Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/485

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

twenty-nine years, took quite a breathing spell, in fact, and then went and founded the city of Mexico. It will thus be seen that the ruins of Tula have great antiquity. Prescott states that the Toltecs are the first people of which we have traditions, coming from a northerly direction. They entered Anahuac (Mexican valley) probably before the close of the seventh century. They were well instructed in agriculture and mechanic arts, and invented the complex arrangement of time adopted by the Aztecs. "They fixed their capital at Tula, north of the Mexican valley, and the remains of extensive buildings were to be discerned there at the time of the conquest. The noble ruins of religious and other edifices are referred to this people. Their shadowy history reminds one of those primitive races who preceded the ancient Egyptians. After four centuries, the Toltecs disappeared as silently and mysteriously as they came."

Whatever of mystery may have enveloped their advent, their disruption as a nation and final dispersion is as circumstantially told, and is as authentic, as any story or tradition relating to that early period. It was at the beginning of the eleventh century, if we may credit the Indian historian, Ixtlilxochitl, that the seeds of disturbance were sown in the hitherto peaceful kingdom of Tollan, and all through the illicit love of the then reigning monarch, Tecpancaltzin, for a woman, a daughter of Papantzin, one of his nobles. The sin of Tecpancaltzin, according to the historian, brought with it its punishment, and during the reign of his natural son, Meconetzin, the Toltecs were destroyed as a people, not only through internal dissensions and famine, but in a great battle waged with an invading nation from Xalisco. They were scattered in every direction, but have been traced mainly southward. The discovery of pulque, the national beverage of Mexico, dates from this epoch, and is said to have been made in this very region.

Upon examining the ruins on the hill, previously mentioned as commanding the town, we found that some one had been excavating there. I then recalled the account given by Charnay, the French archaeologist, in which he pretends to have unearthed temples and palaces on this very site. Imagine a