Science: Twilight of the Gods

At one time it was the most important city in the region—a bustling commercial center known for its massive monuments, its crowded streets and commercial districts, and its cultural and religious institutions. Then, suddenly, it was abandoned. Within a generation most of its population departed and the once magnificent city became all but a ghost town.

That scenario might be a cautionary account of the fall of New York after default. In fact, it is the history of a pre-Columbian city called Teotihuacan (the Aztecs' word for "the place the gods call home"),...

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