Climbing the Home of the Rain Gods: Mountain Cults in Ancient Central Mexico

Author(s): Jeremy Coltman; Jesper Nielsen

Year: 2017


According to Henry B. Nicholson, the rain deity Tlaloc enjoyed the most active and widespread cult in ancient Mexico. This assertion is surely correct, and is further evidenced from later ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources. Closely related to Tlaloc - and his earlier manifestations - were the Tepictoton, little directional mountain deities venerated during the veintenas of Tepeilhuitl and Atemoztli. In this paper we review Nicholson's original observations seen in the light of new discoveries and interpretations of the past 25 years. We will thus look at the significance and symbolism of mountain cults in ancient Central Mexico from the Classic period and onwards, examining some of the regional and temporal variations of what was clearly a shared set of ideas and beliefs. Both Teotihuacan and Mexico-Tenochtitlan sit in the shadow of important mountains that had ritual significance. Most likely, the very position of these mountains had something to do with the settlement of these centers as part of rituals of foundation.

Cite this Record

Climbing the Home of the Rain Gods: Mountain Cults in Ancient Central Mexico. Jeremy Coltman, Jesper Nielsen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431152)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14901