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the Toltecs, artisans, scholars, priests and fearsome warriors

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Kara Sundstrom
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« on: April 24, 2010, 08:52:31 pm »

One of the most vexing questions that archaeologists and architects have failed to resolve is the similarity between some principal structures at Chichen Itza and the major landmarks of Tollan. There are Temples of the Warriors in both Tollan and Chichen Itza. Both contain large temples on their tops, which were supported by massive stone statues of warriors.  Yet, Chichen Itza also has many structures which were traditional Maya architecture, both in detail and form.

The Toltecs introduced several cultural practices, which later came to be associated with the Aztecs. The most notorious of these was the bloody ceremony in which priests held a victim on a stone alter and then cut out his or her heart.  The hearts were then burned on a special alter dedicated to the god of war. This alter was called the Chac Mool by the Itza Mayas.  Its Toltec name is not known.  The Toltecs practiced several forms of human sacrifice that were associated with the worship of a pantheon of gods and goddesses.

The city of Tollan only lasted about 250 years.  A combination of drought and constant assaults by less advanced Nahuatl tribes from the north, eventually triggered its collapse.  Aztec histories state that Tollan’s first and last kings were named Quetzalcoatl (Quetzal bird – snake).  The kings of the Toltecs were supposedly fair skinned and wore beards.  The last Quetzalcoatl supposedly led his followers to the Gulf of Mexico from where they sailed to an eastern land.  Hernando Cortes heard of this legend and initially fooled the Aztecs by pretending to be the god Quetzalcoatl, who had finally returned from the east.
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