The ruins of Teotihuacan can be seen today at a location approximately 30 miles northeast of modern Mexico City, and offer testament to the flourishing metropolis that once was home to approximately 125,000 people, making it the most populous city in the pre-Columbia Americas. The city got its start around 100 BCE, but was completely decimated by the eighth century. Why it collapsed has been a subject of debate among historians and anthropologists for several years. In this new effort, Manzanilla suggests it was not drought or invaders that brought down the great city, but internal strife among its inhabitants.
Manzanilla is basing her claims on her examination of parts of the ruins, along with an analysis of human remains and other artifacts that have been found in the area. She suggests that because of volcanic eruptions in the first and fourth centuries, people were forced to move from the southern basin, and wound up in Teotihuacan, which resulted in a mix of ethnicities. Activity markers, nutritional patterns, isotopes and ancient DNA analysis showed that the immigrants (some of whom brought specialized skills along with them) tended to live on the outskirts of the city in different neighborhoods and were given specific jobs by businessmen that helped to bolster the economy. But it also led to rivalries between the neighborhoods. As time passed, she believes that tensions arose between wealthy businessmen, neighborhood leaders and those that were part of the government. The tension was increased, she claims, by the government insisting on retaining control of all natural resources. Eventually, that tension boiled over and the result was an angry mob of people burning down major parts (administration and ritual buildings) of the city and trashing sculptures and other iconic structures, and eventually to total collapse of the city.
She reports that thus far, no evidence of a foreign invasion of any type has been found.
Yirka, Bob. 2015. “Anthropologist offers possible explanation for collapse of ancient city of Teotihuacan”. Phys.Org. Posted: March 17, 2015. Available online: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-anthropologist-explanation-collapse-ancient-city.html