6 junio, 2024

The 7 Contributions of the Most Important Toltecs

Between the contributions of the toltecs The most important are its art of war, sculpture and extensive commercial networks. The Toltec people inhabited much of the center-north of what is now Mexico from the fall of Tehotihuacán until the beginning of the Aztec empire, that is, approximately between the years 900 AD and 1150 AD.

Its capital was the mythical city of Tollan or Tula, which was located approximately 80 kilometers from present-day Mexico City. Much of what is known about this culture has come through the mythology of the Aztec people, who revered it in their stories. According to them, the city of Tula existed for more than five hundred years with about four million inhabitants.

According to this story, the Toltec people and their gigantic city disappeared due to war and famine, so many migrated, distributing their culture throughout Mesoamerica.

This information, however, does not coincide with all the archaeological findings, but it does give an idea of ​​the powerful cultural influence that they had on the peoples that followed them. For example, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza has traces of a Toltec presence.

What is certain is that this town was a warrior; its architecture, its sculpture, its religion and other arts are embodied in all kinds of warlike references and its influence has transcended the geographical and temporal borders of Mesoamerica.

Seven historical contributions of the Toltec people

1- The war

Frequently, the Toltec people clashed with their neighbors in search of conquering new territories, imposing their religious cult and obtaining human sacrifices for the great god Quetzacoátl.

Their presence was imposing during the battle, they used plumes of feathers, decorated breastplates, and as weapons, swords and small shields for hand-to-hand combat.

The record of all this is embodied in the military iconography of sculptures and friezes in Tollan. Thanks to their aggressiveness they were able to expand their domain over a wide territory.

2- Art and sculpture

The vastness of the Toltec cultural wealth has left deep cultural traces and an extensive physical heritage. Pottery, architecture, sculpture and painting are some of the artistic fields of which there are vestiges.

After the fall of the great city of Tehotihuacán in 750 AD, the Toltecs appropriated much of the knowledge of its inhabitants.

The city of Tula has impressive pyramids decorated with colorful paintings and relief friezes, and giant mythological statues supporting its roof.

As an immortal reminder of his legacy are his statues. The Atalantes, for example, are huge statues representing four important warriors in full armor.

Another impressive sculpture is the wall of snakes that, as a relief, represents several of these reptiles with geometric motifs devouring human skeletons.

Its pottery, no less prodigious, was abundant, however most of what was found in Tula got there thanks to trade and the payment of tributes.

3- Human sacrifices

The Chac Mool are anthropomorphic statues in whose belly they hold a receptacle for the head and the blood of the sacrifices. In the city of Tula, several of these statues have been found.

Likewise, the plaza where the sacrifices were made had a tzompantli, that is, a special place to place the skulls of the sacrificed human victims.

4- The cult of Quetzacóatl

Quetzalcoatl means feathered serpent. Although there was already a cult linked to this god before the Toltecs, it was not until the 10th century AD that it spread throughout much of the Mesoamerican territory. The warlike conquests of the Toltecs imposed the cult.

Even for the Aztecs, a later civilization, the cult of Quetzalcoatl was still very important.

For them, the cosmos was destroyed and rebuilt from time to time due to the feathered serpent’s fights with his brother Tezcatlipoca.

Legend has it that on one occasion, Tezcatlipoca, disguised as a doctor, gave his brother Quetzacóatl to drink alcohol, who, drunk, committed incest with his sister Quetzapétatl. Shamed by his act, the god headed east, toward the gulf.

5- The presence in the Mayan territory

Shortly before the Toltec people built their imposing capital, Tula, the classic period of Mayan culture came to an end. Some cities like Palenque, Tikal and Clakmul were abandoned for unknown reasons.

However, one city in particular flourished: Chichen Itza, in whose vestiges important features of Toltec art and culture appear.

Some of them are the Chac Mools, friezes with reliefs of important warriors, columns, animal profiles and many other things very similar to those found in Tula. In addition to the cult of Quetzacoátl.

6- The extensive commercial networks

Most Mesoamerican cultures have developed trading networks. Tula was, at its busiest, an important commercial center.

In its remains, pottery pieces have been found that belong to places as distant as Costa Rica or Nicaragua.

Despite this, and perhaps due to the multiple looting that the city has suffered, only one piece of jade has been found, an essential element of Mesoamerican trade.

7- His mysterious disappearance

It is not known exactly how or why a culture as influential as the Toltec disappeared. What is known for certain is that the once magnificent and imposing city of Tula was looted and burned.

Archaeological discoveries suggest that, to a large extent, this was caused by the violent and conquering character of this civilization, however, the true cause of its disappearance in the mid-12th century AD has not been determined.


Adams, R. (1991). Prehistoric Mesoamerica. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Brinton, D. (1887). Were the Toltecs an Historic Nationality? (pp. 229-241).
Britannica, E. (2017). Toltec People. Retrieved from Toltec People: britannica.com.
Charles River Publishers. (2014). The History and Culture of the Toltec. Lexington: Charles Rivers Publishers.
Nigel, D. (1987). The Toltecs: Until the Fall of Tula. Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press.

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