Top Ten Aztec Artifacts

Top Ten Aztec Artifacts

       The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to 16th centuries. The Nahuatl words aztecatl and aztecah mean “people from Aztlan,” a mythological place for the Nahuatl-speaking culture of the time, and later adopted as the word to define the Mexica people. Often the term “Aztec” refers exclusively to the Mexica people of Tenochtitlan (now the location of Mexico City), situated on an island in Lake Texcoco, who referred to themselves as Mexica Tenochca or Cōlhuah Mexica. Sometimes the term also includes the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan’s two principal allied city-states, the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan, who together with the Mexica formed the Aztec Triple Alliance which controlled what is often known as “the Aztec Empire.” In other contexts, Aztec may refer to all the various city states and their peoples, who shared large parts of their ethnic history and cultural traits with the Mexica, Acolhua and Tepanecs, and who often also used the Nahuatl language as a lingua franca. From the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was the heart of Aztec civilization: here the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the city of Tenochtitlan, was built upon raised islets in Lake Texcoco. The Triple Alliance formed a tributary empire expanding its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica. At its pinnacle, Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as reaching remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments. In 1521 Hernán Cortés, along with a large number of Nahuatl speaking indigenous allies, conquered Tenochtitlan and defeated the Aztec Triple Alliance under the leadership of Hueyi Tlatoani Moctezuma II. Subsequently the Spanish founded the new settlement of Mexico City on the site of the ruined Aztec capital, from where they proceeded with the process of colonizing Central America. Aztec culture and history is primarily known through archaeological evidence found in excavations such as that of the renowned Templo Mayor in Mexico City; from indigenous bark paper codices; from eyewitness accounts by Spanish conquistadors such as Hernán Cortés and Bernal Díaz del Castillo; and especially from 16th and 17th century descriptions of Aztec culture and history written by Spanish clergymen and literate Aztecs in the Spanish or Nahuatl language, such as the famous Florentine Codex compiled by the Franciscan monk Bernardino de Sahagún with the help of indigenous Aztec informants.

  1. Sun Stone

    The Sun Stone is an Aztec calendar and shares the basic structure of calendars found throughout ancient Mesoamerica. This calendar is recorded as a carving on the Aztec Calendar Stone currently found in the National Museum of Anthropology and History located within Chapultepec Park, Mexico City.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Top 100 Mandalas, http://www.crystalinks.com/aztecalendar.html,
  2. Xochipilli

    This Aztec of the god of love, dance, beauty  flowers and maize, seated cross-legged on a throne decorated with flowers and butterflies. It is located in the Museo del Templo Mayor.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  3. Cihuacoatl

    This 15 foot tall sculpture is of the Aztec “Mother Goddess” and was carved in volcanic stone. The Aztecs called her “Coatlicue” or “Cihuacoatl,” which refers to her skirt of serpents and face made up of two serpent heads. There are 13 feathers carved into the back part representing levels of the cosmos.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  4. The Stone of Tizoc

    The legendary stone of Tizoc shows the victories of Tizoc, the seventh ruler (1481-1486). On it are carved fifteen scenes, each with two figures: the conqueror Tizoc and the leader of the vanquished people. In reality Tizoc’s reign was a military disaster. The stone is 2.65 m in diameter and currently resides in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves,
  5. Obsidian Monkey

    One of the most valued pieces in the National Museum of Anthropology is a pure obsidian monkey, possibly pregnant. It is thought to represent the god of dance, play and love.
    Links:
  6. Serpent Head

    The third major Aztec sculpture on the rotunda floor is a gigantic and fearsome stone serpent head and which is dated circa 1250-1521 A.D. It measures 90 by 92 by 155 centimeters and is in the collection of the Museum Nacional de Antropologia, INAH, Mexico City. This type of sculpture was usually placed along the stairs of temples as “protection” for the god. Shown bearing its fangs, this serpent is not easily ignored or forgotten.
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  7. Fragments of a Brazier of Tláloc

    These are fragments of a brazier representing Tláloc, the god of rain. It is made out of tezontle stone, which is a type of volcanic rock, and was painted in ochre and red, and adorned with a crown of feathers.  It currently resides in the Museo del Templo Mayor.
    Links:
  8. Fragment of an Anthropomorphic Brazier (1300 AD)

    This is a fragment of an anthropomorphic brazier made with fired clay and pigment. It measures 18 x 22 x 9 centimeters and can be found in the Museo Universitario de Ciencas y Arte, Mexico City.
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  9. Aztec Mosaic Skull, Mexico

    Aztec-decorated skull at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Healthy Things to DoTop Ten Skulls, Top Ten Human Skulls, Top 100 Symbols
  10. Aztec Vase

    This finely carved Aztec vase was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Vases,
  11. Aztec Sculpture

    This sculpture was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  12. Aztec Sculpture

    This sculpture was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  13. Aztec Relief

    This relief was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves,
  14. Brazier

    This brazier was found in the Templo Mayor and depicts Tláloc, the god of rain, with tears running from his eyes. Braziers were placed on pyramids and in front of temples for burning copal. It currently resides in the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links:
  15. Decorated Skull

    This human skull has been decorated with jade tiles. It can be found in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Skulls, Top Ten Human Skulls,
  16. Representation of Quetzalcoatl

    This statue representation of Quetzalcoatl emphasizes the snake component of the legendary plumed serpent deity. This piece currently resides in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Aztec Gods,
  17. Aztec Feathered Wood Scepter

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Scepters, http://www.precolumbianwood.com/aztec.htm,
  18. Aztec Sacrificial Knife (15th-16th Century)

    This is a sacrificial wooden handled knife  from Mexico. The handle of this knife is carved in wood and covered with mosaic of turquoise, shell and malachite, while the blade is made of chalcedony.
    Links: Top Ten Knives/Daggers, Top Ten Aztec Weapons, http://www.precolumbianwood.com/aztec.htm,
  19. Aztec Wooden Shield

    This is an Aztec wooden shield covered in feather.
    Links: Top Ten Shields, Top Ten Aztec Weapons, http://www.precolumbianwood.com/aztec.htm,
  20. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten North American Artifacts, http://www.thecityreview.com/aztec.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec

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