The pyramid of the sun is one of the largest structure in Teotihuacan, and is believed to have been built back in 200 CE and is the most massive building in Mesoamerica. The pyramid of the sun is thought to have been built for more than 100 years, and it contains more than 1.1 million cubic meters of adobe mud bricks at its core. The Pyramid of the Sun was given this name by the Aztecs who visited Teotihuacan and found it abandoned. The name given to the pyramids by the Teotihuacanos is unknown. The structure is a steep pyramid that has been built with concentric pyramids rather than an exterior with a slope (Cowgill and George 962).
Artwork and Symbolism
The Pyramid of the Sun is an artwork like no other. The pyramid has layers of pyramids and its size is such that it draws parallels to the great pyramid of Khufu in Egypt. There is a lot of symbolism in the Pyramid of the Sun. It is believed that the pyramid could have represented a literal mountain to those who lived there. Mountains and caves were considered sacred. One theory claims that the tunnels below the pyramid represent the caves from which human beings are believed to have emerged. The framework of the Pyramid of the Sun gives a perfect outline of a mountain and is therefore thought to symbolize a mountain and caves (Sugiyama et al. 403).
Cultural context of the artwork
Mountains and caves were considered to be very sacred. Since it was believed that human beings emerged from caves within mountains, the Pyramid of the Sun had a lot of religious significance to the people who lived there. According to pigment analysis conducted in the Pyramid of the Sun, it was originally painted red. It is believed to be so because it was used for human sacrifices. According to a certain theory, the pyramid of the sun was painted bright red so that it always appeared to be soaked in blood so that whenever the gods looked down from heaven, they would be appeased (Cowgill and George 962).
Cultural, religious and regional significance
Archeologists believe that on top of the Pyramid of the Sun was an altar, indicating that one of the purposes for building the Pyramid could have been to honor a deity. The Pyramid of the Sun is also significant as the caves beneath it were linked to the birth of their Gods. This is evident as four burials were found beneath the foundation of the pyramid. Three of these graves showed adults holding children. The location on which the Pyramid of the Sun was built is also believed to have a lot of significance. The caves within the pyramid of the sun seem to be the reason why it was constructed there. Remains of three previous constructions and a plaza wall were buried beneath the foundation of the Pyramid of the Sun (Sugiyama et al. 403). There is also evidence that there was an earlier culture due to the ceremonial jade mask that was discovered to be buried under the Pyramid of the sun.
More symbolism of the Pyramid of the Sun is seen as you look at it due south to the Pyramid of the moon. From a distance, a huge mountain is seen as an outline of the Pyramid of the sun as though it was built to reflect the sacred mountain and create a true south axis in relation to the pyramid of the moon.
Cowgill, George L. "An update on Teotihuacan." Antiquity 82.318 (2008): 962-975.
Sugiyama, Nawa, Saburo Sugiyama, and Alejandro Sarabia G. "INSIDE THE SUN PYRAMID AT TEOTIHUACAN, MEXICO: 20082011 EXCAVATIONS AND PRELIMINARY RESULTS." Latin American Antiquity (2013): 403-432
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