National Museum Of Anthropology Mexico City Student's Sheet
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY – MEXICO CITY
Read the text below and answer the questions that follow it.
WHAT WAS TENOCHTITLAN?
Tenochtitlan was a city state located on an island in Lake Texcoco in the
Valley of Mexico. Founded in 1325, it was the capital of the growing Aztec
empire in the 15th century until its defeat in 1521. Today ancient Tenochtitlan
is known as Mexico City.
The city fell on August 13, 1521. According to the chronicler Alva Ixtlilxóchitl,
“Almost all the Aztec nobility died, the only survivors being a few lords and
gentlemen, mostly children or extremely young people.” Cuauhtémoc, the last
emperor, was taken prisoner and kept alive for a time. Then he was executed
on the pretext of a plot. The Aztec empire had collapsed and Tenochtitlan was
gone. Cortés set out to rebuild the capital and continue the conquest. A year
later he became governor and captain-general of New Spain.
After the Spanish conquest and the subsequent building programs they
instituted, most of the great city of Tenochtitlan remained buried until the year
1790, when excavation for water pipes uncovered two Aztec sculptures, the
Sun Stone and the Statue of Coatlicue or the mother goddess.
Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlan are a very popular attraction, located under
the present day Mexico City. After nearly five hundred years, little has been
found of Tenochtitlan, though excavation continues in hopes that more will be
Adapted from: http://quezi.com/4953
1. What was the name of the capital of the Aztec Empire?
2. For how long did this Empire exist?
3. Why was the last emperor of the Aztec Empire executed?
4. What happened to Tenochtitlan after the Spanish conquest?
5. Has all Tenochtitlan been uncovered?
WHILE VIEWING A
“Coatlicue” was an Aztec goddess. Watch the video and pay attention to why
“Coatlicue” is a fascinating piece of work.
WHILE VIEWING B
Watch the video and fill in the blanks with the words you hear in the
description of “Coatlicue”.
MEXICO CITY MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY
Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology is considered one of the best of its
kind in the world. It houses archeological treasures charting Mexican culture
from pre-historical times right through to Modern indigenous life.
This is the most fascinating piece of work for me at the Museum. It’s called
Coatlicue, which means “Skirt of Serpents” and it’s the “Goddess of Earth”,
and actually what she has for a ________, because here, right here in the skin
of a ________there is a ________and a little _____ inside, which is the Aztec
symbol for ______. So, what she actually has as a head is two great
________ of blood that go all the way around, making two heads, two serpent
heads. They come out of her ________.
That’s right. And they’re like ________ each other and you can see the
________ and the ________that goes next to the ________ of the goddess
and on the ________ she has a ________ with __________ and then, all the
way around she has the serpent ________. She’s pinned it on her back with
another __________, and also her ___________ are serpent faces. And that
center over there is actually the center of Tenochtitlan, which is the same as
And is this what this Okolo is today?
It’s the same place. It’s just like…..they put the pyramids down and destroyed
So the colonialists destroyed all these buildings.
And put the churches over them.
But what priests did in order to perform the human sacrifices is to
……well….kill the person and then they took the skin of the person out with
her and everything and the priest put the skin over him and then he took the
beating heart and … in one of these, the heart also beating……..
Like, in this?
In this rock.
This rock saw many beating hearts.
WHILE VIEWING C
Watch the video again and check your answers.
Look at the sculpture of “Coatlicue” and use the vocabulary in the box to write
a paragraph describing it.
snake woman circle
teeth tongue skirt
hands mouth face
square blood goddess
human heads feet serpents
claws necklace breasts
“Coatlicue” is represented as a woman wearing……….