.  As a joke, I told the three archaeologists that I found the potsherds “when I was in the suburbs” . . . not telling them that it was the suburbs of Chichen Itza.

Well . . . they all assumed that I meant the Atlanta suburbs!  They classified all the potsherds as being plain, shell-tempered redware from either the first or second phase of Etowah’s occupation or perhaps traded from Ocmulgee National Monument.  They didn’t believe me when I said that the potsherds came from Chichen Itza.  One said that it was impossible, since this was shell-tempered pottery.  I responded that I didn’t know that shell-tempered redware was made anywhere, but in southern Mexico.  They quickly wanted to move on to the next person in line.

Most of the site of the city of Teotihuacan was then in agricultural use.  Commercial and residential development has now crept up to its edge.


On the left is an ancient mound with no evidence of stone masonry.


About 2000 years ago the entire valley was swampy. Now only a few areas have surface water.


Both these scenes today would be filled with small concrete block houses and unpaved streets.


The ruins of a large building with lime plaster smeared into the soil. Stone ruins extend into the grass.


Ruins of the aqueduct that came down Cerro Gordo.  An ancient basin was recently re-plastered.


The roof of the aqueduct has collapsed at this location.


Thousands of obsidian blades, atlatl points and arrowheads littered the ground in front of an ancient stone wall on the crest of Cerro Gordo.


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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Is History TV correct-only about 10% of this site has been uncovered and only recently satellite photos uncovered many more buried structures?

    • Absolutely true. In fact, I would say it was less 10%. I walked for 2 1/2 miles and never stopped seeing dense deposits of artifacts in the soil. Only about 3% of Etowah Mounds has been excavated.


    Richard, no matter what these universities books types have said they discard any scientific data that places man on this landmass a long time before the Clovis people….that pyramid of the Sun was covered with 10 feet of dirt and are we to believe it was built only around 100 AD? The Sun pyramid was built over a more ancient mega stones pyramid? A more advanced bronze / stone age civilization (than what we have been taught) seems to connect Mexico / Peru / Europe / China / the Mediterranean with “ley lines” technology. When the massive climate change started in the 9000’s BC time period for the Earth… many new peoples arrived to this landmass and built over a more advanced peoples temples who had mostly been wiped out by massive tidal waves and climate change. Somebody needs to reset all those history books back to at least 200,000 years ago for Sea fairing peoples moving around the Earth.


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