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The Ancient Period

Atlantes de Tula
Tula de Allende in nearby Hidalgo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

200 BCE
The earliest buildings at Teotihuacan date from this period. Over the next four centuries, Totonac, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Maya peoples contribute to the rise of the Teotihuacan civilization.

100 CE
The Pyramid of the Sun, the largest pyramid at Teotihuacan is completed.

245-315 CE
The Xitle volcano, in what is today Tlalpan in the south of the city, erupts multiple times. In forming the Pedregal de San Ángel lava fields still visible across the south of Mexico City, most of what was likely a very sophisticated city of Cuicuilco was destroyed. The fleeing Cuicuilcan people are thought to have had a strong influence on the only-then increasingly powerful Teotihuacan.

378
In January, Teotihuacan invades and subjugates what is today the Petén department in Guatemala. One of the most powerful Maya strongholds of the classical period, Tikal comes under Teotihuacan rule. Tikal was completely abandoned by the end of the 10th century. 

450
Teotihuacan reaches the peak of its civilization although prolific mural painting continues well into the next 200 years.

713
Tula, north of the City in the state of Hidalgo and today known as Tula de Allende, begins rising in stature and power. It will eventually dominate what is today central Mexico.

ca. 947
Topiltzin, the later ruler of Culhuacán, is born at about this time. Culhuacán, an agricultural village in what is today Iztapalapa, was likely settled by those migrating from the then only recently fallen Teotihuacan.  

1100 – 1200 
Settlement begins in the area of Pochtlan in present-day Azcapotzalco. Results of excavations there were published only in 2015.

1111
The pilgrimage of the Mexica and other Nahua speaking peoples is said to have begun with their departure from a possibly mythical land called Aztlán or Aztátlan. This land would much later be adapted to refer to all of the multiple peoples within the Triple Alliance who traced their origins to Aztlán. (See “1810” below.)

1140
New groups of Hñañu / Otomí people arrive to what is today the Valle de Milpa Alta. Said to have arrived from old Amaquemecan, among their new settlements were Tecómitl, today’s San Antonio Tecómitl.

1152
A chieftain named Matlacoatl is said to have established the village of Azcapotzaltongo, today known as Villa Nicolás Romero (in Edomex). A later leader, Acolhuatzin (1283 to 1343) moved the seat of this dominion to what is today the center of Azcapotzalco.

1168
The island kingdom of Mixquic is founded by Hñañu / Otomí, Chalca, and Cuitlahuaca peoples in what is today the City’s southeast.

1181
A group of Xochimilca people found the small village which grew into the town of Tulyehualco, part of today’s Xochimilco.

1250
The king of Culhuacán, historically a Toltec refuge city, is persuaded by a group of Mexica people to permit them to settle in a relatively infertile patch of land called Chapultepec. In exchange the Mexica are believed to have served as mercenaries for Culhuacan.

1265
The first Xochimilca Lord, Acatonalli, founds a village on Cuauhilama hill, overlooking much of present day Xochimilco.

1309
The island of Iztacalco, then entirely within Lake Texcoco, is settled by Mexica farmers. It was to remain a relatively isolated island until the end of the colonial period, and an island until the mid-19th century.

 

1325
The legendary founding of México-Tenochtitlan, capital of the Mexica empire.

 

1337
Dissident Mexica break away from Tenochtitlan to found México-Tlatelolco on the northern portion of their rather small island.

1342
Tepaneca people establish themselves in the area of Cuajimalpa, and control the forests there for about 100 years from their capital in Azcapotzalco.

1367
Tezozomoc takes control of Azcapotzalco. His dominion reached most of the Valley of Mexico into Cuernavaca and north into Tenayuca and Atotonilco.

Prehistory  |  The Triple Alliance Period