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Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire

TEOTIHUACAN—the name of this ancient Mexican city conjures visions of enormous pyramids and long avenues surrounded by mountains and volcanoes in the Valley of Mexico. But there is more to this place than meets the eye. Far beneath the Street of the Dead and its surrounding structures lie secrets that are only now coming to light.

Established in the first century BCE, Teotihuacan evolved into a major urban center, attracting a multiethnic population of one hundred thousand people. At its peak, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. The art and architecture its citizens left behind have been objects of fascination since the time of the Aztecs. Yet the meaning of these powerful objects and images has remained elusive. Now recent discoveries have brought us closer to understanding the importance of this art to the citizens of Teotihuacan.

Published to accompany a major exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire features essays by leading archaeologists and researchers who have studied this site. Lavish photographs of more than two hundred artifacts not only illustrate these experts’ captivating interpretations of Teotihuacano life, but also stand alone as bold and colorful remnants of a remarkable civilization.

These finely crafted works of art demonstrate how the city’s dominant ideology permeated everyday spaces, uniting a diverse population. As this volume reveals, they functioned in support of the city itself as a symbolic re-creation of the universe. Fire and water were the vital, essential forces that both powered and threatened the city through their presence or absence. The art of Teotihuacan represents, on a fundamental level, manifestations of these and other natural forces and the beings and rituals designed to bring them into cosmic balance. Approx. 320 images.

Hardcover, 444 pages. Read more about the authors here.

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