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Dave and Jan's travels, day 178:

13th November
Let's start with the history. Tula was occupied by the Toltecs, a race of people who ran a sizeable empire hereabouts around 1000 A.D. No-one really knows much about these people, not even whether this was their main site or a satellite of the Yucatan or vice versa. The Mexica (aka the Aztecs) who came later revered this lot as being finer craftsmen and all round superior citizens.

In any case, they had a big city of 30,000 people with plenty of fine public buildings for the nobles and somewhere else for the plebs, all very modern and civilised. The ruins include a nice big temple on top of of a nice big pyramid where people were ritually slaughtered. The roof of the temple was held up by four huge statues of warriors - see at right. They're still there today, albeit without the original paint, or indeed the roof. In some ways this makes them even more memorable, they just stare out across the countryside, the way they have for 1,000 years.

Also on the site are the ruins of an even bigger pyramid-temple and a pelota court. Pelota is the "ball-game" of pre-Hispanic Mexico, which involved not just playing games but - allegedly - an eventual sacrifice to the gods. These days, it's not even clear whether it was the winner or loser that ended up minus their entrails. Another game was once played between Moctezuma of the Mexica and Nezahualpilli of the Texcoco. The stakes were three of Moctezuma's turkeys against Nezahualpilli's kingdom - fortunately for the latter he won.


   (click thumbnails for a larger picture)

Standing soldiers

The main colonnade, Tula

Detail of carving