Location: Valley of Mexico
Researcher: Sherry Zang
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The Impact of Historical Preservation on Urban Areas:
The study of the relationship between Teotihuacan and the municipality of San Juan Teotihuacan.
The civilization of Teotihuacan flourished between 0 and 850 Common Era. The reasons for it's collapse are unknown. According to the topographic map both Mexico City and San Juan Teotihucan are located in the Valley of Mexico. Teotihuacan is 48 km northeast of modern-day Mexico City, known today as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Colombian Americas.
Around 700CE the city contained between 150,000-250,000 inhabitants and was likely the largest city in the world. It was a highly stratified society, with citizens inhabiting different zones of the city based on their status. It was broken down by the home of the elites, the homes of craftsmen, and the laborers or poor. The elite typically lived near the monumental core. These houses were typically compounds that were capable of housing 60-100 families and made of plaster. Craftsmen, neither rich nor poor, inhabited an in-between zone. The homes of the poor were found outside of the city spreading into rural areas that surrounded the urban core.
The modern city of San Juan Teotihuacan intersects with the footprint of the ancient city of Teotihuacan and is situated just west of the monumental core. Based on the topographic map the northern boundary of the modern city seems determined by the edge of the adjacent hills.
At the site of Teotihuacan there is physical evidence of purposeful urban plannng from the beginning of its history. The urban plan was designed to glorify the gods and to sanctify the city and its landscape. This is physically perceived through its distinct grid layout with a central axis running north and south of the city known as the Avenue of the Dead. The plan was also intended to establish the alignment of cardinal points of two significant pyramids- the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon- which pointed to the north where a mountain that was sacred was located. These monuments exploit its purposeful planning of this urban site as being the religious center.
Compared to the ancient city, the modern city of San Juan Teotihuacan is built based on the highway connecting the historic site of the ancient city and modern day Mexico City. This is, at least in part, likely to take advantage of the ongoing historic preservation and tourism economies. The waterway of the modern city is one of the main factors in forming the urban morphology, forming the southern boundary. In the ancient city the waterway was strictly canalized and goes through the middle of the city, just to the south of the monumental core.