January 2 – January 9, 2019.
I’ve been feeling a bit jealous. In the US there were concerted efforts to erase the traces and culture of indigenous populations. Some of my ancestors may have been part of these efforts. But here in Mexico descendants of the peoples conquered by the Spaniards are surrounded by ancient sites built by their ancestors. Many of the sites are accessible, and many have excellent museums.
Most of the ruins we have visited so far (Hu Tezza, Las Labradas, Ixtlán, Guachimontenes, and Ihuátzio) have been exciting to me because they represent a time of development. People here had already mastered the basics of tool building, agriculture, and astronomy. Now they were developing written languages, understanding the concept of zero, building monumental pyramids, and establishing local governments that served their societies — building civilization.
The Museum of Anthropology we visited in Mexico City uses artifacts and displays to describe this era and those that follow. The Museo is full of information. Thankfully, only a fraction of it is translated into English, or I’d still be there reading. The Teotihuacán ruins near Mexico City are also pre-Aztec.
Back in Pátzcuaro, we visited the Tzintzunzan ruins, which were built by the Purépecha. And here in Mexico City, we explored the Templo Mayor, built by the Aztecs. Both groups were militaristic empire builders that came after those developers of civilization. (Not quite as exciting in my book.)
But, now that I think about it, there is really no need to be jealous. While the various cultures were building civilization here, the same development was happening concurrently and independently all over the world. (Also followed by empire building.) It really amazes me that the development of such different cultures, separated geographically for at least ten thousand years, could be so similar. So, in a way, the ruins here also belong to me (and to all of us).
Museum of Anthropology
El Museo Nacional de Antropología was a fairly short trip up our Metro line. It is one of the museums in the huge Bosque (forest) de Chapútepec.
Teotihuacán was a little harder for us to reach. We set alarms and rode the Metro, making two changes, to the Autobuses del Norte stop. From there we took an hour-long bus ride to the ruins.
El Templo Mayor is in the El Centro historic part of Mexico City, near the Zócalo. We rode the Metro to this area a few times.