Toltec People Research

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Researchers are still studying the Toltec people

Focusing on their way of life, origins, and circumstances surrounding their survival. In addition, it is important to remember that South America in particular holds a special place in the hearts of many ancient civilizations, including the Toltec civilization. In that sense, there is a great deal of curiosity about the people who founded this ancient society, their beliefs, and what made them such a formidable force in the ninth century. These are just a few of the many factors that make this group crucial for study into ancient civilization and the people who lived there. Thus, this research entails a discussion on the Toltec people and to a certain extent, their civilization. In achieving this, the paper will look at historical evidence that is being carried out to unravel the mystery surrounding the Toltec people.

Research Question

As far as the question of research is concerned, the study intends to answer, what was all about the Toltec people?


The Toltec people’s civilization is one of the most admired because of their artistic work, knowledge, and contribution to other people in the region they occupied.

Research and findings

Origin and establishment

To start with, a history of their origin and what people they constituted, historical evidence shows that Toltec people are the Tolteca-Chichimeca group of people, that that used to live in the desert. However, in the 9th century, this same group migrated to the valley of Mexico at a place called Culhuacan. In addition to that, Ce Tecpatl Mixcoatl was the first leader of this group and was an ambitious man, he managed to earn the title of great god and ruler. Although their first landing was at Culhuacan, the group would make Tollan, another place as their capital. During their civilization, studies reveal that the Capital occupied an area of fourteen kilometer square with a population ranging from thirty thousand to forty thousand (Keen, Benjamin, and Keith, 41). The group is classified as a forbearer of the Aztecs. Although there is little evidence regarding their military conquest, studies reveal that the people used conquest and trade as their main method of expanding the territories they deemed fit for their use.


Their economy mainly entailed trade and agriculture. It begs the question of what type of crops did this group did this group cultivate. Studies show that the Toltec mainly cultivated beans, maize, and chili peppers. In addition to that, they were also skillful artisans who would apply volcanic glass similar to granite to make weapons, for their protection and for trade, that is, they made weapons one of their most important exports (Muñoz, 31). Historians are coming up with other exports that this group exported, those stated include, ceramics and textiles. On the other hand, the group needed imports for their survival and in exchange for the goods they presented for trade, among the items that formed part of their imports include cacao, beans, and mushrooms.

Social Structure

There is little evidence, historically, that describes the social fabric or composition of this group. Thus, the better part of the social structure of this group is depicted as a mystery (León-Portilla, 14). However, studies reveal that the group was largely militaristic and had an aspect of the aristocracy. Additionally, the Aztec aristocracy and kings were filled with a sense of pride for their origin and more often than not, used as a tool, that is, the Toltec descent to ascend to power.


Historical studies are revealing that this group’s mythology and theology was centered on polytheism and their god would later become the most important among Aztec, who were their descendants. The worrying thing that is being revealed among this group is that, as a way of carrying out religious ceremonies, is carrying out human sacrifices. Scholars argue that the interaction of Toltec people and most of the societies, they traded or lived with may be the ones that influenced their religious beliefs (Florescano, Enrique, and Kathryn, 31). Also, it makes it prudent to argue that they also influenced other people as far as spreading their religious beliefs is concerned.

Architecture and Art

Many things influenced their artistic work. However, research shows that war and religion acted as the main influencer of their architecture. In the place of worship, there was a flat-roofed temple they designed in such a way that it had a square column on the halls. The people used limestone as the main material for building. On the other hand, there are also studies that have been carried out to determine the influence their military leaning had on them and has revealed that, the temples consisted of a picture depicting gruesome battles scenes. For instance, there were pictures and other artistic works of the gods of war demanding human sacrifices. Historians conducting a study of their artistic work have discovered a site called Chichen Itza, which has a mix of architecture of both the Mayan and Toltec cultures (Willermet, et al. 16). Additionally, there is a stone sculpture that is so massive which also gives more evidence to suggest the group’s militaristic and religious beliefs. The group also had pottery to add to their list of their artistic work. Research shows that this group involved themselves in pottery to solve some of their needs. Among the many functions that the group saw pottery essential for were in areas such as trade, ceremonies and for practical reasons (Willermet, et al. 16). For instance, pottery formed an important god for export. Also, they used the knowledge to make storage jars and cooking pots. Lastly, there were others for ceremonial functions.

Collapse of the Empire

Although research has been carried out to determine the reason behind the collapse of the once powerful empire, there is no evidence that points out to a certain factor as the main cause for the collapse of the Toltec empire (Florescano, Enrique, and Kathryn, 71). However, agricultural, civil war and commercial problems may have led to its collapse.


In comparison with other people that existed around South America, the Toltec’s people come along as one of the most advanced at the time. Together with their military expedition and trading activities, they managed to have lasting contributions among the people they interacted with and to the region they occupied as a whole. For instance, the irrigation techniques they used to grow crops proved to be beneficial to Aztecs people in later years. Additionally, both Aztecs and the Mayas were influenced by the Toltec to worship their traditional god. There is evidence that shows Aztecs crediting Toltec as their instructor for knowledge regarding traditional or rather herbal medicine (León-Portilla, 81). Lastly, they are credited with the discovery of Pulque, which are Mexican drinks that result from the maguey plant.


The research largely, or rather wholly relied on analyzing written materials as evidence for solving or answering the research question. They included but were not limited to historical books, archaeological literature and other materials written and related to the history of this particular group.

Description and interpretation

It is evident that Toltec people must have been a mysterious group by today’s standards. For instance, carrying out human sacrifice is a gruesome experience that may not be welcome in most societies. However, it is clear that, as a group that existed in the 9th century, their civilization was supreme. For instance, the skills in pottery were as useful then as they can be useful today. Additionally, they were religious people who believed in the existence of a deity. In addition to that, they were strong militarily, and this enabled them to conquer and protect the city they occupied.


The research above has opened up about the history of the Toltec people as far as describing them is concerned. In particular, they migrated and conquered the territory they later called their home, and as such, they were largely a militaristic kind of society. On the other hand, their history makes them be regarded as traders, for it is one of the activities they engaged in to sustain their life. Other things that the group carried out include but may not be limited to agriculture and religion. Like many other ancient civilizations, little evidence exists about their social structure, but, still, as a result of their civilization being the envy to people around them, such as the Mayas and the Aztecs, they were able to influence them in one way or another. It is the activities that they engage in, and their wonderful art work that makes them one of the most outstanding people of the 9th century in South American history.

Works Cited

Keen, Benjamin, and Keith Haynes. A history of Latin America. Cengage Learning, 2012.

Muñoz, M. de L., et al. Migration of pre-Hispanic and contemporary human Mexican populations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

León-Portilla, Miguel. Aztec thought and culture: A study of the ancient Nahuatl mind. Vol. 67. University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.

Florescano, Enrique, and Kathryn R. Bork. Memory, myth, and time in Mexico: from the Aztecs to independence. University of Texas Press, 2014.

Willermet, Cathy, et al. "Biodistances among Mexica, Maya, Toltec, and Totonac groups of central and coastal Mexico." Chungara, Revista de Antropología Chilena 45.3 (2013).

June 26, 2023

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