The oldest Nahua legends speak of a mythical place called Tamoanchan, considered to be the cradle of all Mesoamerican civilizations and a sort of terrestrial paradise from which the ancestors of the Aztecs and the Toltecs would go out to repopulate the earth after The Great Flood.
According to the early colonial historian Bernardino de Sahagún (1500-1590 AD), the original inhabitants of Tamoanchan had come from the Sea: “ They say the came to this land to rule over it…they came from the sea on ships, a multitude of them, and landed on the shore of the sea, to the North…from there they went on, seeking the white mountains, the smoky mountains…led by their priests and by the voice of their gods. Finally, they came to the place that they called Tamoanchan…and there they settled .” These learned men invented the sacred books, the count of destiny, the book of years, and the book of dreams. Tamoanchan has been since identified with a number of places in ancient Mexico, including Tula and Teotihuacan, but these are likely later associations from a time when its true location had already become lost and shrouded in legend.
The Oldest Mesoamerican Civilization?
The earliest historical traditions locate Tamoanchan far from the coast, in the province of Cuauhnahuac near present-day Cuernavaca. From there, the tribes that would become the ancestors of all later Mesoamerican civilizations spread to the North, East, and South to give rise to the civilizations of the Toltecs, the Olmecs, and the Maya. These people called themselves the Chan, the ‘ People of the Serpent ’, and the very name of Tamoanchan may have come from them.
Original Article Titled "Tamoanchan – In Search of the Lost Cradle of Mesoamerican Civilizations."
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