c. 900 - c. 1150
The Toltec civilization flourishes in Mesoamerica.
1100 - 1200
The Valley of Mexico is first settled by migrating tribes (Chichimecs, Tepanecs, Mexica and Acolhua).
c. 1345 - 1521
The Aztec civilization flourishes in Mesoamerica.
The Mixcoatl's main body, made of wood, resembles two canoes with one placed on top of the other. Four wings are positioned underneath it. Ώ]
The Mixcoatl is constructed out of wood, cloth and obsidian, with no metal parts. The craft is capable of gliding by hovering at high speeds over the surface of the ocean, using its wings to keep itself steady. In case it gets stuck in land, it can use its wings as feet to move around. By increasing the output of its hovering, the Mixcoatl can jump over 200 meters Ώ] or even temporarily fly. ΐ]
The Mixcoatl carries several arrowhead-like missiles that use an hydrogen propellant, firing them from a small hole that opens on the lower front of the craft. Additionally, the Mixcoatl can initiate a self-destruct sequence, in which the craft will detonate its remaining missiles and reserves of liquid hydrogen to create a large explosion. Ώ]
The Mixcoatl's cockpit can be ejected from the main body by the pilot, and the Mixcoatl will continue moving and fighting on its own using an autopilot-like mode. Ώ]
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Toltec, Nahuatl-speaking tribe who held sway over what is now central Mexico from the 10th to the 12th century ce . The name has many meanings: an “urbanite,” a “cultured” person, and, literally, the “reed person,” derived from their urban centre, Tollan (“Place of the Reeds”), near the modern town of Tula, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Mexico City.
The Toltecs sacked and burned the great city of Teotihuacán about 900 ce . Tradition tells that this occurred under the leadership of Mixcóatl (“Cloud Serpent”). Under his son, Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl, they formed a number of small states of various ethnic origins into an empire later in the 10th century. The ruler Topiltzin introduced the cult of Quetzalcóatl (“Feathered Serpent”), which name he adopted. This cult and others, as well as the Toltec military orders of the Coyote, the Jaguar, and the Eagle, were introduced into important Mayan cities to the south in Yucatán, such as Chichén Itzá and Mayapán, indicating the broad influence of the Toltecs.
The advent of the Toltecs marked the rise of militarism in Mesoamerica. They also were noted as builders and craftsmen and have been credited with the creation of fine metalwork, monumental porticoes, serpent columns, gigantic statues, carved human and animal standard-bearers, and peculiar reclining Chac Mool figures. Beginning in the 12th century, the invasion of the nomadic Chichimec destroyed the Toltec hegemony in central Mexico. Among the invaders were the Aztecs, or Mexica, who destroyed Tollan about the mid-12th century. See also Mesoamerican civilization.
Toltec People Build their Capital at Tula, Mexico
The origin of the Toltec people is still shrouded in mystery, but archaeological records show that they first appeared around the time when the Maya civilization in Mexico had collapsed between 800 and 900/1100 AD. These mysterious people spoke an Uto-Aztecan language called Nahuatl. They were probably the descendants of the Chichimecas. A nomadic Nahua people from the north and the Nonoalcas, the Mesoamerican people who migrated from the Teotihuacan area. The Toltec people had a reputation as highly-skilled artisans, doctors, merchants, and astronomers. They made great innovations in agriculture and writing during the peak of the Toltec civilization. The building of the Tolec’s capital in Tula, Mexico is recorded on the Biblical Timeline with World History around 900 AD.
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The origin of the Toltec capital of Tula was just as mysterious as the people who lived there. Its story was entwined with the wind god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and the ruler-priest Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl. The Toltec, just like other Mesoamerican people, considered the god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl as the most powerful in their pantheon and the creator of the world. He was the supreme god of the city of Tula. The Toltec decorated every corner of the city with statues of the Plumed Serpent, the representation of this deity. Apart from his role as the creator of the world, the Toltec also revered him as the creator of civilization and identified him with the legendary Toltec hero Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl.
Topiltzin and the Foundation of Tula
Topiltzin was the city’s supreme god, priest, warrior, and ruler all rolled into one. His father was the demigod and conqueror Mixcoatl (Serpent of the Clouds) while his mother was Chimalman, the goddess of fertility. In his youth, Topiltzin became a mighty warrior and accompanied his father in various conquests. He rose to political and priestly greatness after his father’s death, then peacefully led the Toltec people to the city of Tula and established it as their capital. In another version of this myth, Topiltzin and the Toltec people conquered Tula which was already a civilized city-state.
He commissioned the construction of temples in the city and turned it into a center for worship of Quetzalcoatl. Topiltzin and the Toltec enriched the city with innovations in agriculture and the arts, which made it a gem in the Mesoamerican world. But the glory days of Tula did not last when the god Tezcatlipoca arrived and lured Topiltzin to abandon his priestly responsibilities. The people he ruled died from plagues, starvation, and wars because of Topiltzin’s fall from grace. So he decided to go into exile with his followers to the underworld where he set himself on fire and was later reborn as the Morning Star.
In another version of the story, Topiltzin was a compassionate ruler who did not favor the Mesoamerican practice of human sacrifice. He decreed that only snakes and butterflies should be sacrificed instead. The god Tezcatlipoca did not want human sacrifice to end, so he tricked Topiltzin and his sister out of their priestly duty of penance and lured them to get drunk all night long. Topiltzin was so ashamed the morning after that he decided to go away from Tula into exile with his followers. Before he left the city, he burned his home and all his possessions. Then he traveled to the Gulf of Mexico where cremated himself and turned into the Morning Star.
Another ending was that upon reaching the Gulf of Mexico, Topiltzin rode a serpent-shaped raft which traveled to the east with a promise that he would return to Tula someday to reclaim his kingdom.
Tula continued to exist after the rule and exile of the legendary Topiltzin, but its golden age only lasted less than a century until the Toltec people were just as mysteriously driven out of the city around 1050 AD.
An icon of Mexica (Aztec) art, this striking object was probably worn on ceremonial occasions as a pectoral (an ornament worn on the chest). It is carved in wood (Cedrela odorata) and covered with turquoise mosaic. The wood is hollowed at the back.
Serpent imagery occurs throughout the religious iconography of Mesoamerica. The serpent played a very important role in Aztec religion. The word for serpent in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, is coatl and is associated with several gods such as Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent), Xiuhcoatl (Fire Serpent), Mixcoatl (Cloud Serpent) or Coatlicue (She of the Serpent Skirt), the mother of the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. The habit of snakes to shed their skin each year probably led to them being used to convey ideas concerning renewal and transformation. Likewise the ability of many species to move freely between water, earth and the forest canopy helped underline their symbolic role as intermediaries between the different layers of the cosmos (underworld, earth and sky).
Head of Serpent (detail), Mosaic of a Double-headed Serpent, c. 15th-16th century, cedrela wood, turquoise, pine resin, oyster shell, hematite, and copal, 20.5 x 43.3 x 6.5 cm, Mexico © Trustees of the British Museum
The word coatl is also part of many place names, such as Coatepec (“the hill of the serpents”). Coatepec is the birthplace of the god Huitzilopochtli, the principal Aztec god, and thus one of the most important places in Aztec mythology.
Back of Serpent (detail), Mosaic of a Double-headed Serpent, c. 15th-16th century, cedrela wood, turquoise, pine resin, oyster shell, hematite, and copal, 20.5 x 43.3 x 6.5 cm, Mexico © Trustees of the British Museum
Serpents were also used as architectural elements, for example, a wall of serpents (coatepantli) was often used to mark out sacred spaces within a ceremonial area. At the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, such a wall surrounded part of the Great Temple, which was the ritual focus for the entire city.
Spondylus (thorny oyster) shell was used for the bright red details around the nose and mouth of both of this object’s serpent heads. Strombus (conch) shell was used for the white teeth. Within the gaping mouths the resin adhesive was colored bright red with hematite. Beeswax adheres to the edges of the empty eye sockets which were probably originally inlaid, perhaps with iron pyrites.
The reverse of the body is undecorated, although the surface may have originally been gilded, but the heads are worked in mosaic on both sides. Resins from pine and Bursera (copal) were used as adhesives for the mosaic.
C. R. Cartwright and N. D. Meeks, “Aztec conch shell working: high- tech design,” British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 1, (2007), 35-42.
C. McEwan, A. Middleton, C.R. Cartwright, R. Stacey, Turquoise mosaics from Mexico (London, The British Museum Press, 2006).
C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British Museum (London, The British Museum Press, 1994).
R. J. Stacey, C. R. Cartwright and C. McEwan “Chemical Characterization of Ancient Mesoamerican ‘Copal’ Resins: Preliminary Results.” Archaeometry 48, (2006), 323-340.
The Post Classic Period ( 900 – 1521 ) Part 1
While data on early Mesoamerican cultures has been deduced primarily from archaeological evidence, historians have utilized the written records of later cultures to produce the final chapters of pre-hispanic Mexico. Having reached a cultural plateau, no significant intellectual or scientific growth was noted among societies of the Post-Classic period. Their tendency instead was to put acquired knowledge into practice.
The era is marked by the shifting of political power from the priesthood to the warrior elite. In parallel, the practice of human sacrifices came to a crescendo to appease increasingly blood-thirsty gods. In addition, with the rise of these militaristic societies the object of armed conflict became more a matter of dominating subject states for the purpose of exacting tribute rather than for territorial gain.
Teotihuacan had long served as a buffer between civilized central Mexico and the Chichimecas, barbaric nomads inhabiting arid lands to the north.
After the disappearance of the Maya, the Toltecs swept into the central valley, establishing their capital at Culhuacan under the leadership of Mixcoatl. His son and heir was the legendary Ce Acatl Topiltzin, meaning One Reed (the year of his birth) Our Prince. A high priest of the cult of Quetzalcoatl, Topiltzin became the Toltec’s leader after killing his uncle, Mixcoatl’s assassin. An enlightened ruler, he is attributed with founding Tula, a splendid new capital city where he promoted peace and prosperity.
Topiltzin’s reverence for the Plumed Serpent, whose name he adopted, and his abhorrence of human sacrifice, roused the ire of devotees of the fearsome Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror), ancestral supreme deity of the Toltecs. Through intrigue and trickery, the dissidents finally prevailed, forcing Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl into exile. With a troop of followers he set off for the holy city of Cholula and later sailed off into the Gulf of Mexico, emerging in the Yucatan where, under the Mayan moniker Kukulcan, he invaded Chichen Itza. Meanwhile, he sent word back to Tula to expect his return from the east in one of cyclically recurring Ce Acatl years. This prophecy is strongly linked to the Aztec’s swift capitulation to the Spaniards some 500 years later.
In Tula, Toltec society grew increasingly militaristic. The knightly orders of jaguar and eagle warriors and the practice of massive human sacrifices are likely to have begun there. The heavily fortified city took on a somber air as war and death became the dominant themes in stone work. Curiously, Tula’s idiosyncratic warrior statues, the great Atlantes, are apparently representations not of Tezcatlipoca, but of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, the Plumed Serpent in his guise as Morning Star.
The influence of the Toltecs was widespread. Artifacts bearing traits of the culture have appeared throughout much of Mexico and even in far off sites in the U.S. southwest and southeast. The Toltecs mysteriously disappeared in the 11th Ccentury.
Tula was violently laid to waste in the 12th century, probably at the hand of a people called the Chichimecas, believed to have arrived about a century after the Toltecs’ disappearance. Their civilization was far inferior to that of the Toltecs and the 18th century Mexican historian Mariano Veyta describes them as “burrowing in caves or, at best, in cabins of straw.”
Aztecs had multiple Aztec goddesses of motherhood and fertility. One important goddess among these was Cihuacoatl who was sometimes also known as Quilaztli.
She was the patroness of the city of Culhuacan and, according to the Aztec mythology, helped the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl create the current human race by using the bones of the previous races.
Her artistic depictions sometimes show her as a young women while at other times she is depicted as a skull-faced old woman holding the spears and shield of a warrior.
Aztec Goddess Mayahuel The Aztec goddess associated with maguey plants was known as Mayahuel.
Maya Civilization in Southern Mexico Collapses
The Maya civilization in Southern Mexico centered around the present-day states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, and Chiapas. The Preclassic and Classic Periods marked the Maya civilization’s golden age in Southern Mexico when cities such as Calakmul and Palenque rose to prominence. Towns and villages that surrounded these major urban areas increased to accommodate the rapidly growing population during the Maya golden age. While divine rulers commissioned the construction of great palaces, monuments, and temples. The collapse of the Maya civilization in Southern Mexico is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History during 850 AD.These Articles are Written by the Publishers of The Amazing Bible Timeline
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By 800 AD, the Maya civilization in Southern Mexico was on the brink of collapse which continued until the 12th century. The construction of massive palaces and stone monuments stopped during this period, while fewer hieroglyphic texts were inscribed in temples and palaces. Records of Kings the Maya considered divine disappeared while most of the people abandoned the major cities in the southern lowland region. The Postclassic Period marked the continued decline of the other Maya cities that somehow escaped the fate of their once-great neighbors.
Possible Reasons for the Collapse
Several events that occurred hundreds of years before the actual decline contributed to the eventual collapse of the Maya civilization in Southern Mexico. One of these long-term events was climate change, specifically the atmospheric shifts which caused a series of droughts in 760, 810, 860, and 910 AD. The southern lowland region was vulnerable to these droughts because:
* The areas on which they lived had fewer groundwater sources which made the Maya people more dependent on rainfall.
* The Maya used agricultural practices that needed more water to irrigate the fields.
* The conversion of land to farms which led to widespread deforestation and increase in temperature in the region (it made the weather warmer).
* The rapid growth of the Maya population.
Internal conflicts and rebellions also contributed to the collapse of the Maya civilization in Southern Mexico. Archaeologists found evidence of mutilation of the rulers’ stone monuments. The mutilators spared the representations of peasants which led to the theory that a rebellion led by the peasants exploded within their communities. The series of droughts and the elite’s exploitation of the peasants who were displaced from their land probably lit the fuse of this rebellion. In addition, the Maya kings instilled in their people a belief in their rulers’ divinity, and that they could alter the weather conditions whenever they wanted to bring rain on their parched lands. However, the droughts continued, and this failure became a sign that the gods had withdrawn their favor from their kings or that they were mere mortals after all.
The outbreak of yellow fever among the Maya people and their death from this disease could also be a factor for their decline between 800 and 1000 AD. The onset of this disease was linked to deforestation which drove out the animals from the forest who were the main carriers of the virus (monkeys and mosquitoes) and into the Maya communities. Other possible factors include foreign invasions and the changes in trade network which saw the rise of sea trade and the decline of inland trade routes. This favored the communities that lived near the coast, while the lowland Maya declined in importance after this shift in trade networks.
Persia, Syria and North Africa Become Mohammedan
Islam was one of the religious movements which spread quickly at the onset because of the Muslim active conquests during the seventh century. Unlike Christianity which took hundreds of years before it became the state religion of the Roman Empire (through the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD), Mohammed lived to see the day when various Arab tribes were united under the banner of Islam. Mohammed did not name an heir to his role as Prophet and leader of the ummah (community) before he died, but the Rashidun caliphate that succeeded him ensured that his legacy would continue even beyond the Arab world. Persia, Syria and North Africa became Mohammedan between 630 – 711 AD according to the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History.These Articles are Written by the Publishers of The Amazing Bible Timeline
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Out of Arabia
The first trickle of Islamic conquest started in the Battle of Mu’tah (in Kerak, modern Jordan) led by Mohammed himself against the Byzantine Empire. For Abu Bakr, the man who replaced Mohammed as leader of the ummah (Muslim community), there was no time to waste after Mohammed’s death in 632 AD. In 633, he sent General Khalid and his forces to attack the Persian king Yazdegerd III. Four other generals were ordered to march north along with their troops to conquer the Byzantine provinces of Syria and Palestine.
Byzantine, at that time, was ruled by the emperor Heraclius. The empire was weakened after years of battles with the Persians. The Byzantines put up a great fight and proved too much for the four generals that were initially sent to go against them. Abu Bakr recalled Khalid from the Persian front (to Yazdegerd’s relief) and reinforced the troops that fought in the Syrian-Palestinian front. The Byzantines were soundly defeated, and the Muslim troops captured the city of Damascus.
Abu Bakr would not be credited as the one who captured the Byzantine provinces of Syria and Palestine as he died two years into his short reign. He was replaced by his son-in-law, Omar, who led an even greater offensive against the Byzantines and captured Syria as well as Palestine. Jerusalem was captured in 638 AD. Khalid returned to the Persian front to finish what he had started back when Abu Bakr was alive. He besieged Ctesiphon, the Persian capital, in the same year and deposed Yazdegerd III, who then fled east with his court.
To emperor Heraclius’ dismay, the Arabs stormed all the way to Egypt in 639 and wrested the province from Byzantine. He had to console himself that at least Alexandria was still under Byzantine rule, but it was not enough. After years of fighting, he died of a stroke in 641 with most of the empire’s territories now in Muslim control. Alexandria held out long enough until it also fell to the Arab armies in 642 AD. Omar sent a military expedition east into the farthest reaches of Persia until the army reached the hostile desert of Makran. This daring expedition went on until they reached the gateway to India, the Indus River itself.
The Arabs in Egypt were also busy with their transformation of the province into a Muslim stronghold. They built a new capital which they named Fostat (modern Cairo) and continued westward to the former Roman province of North Africa. The Muslims captured Carthage and called the North African inhabitants Berbers who were quickly recruited as part of their army.
The Persian king Yazdegerd was still on the run and wandered around some parts of his former empire to elude the Arab army at his heels. He and his whole court went to Khorasan to seek refuge, but he was murdered by a stonecutter after he fled assassins sent by the governor of Khorasan. His death officially ended the rule of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia and started the rule of the Rashidun caliphate in Persia.
By 644 AD, the assassination of Omar left the position of the Caliph vacant. Uthman, one of the Prophet’s companions, took over as Caliph, but his government was so mired in corruption that he earned the resentment of the people. He was so hated that when he was brutally assassinated by the people of Medina, his body was left to rot in the courtyard for three days they also refused to have him buried in a Muslim cemetery. He was buried instead in a Jewish cemetery. Ali, Mohammed’s son-in-law, replaced Uthman, but his rule was met with hostility by the Banu Ummaya clan led by one of the Prophet’s wives, Aisha. This struggle for power ended with Ali’s assassination, and he was replaced by Muawiyah, a member of the Banu Ummaya clan as caliph.
Most of North Africa had converted to Islam by the early 700 AD, and the caliph Al-Malik ordered the new converts, the Berbers, to learn and speak Arabic. The new religion and language cemented Arabs and Berbers together. The Berbers would later serve in the Muslim army during the conquest of Hispania.
Ometeotl, the God that Didn’t Exist
Ometeotl is perhaps the most widely embraced concept within the Mexicayotl community and throughout the years, its original meaning has morphed into such ideas as monotheistic god, energy, and duality. What most people don’t know is that the word Ometeotl first appeared in secondary sources written by Miguel Leon-Portilla, La Filosofia Nahuatl and Aztec Thought and Culture and appears nowhere in any of the primary sources. After examination of Leon-Portilla work, it is clear that he either intentionally or unintentionally invented the word. Although Ometeotl is grammatically correct, it is not an Indigenous Nahuatl word. There is nothing wrong ordinarily with creating words and native speakers create words all the time. We see examples of this with words like tepoztototl (airplane) which surely did not exist in pre-cuauhtemoc times. However, Leon-portilla’s Ometeotl is problematic for many reasons. First, Leon-Portilla bases his entire conception of Ometeotl on five primary sources, which, upon closer inspection, do not contain the word Ometeotl at all. Second, he cites text from sources and claims they describe Ometeotl, when in all of these sources, it is clear that the original text is describing a different teotl. Third, the way Leon-Portilla describes Ometeotl is very similar to the nepantla aspect of teotl which has been thoroughly researched by James Maffie. Maffie has expanded Leon-Portilla’s original thesis that our ancestors did indeed develop philosophy independently from the Greeks while also successfully cross-referencing many different sources to accurately define teotl. As a result, I am proposing that we stop using ometeotl since its origin is fabricated and does not properly represent Pre-Cuauhtemoc philosophy. The native Nahuatl concepts of teotl and nepantla are much more precise and valid alternatives to Ometeotl, and they successfully encompass the way Ometeotl is used by many people today.
In his Filosofia Nahuatl, Leon-Portilla starts off by claiming “Ometeotl is the cosmic principle by which all that exists is conceived and begotten.” The only commentary he gives on this significant claim is that “Torquemada attempts to explain this unified masculine-feminine being: ‘it might be said, that these Indians wanted the Divine Nature shared by two gods (two persons) who were men and wife.” From this point Leon-Portilla jumps to the conclusion that “thus the wise men, anxious to give greater vitality and richness to their concept of the supreme being, gave him many names, laying the foundation for a comprehensive vision of the dual and ubiquitous deity (Aztec Thought and Culture by Miguel Leon-Portilla, pages 83 and 89).” Furthermore, he explained that the true nature of Ometeotl was a “god of duality” shared by Ometeuctli, “lord of duality” and Omecihuatl, “lady of duality (Fray Juan de Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, facsimile of the 1723 edition, ed. Miguel Leon-Portilla, 3 vols. Mexico: Editorial Porrua, 1986, 2:37).” Leon-Portilla’s interpretation of Torquemada incorrectly led him to assume the Aztec (Mexica) believed in a male/female unitary dual figure -Ometeotl (Bare Bones: Rethinking Mesoamerican Divinity by Richard Haly. History of Religions. Vol. 31, No.3, Feb., 1992, pp.269-304, page 278).
From this starting point, in both Filosofia Nahuatl and Aztec Thought and Culture, Leon-Portilla repeatedly imposes Ometeotl where it is not found in an attempt to provide evidence to his creation. On page 80 of Aztec Though and Culture, Leon-Portilla translates a poem from the Cantares Mexicanos and translates the word omeycac in the third line as god of duality when in fact it does not refer to ometeotl at all but to stand two-wise (Bare Bones: Rethinking Mesoamerican Divinity by Richard Haly. History of Religions. Vol. 31, No.3, Feb., 1992, pp.269-304, page 275). On page 85, Leon-Portilla goes on to translate line six of a song from the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca as “the god of duality is at work,” but in the original text the word is spelled ayometeotl (ayotl, juicy + metl, maguey + teotl) which is more accurately translated as “it is the teotl of the juicy maguey” which also makes more sense considering the song is about drinking (Bare Bones: Rethinking Mesoamerican Divinity by Richard Haly. History of Religions. Vol. 31, No.3, Feb., 1992, pp.269-30 page 276). The third source used is the post-Cuauhtemoc codex named the Codex Rios and is also known as Codex Vaticanus 3738. Page 1v of the Codex Rios depicts the thirteen heavens and a teotl who is said to reside in the thirteenth level, Omeyocan, whose name is written in Italian Hometeule which is translated as “lord of three.” The Italian text describes Hometeule as “the creator of all, the first cause.” Upon further examination, it turns out the image presented on page 1v is actually Tonacateuctli and not a distinct teotl named Hometeule which many people attempt to interpret as Ometeotl. The codex is therefore substantially modified by European interpretation and is clearly attempting to infuse ideas about the trinity (Bare Bones: Rethinking Mesoamerican Divinity by Richard Haly. History of Religions. Vol. 31, No.3, Feb., 1992, pages 276-277).
Folio 1v (of Vaticanus A also known as Codex Rios) on the left depicting Omeyocan with the name Hometeule attached the figure. Folio 12v depicting the same exact figure as Tonatecuhtli, patron of 1-Cipactli, the first trecena.
The fourth source commonly used as a reference to Ometeotl is the sixteenth-century Historia de los Mexicanos por sus Pinturas by Andres del Olmos. In the work he talks about how Tonacateuctli and Tonacacihuatl created four sons, “the fourth and smallest they called Omiteuctli…known to the Mexica as Huitzilopochtli” Although very close to Ometeotl, Omiteuctli translates to omitl bone + teuctli lord. Folio. 52 of the Codex Tudela clearly depicts Omteuctli as a teotl with exposed bones which supports the translation (Bare Bones: Rethinking Mesoamerican Divinity by Richard Haly. History of Religions. Vol. 31, No.3, Feb., 1992, pp.278-282).
In addition to the primary source references, Leon-Portilla also unsuccessfully attempts to attach descriptions of other Teteoh to Ometeotl. For example, on page 102 of Aztec Thought and Culture, Leon-Portilla claims Yohualli-Ehecatl was a title designated for Ometeotl while in sources such as the Florentine Codex, it is clear that the title belongs to Tezcatlipoca (The Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya by Mary Miller and Karl Taube, page 164). On page 91, Leon-Portilla goes on to claim that Tloque in Nahuaque, Ipalnemohuani, and Moyocoyani are all attempts to describe the “Lord of duality.” Then on page 30, he boldy claims that Tonacatecuhtli and Tonacacihuatl are in reality Ometeotl with no other explanation. It should be noted that Angel Garibay, another scholar identified to be associated with the early leaders of the Mexicayotl, has attempted to further legitimize Leon-Portilla’s work through his own writings. In Garibay’s Historia de la Literatura Nahuatl, volume 1, page 129, he also references the ayometeotl from the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca but completely drops the ay- and boldly rewrites it as Ometeotl. Garibay has gone so far as to attempt to insert Ometeotl into his 1979 translation of the Histoire Du Mechique, originally published in French by Andre Thevet in 1543. On page 144 of the original French text, we see the sentence “avoyt ung dieu nome Teotli, que vault dire ‘deux dieux’ translated by Garibay as “habia un dios llamado Ometeotl que quiere decir ‘dos dioses’.” The Teotli in the French text is replaced with Garibay’s text as Ometeotl which is clearly incorrect even to those who can’t read Spanish or French. In addition, “deux diuex” means “two gods” and Thevet’s original text shows that it was not intended to describe two gods in one.
Many within the movement who continue to describe Ometeotl using Leon-Portilla’s interpretation as a monotheistic god of duality are routinely berated with statements such as “our ancestors didn’t have gods, that’s a Eurocentric concept.” On the other hand, people who are proponents of Ometeotl as energy are typically berated while being described as New Agers. When we review the available evidence, it becomes clear that teotl represents both of these seemingly opposing ideas. Sixty years after Leon-Portilla first announced to the world that our ancestors did indeed have philosophy, James Maffie further developed this idea in his monumental work, Aztec Philosophy. After reviewing the sources, Maffie comes to the conclusion that Ometeotl does not fit into the philosophical framework of our ancestors. Maffie’s work is the last nail in the coffin of Ometeotl and it establishes Teotl rather than Ometeotl as the basis of everything in the universe.
In his book titled Aztec Philosophy, James Maffie’s describes teotl as energy driven by four different interrelated processes: olin, malinalli, nepantla, and time-place. These four concepts underlie the interrelated and interpenetrating microprocesses which describe how teotl moves. Olin is defined as both motion and movement and is closely related to another meaning of olin which is rubber ball because “rubber jumps around as if it is alive.” Olin as a life energy rises and falls, swings back and forth, and pulsates doing so in a manner that is orderly, rhythmic, cyclical and predictable. Mallinalli translates to “that which has been twisted” and derives from the verb malina meaning “to twist.” This twisting transforms something disorderly into something orderly and well arranged something weak into something strong something useless into something useful and as a result it is the manner in which motion-change is ordered into something beneficial from the standpoint of human beings. Malinalli is thus the transformative aspect of teotl. Nepantla is the aspect of teotl that we are most familiar with because it is the one which Leon-Portilla chose to elaborate on in his discussions of Ometeotl and is the one aspect that is most closely related to his concept of duality. Nepantla is based on the idea that motion-change define the basic working of the cosmos and reality consists of a never-ending process of commingling, interweaving, intersecting, middling, unifying, and balancing. The most prominent representations of nepantla are the recurring theme that the cosmos is a grand weaving in progress and the consistent male and female Teteoh depicted together. While analyzing the Cihuateteo for example, it becomes immediately clear that the concepts found within teotl are constantly at play. In one account, they are described as spinners who had woven nothing and unable to fulfill themselves as weavers while alive on earth, the Cihuateteo searched the earth for the weaving instruments they had left behind at death and also for the child they never bore in hopes of fulfilling themselves after death and achieving balance as mothers thus explaining their existence through nepantla. Time-place is based upon the fundamental observation that our ancestors conceived of time and place as inseparably fused together forming a single seamless continuum. This results in the idea that all places are timed and all times are placed. Time-place is how teotl moves therefore it is both how the fabric of the cosmos weaves itself and how the woven fabric of the cosmos is woven (Aztec Philosophy, ebook version, by James Maffe, pages 1-2265).
Although Teteoh such as Tezcatlipoca, Cihuateteo, Quetzalcoatl, and Chalchiutlicue do indeed have god-like qualities it is important to remember they are not superior to teotl but are made of teotl and are subject to its processes. This is why they are all associated with directions and calendar dates, have a pair from the opposite sex, and transform aspects of teotl into something beneficial for humans. They are supernatural in the sense that they typically do things that humans can not do and they can access areas of the universe that humans typically can not. For example, Tlaloc resides in Tlalocan, an area of the universe not typically accessible to humans and Quetzalcoatl travelled to Mictlan to make humans out of bones he found there. Mictlan and Tlalocan are supernatural realms which are only accessible to humans after death however some humans such as the nahualli and the tlacatecolotl were perceived to share some of these supernatural abilities to access Mictlan and Tlalocan through various means. Because of the existence of such Teteoh with supernatural abilities, the word teotl has been consistently translated to God by both Natives and non-Natives which is problematic considering our examination of teotl above.
An examination of the Cihuateteo will provide an excellent opportunity to develop a clearer understanding of why the word teotl has historically been translated to God. The Cihuateteo along with many of the other Teteoh have god-like qualities in the sense that they are supernatural beings who are capable of intervening in human lives. The Cihuateteo were female warriors who died in childbirth and upon their death, they continued to live with Tonatiuh while he traveled from his zenith to sunset (The Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya by Mary Miller and Karl Taube, page 61). Linguistically, this is supported in the word cihuatlampa which corresponds to the western direction (Nahuatl-English English-Nahuatl by Fermin Herrera, page 70). Considering teotl encompasses time and place, it is no surprise that the Cihuateteo are firmly linked with those days associated with the west. The five days which are also trecenas assigned to the west are: 1 Mazatl, 1 Quiahuitl, 1 Ozomatli, 1 Calli, and 1 Cuauhtli. It was on these days that the Ciahuateteo were believed to return to Earth to haunt crossroads and to steal children and hurt them presumably because they didn’t have the chance to have children of their own (The Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya by Mary Miller and Karl Taube, page 61-62). The Pre-Cuauhtemoc evidence for the cihuateteo as god-like figures is very strong and it is clear they held a prominent place in the pantheon. In the Aubin Manuscript No . 20, we see depictions of the five cihuateteo with their associated days below them and the macuiltonaleque (fallen male warriors who accompany the sun form sunrise to zenith) opposite them. These same images are repeated in the Codex Borgia and Codex Vaticanus B.
In addition to native writing, there are also numerous sculptures currently held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The same days we find in the Aubin are carved on the tops of each of figure’s head and were probably once placed in a shrine dedicated to the Cihuateteo in Tenochtitlan (In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/00.5.30. October 2006).
The shrines for them were named the cihuateocaltin and they were located in all neighborhoods at the crossroads where offerings were made during the days of their descent to earth. As the people made offerings to the Cihuateteo, they ensured that their children remained inside the house and sternly warned them, explaining what would happen to them if they happened to encounter one (Florentine Codex, book 4, page 41). To those who are tempted to argue the Cihuateteo were not revered in a god-like sense and perhaps that people only wished to remember them, keep in mind that in the Florentine they are described as atlacacemelleque which is translated to the inhuman ones which is clearly signaling that teotl in this sense is opposed to humans and is therefore supernatural. Although Pre-Cuauhtemoc people strongly opposed the works of the nahualli which translates to a sorcerer who practices witchcraft, the Cihuateteo were one of the few exceptions. Whereas people who died ordinary deaths in Pre-Cuauhtemoc times were cremated, the women who died in childbirth were not, they were buried at the crossroads, and as a result, warriors fought vigorously over their bodily remains which they kept as talismans to ensure bravery and success in battle (The Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya by Mary Miller and Karl Taube, page 61). The last plate of the Codex Ferjervary-Mayer depicts Tezcalipoca holding a severed arm to his mouth which is likely the arm of a Cihuateteotl and substantiates the evidence from the Native informants.
All of these seemingly distinct Teteoh such as Cihuateteo, Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, and Chalchiutlicue are all unified by teotl resulting in a pantheistic view of the world. This unity resulted in a blurring of the lines between the natural and supernatural and we see this clearly in native texts whereas at one moment a person can be here on earth and in the next moment they could be in Mictlan only to return to earth (Aztec Philosophy by James Maffe, page 409). As a result of the pantheism practiced by our ancestors, it is by definition not possible that ometeotl can be a “God of Duality” that is separate from teotl which is contradictory to the way in which Leon-Portilla talks about Ometeotl as a transcendental creator god (Aztec Philosophy by James Maffe, page 858). In essence, Leon-Portilla replaced teotl with ometeotl and then successfully convinced many scholars and proponents of Mexicayotl in the process.
When Leon-Portilla wrote his book La Filosofia Nahuatl in 1956 at the age of thirty years old, it was a brave undertaking and he was heavily criticized by philosophers who would not consider that our ancestors were capable of philosophizing. In their minds, philosophy had developed only once in the history of the world in Greece and it was preposterous to suggest anyone else had also independently developed philosophy. Almost sixty years later with the publication of Aztec Philosophy, James Maffie reported to have encountered similar criticisms. Leon-Portilla laid the foundation for us to fully understand the meaning of teotl and with it the philosophy of our ancestors yet his most lasting contribution within the Mexicayotl movement is his conception of Ometeotl. Considering Leon-Portilla had ties with neoaztekah organizations in the first half of the 20 th century, it is possible that he was influenced by Estanislao Ramirez’s claim that Ometecuhtzintli was the single, invisible creator of the universe (http://mexikaresistance.com/2014/06/05/a-brief-history-of-the-mexicayotl-movement/). While the evidence does support that our ancestors had philosophy, the evidence does not support the existence of the dual god/energy Ometeotl prior to Leon-Portilla. Teotl on the other hand, has been shown by James Maffie to be supported by a wide range of Pre-Cuauhtemoc, primary, linguistic and contemporary sources. Ometeotl is yet another relic of the Mexicayotl movement which is unsubstantiated and exists only in the imagination of its creator and virtually all Mexicayotl adherents. It is time to move on.
This is good info it puts your mind in another perspective. I would agree with you on this . It is not rite for us to keep following Eurocentric views
It sounds like you have only “scratched the surface” of the non-existant Ometeotl…
Before moving on… consider the dual energy of Tezcatlipoca and quetzalcoatl on Tezcatlipoca’s day 2 reed Ome-Acatl sounds like Ome-teotl?
Before moving on… consider other researchers in your search…
Ometeotl = Divine dual trinity Nahuatl name for the Supreme Being from om “two” , e, “three” and teo, “divine”.
………………From Frank Diaz Gospel of the Toltecs…
Ometeotl omen “two headed deer falls to earth” Mixcoatl puts an arrow through it, instead he catches it and gives the deer to the people of his town, and they fed the deer for four years. The deer dies and then they took the skin and raised it as a flag…………….
Ometeotl = Meteor, comet like Halley or Bethlehem star? The sign in the sky of the two headed deer?
Or consider this, reportedly said quoted by 1 Reed Quetzalcoatl himself…from page 87 of Frank Diaz Gospel of the Toltecs
“Ometeotl, it is within your power to give peace and sweetness, richness and prosperity, for you alone are the master of goodness. I plead then, that you take pity on your sheep. I plead for a piece of your tenderness and say that in truth we have a great need of it.
I plead for some days of rest for our people, like those who relish for a few hours the ephemeral beauty of flowers that dry, and, as your heart orders, become deities. We are relying on your answer. You are our shelter, prince of darkness, our peace and quiet.”
Just before he finished his prayer a deformed deer came into the plaza dragging his tail… A roaring of fear passed through the multitude as they watched. The deer went directly to the king and there, in front of everyone, it disappeared. This vision was taken as a negative answer from heaven. Pg 87
Sources for this chapter: Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva Espana and Codice Florentino.
Personally I think Halley’s Comet is Ometeotl, the thundering one, who does still exist every 75-79 years or so…might even call him “supreme”?. Furthermore, the tzolkin exhibits binary-triplets by way of the 4-day harmonics that repeat 65 times, 64 codons plus the mystery codon. 75 divided by 3 = 25 and 75 / 2 = 37.5, all key numbers in Great pyramid and the Phoenix/Apis Bull cycles.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. I’m saying the Birth of Christ/Quetzalcoatl is centered around the 5 BC birth/return of Halley. But first you have to understand BC dates and wait for all the babies to grow up and all the bathwater to fill in. And in this case we are all babies drowning in a tub of wrong dates. But even I have overcome this melting pot, and from it smelted down the right ones.
Help me make a page on your site about this, “double and triple dating Christ-Topilitzin one Reed Quetzalcoatl”, please if you are any kind at all. Trust I care about Mexico’s authenticity when it comes to chronology. I knew the new age prophet of this age quite well, and I am up to no tricks thou the coyote is old in me, Jose called myself the original one down in CHile in 1999.
and here we have Miguel Leon-Portilla, 50 years later, claiming Tezcatlipoca is merely a title for Ometeotl.
Thank you so much for this well written and sourced essay on it. While working on my Nahua adventure graphic novel I’m trying to avoid all “New-Age” Mumbo jumbo and try to be as respectful and truthful to the sources. Glad to have learned Ometeotl isn’t real, but however, teotl, is still a thing which is what I’m working with.
you’re welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope you can share your graphic novel when you are finished!
I have spoken to some nahua speakers and they said that Ometeotl is a concept of coyomeh (mestizo/city people).
I’ve also spoken to danzantes who acknowledge that Ometeotl is a word our ancestors probably did not use but is a concept that is valued in the Danza community.
I’ve also read work by Arturo Gomez Martinez( Anthropologist, professor and nahuatl speaker) and he never mentions Ometeotl. In his lectures he dislikes Indigenistas and new age movements. Yet he does acknowledge that duality is very important to modern nahua cosmology. So there’s something there but Portilla took it too far by inventing a new word with no evidence. Here’s an excerpt from Martinez’ work:
“According to the theogony of the Nahuas of the Huasteca, in the beginning of time, ompacatotiotzih gathered the deities on the Postectitla hill to distribute their offices.”
–‘Los equilibrios del cielo y de la tierra.
Cosmovisión de los nahuas
By: Félix Báez-Jorge y Arturo Gómez Martínez
thanks for the feedback – it’s very helpful. It’s important to note that the duality of our ancestors was not one of opposites but of interrelated components. Quetzalcoatl for example could not create life without the help of death itself. It is not a battle of good vs. bad as in the judeo-christian tradition but rather a battle to achieve nepantla or balance between the two but both are necessary (and valued) in this process.
So the fuss is really more about the fact that Portilla possibly took agency to create —the word— ‘Ometeotl’. I don’t think that is clear in this piece. The downside to this is that when our people who are learning come across the word Ometeotl they will dismiss what follows all together (as opposed to just being skeptical of elements) as well as pejoratively viewing their own people who employ the word even tho:
“the way Leon-Portilla describes Ometeotl is very similar to the nepantla aspect of teotl..”
“The native Nahuatl concepts of teotl and nepantla are much more precise and valid alternatives to Ometeotl, and they successfully encompass the way Ometeotl is used by many people today.”
Good question Quimichipilli!
At this point in its history, Ometeotl has made its way to Nahua communities. The Nahuas I have spoken with are adamantly opposed to the usage of Ometeotl. Not only do they view the word as created and promoted by Spaniards and academics they believe that anyone who uses the word Ometeotl a) does not understand the Nahuatl language and b) are New Agers. The first time I realized there was something wrong with the word Ometeotl was when years ago I spoke with a Nahuatl speaker in Veracruz. She was utterly confused when I asked her about the meaning of Ometeotl. When I saw the look on her face I knew immediately that Ometeotl was not a legitimate Nahuatl word. Nahuas feel like if people use their language, then the Nahuas should be consulted otherwise it is a form of misappropriation (similar to the way outsiders twist the Maya world-view into something that is unrecognizable to living Maya people today). They get really irritated when people try to talk about Nahua culture but then bypass the Nahuas themselves. To me, that’s the most compelling reason to stop using Ometeotl.
From my experience, the use of Ometeotl has actually hindered people from digging deeper. The Nahua critique is accurate and most people (with some notable exceptions such as David Bowles and Chicome Itzquintli Amatlapalli) do not dig past Ometeotl to understand the Nahua world-view. I’ve seen so many people come to terms with it, then rebuild so I have yet to see “people dismiss what follows all together” as you mention. Its been a beautiful process because it requires critical thinking. So many people are standing up against false teachers such as Akaxe because they are now empowered to see past the deception and understand they are not alone and there are many communities that are moving past Ometeotl and building something even more meaningful. People are learning that it can be a very dangerous thing to accept teachings without question because in many cases this leads to cult-like communities like the one that is being dismantled as we speak in Chicago. We should always question everything and especially respect and consult with the Native communities as we continue to decolonize.