Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tula is a town of about 10,000 in Hidalgo State, central Mexico, some 57 miles to the north north-west of Mexico City. The modern town is known as Tula de Allende; it covers part of the south-eastern portion of the Pre-Columbian city.
Nearby are the remains of the ancient capital city of the Toltecs, also known as "Tula" or as "Tollan". Usually identified as the Toltec capital around 980 AD, the city was destroyed in or about 1168 or 1179.
The site is at and around the junction of the Rio Rojas and the Rio Tula . The two largest clusters of grand ceremonial architecture are nicknamed "Tula Grande" (the most visited by tourists) and "Tula Chico". Remains of other buildings extend for some distance in all directions. In the residential areas streets were laid out in a grid pattern.
The city was the largest in central Mexico in the 9th and 10th centuries, covering an area of some 12 km square, with a population of at least some 30,000, possibly significantly more. While it might have been the largest city in Mesoamerica at the time, some Maya sites in the Yucatán may have rivaled its population during this period.
Distinctive Toltec features here include a terraced pyramids, colonnaded buildings, and relief sculptures, including the characteristic chacmools, reclining figures that may have been avatars of the Rain God . There are two large courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame. Some of the architecture is similar to that at Chichen Itza.
The site was extensively looted in Aztec times, with much of the artwork and sculpture carted off.
The first scholarly description of the ruins was made by Antonio García Cubas of the Mexican Society of Geography & History in 1873. The first archaeological excavations were conducted in the 1880s by French antiquarian Désiré Charnay. A twenty year archeological project under Jorge Acosta of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology & History (INAH) began in 1940. In the 1970s further excavations and restorations of some structures were conducted by INAH and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Parts of the site are open for tourist visits, and Tula has a small museum.
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