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Tenochtitlan

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Tenochtitlan

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Tenochtitlan

  1. 1. TENOCHTITLAN1325-1521 AD
  2. 2. Tenochtitlan • Tenochtitlan was a monumental city that stood for power and endurance and was a living metaphor of the Aztec story of migration and the supremacy of their sun/war god, Huitzilopochtli. • It was an urban island settlement that housed approximately 200,000 Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest. • Tetl: rock -nochtli: cactus -tlan: location • "The Place of the Fruit of the Prickly Pear Cactus" • According to Aztec history, when the city was founded, a temple in honor of Huitzilopochtli was immediately erected. • This temple was made from of reeds and straw with a foundation of swamp grass.
  3. 3. Tenochtitlan • The layout of Tenochtitlan featured a colossal central plaza that held all the sacred and royal architecture • This plaza was surrounded by wealthy Aztec houses, with commoners living outside of these residential zones • There were 4 major residential zones or calpullis in Tenochtitlan • Tenochtitlan had a sister city attached to it called Tlatelolco that was the location of the great Aztec marketplace of ancient Mexico • There were hundreds of floating gardens called chinampas that surrounded the 4 calpullis • Tenochtitlan was built in the center of Lake Texcoco and had 3 possible entrances Hernando Cortes's illustration of the city, 1524 AD
  4. 4. The Sacred Precinct • Located the heart of the city was the Sacred Precinct which was 43,000 square feet! • It contained 78 religious structures, all painted in brilliant symbolic colors • This sacred area was surrounded by a coatepantli (serpent wall) to designate the entrance to the religious area of Tenochtitlan • Templo Mayor - dedicated to Huitzilopochtli & Tlaloc • Temple of Quetzalcoatl • Temple of Tonatiuh - Sun God • Temple-Palaces of the Eagle and Jaguar warriors • Ball Court • Gladiatorial sacrifice stone • Libraries • Tzompantli (skull rack) • Apartments for Aztec Priests
  5. 5. Pyramid-Temple Architecture • Pyramid-temples were built to impose the Aztec religious pantheon and political influence. • Building and repairing the pyramid-temples was the most important civil engineering duty for the Aztecs because of their religious importance • They were government-sponsored public projects that used hundreds of laborers at one time. • These temples were believed to represent mountains, which were the sources of water and fertility • They were also the terrestrial gathering place of the spirits of deceased Aztecs
  6. 6. Templo Mayor • Height: 60m/197ft • The gods: Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc • Architecture: A double temple-pyramid • Completed: 1497 • Materials: Built of volcanic stone, tezontle, and covered with stucco and polychrome paint • Rituals: • Many rituals were done at the temple - human sacrifice, of course, is the most well known. • But there were many more, such as the private ritual blood-letting, burning of copal (a tree resin), and the music of worship. • This Aztec temple represented the Hill of Coatepec, where the Mexicas believed Huitzilopochtli was born.
  7. 7. Templo Mayor • The Templo Mayor was the first in ancient Mexico to feature a double step pyramid with 2 separate shrines at its summit • The temple on the left honored Tlaloc, the god responsible for proving a good rain season and an abundant harvest. • If enough rain was not forthcoming, the result was famine. • For that reason, Tlaloc was highly revered. • His temple was decorated blue and white, the colors that symbolized water and moisture
  8. 8. Templo Mayor • The temple on the right was made for Huitzilopochtli. • It was painted in red and white in honor of war and sacrifice. • The Great Temple was very tall and steep, the shrines at the pyramid’s summit were hidden unless an Aztec looked from an elevated platform • The Templo Mayor was constructed as such since the Aztec gods lived in the sky and above the people
  9. 9. The Great Temple (Templo Mayor) • The empire’s cosmological and religious identity was embodied by one pyramid-temple in particular: the Templo Mayor or Great Temple • To the Aztecs, it was where the emperor (tlatoani) and priests interacted with the gods on a daily basis. • Many of the ceremonies held here followed seasonal and festival calendars • According to Aztec belief, it was essential to provide their gods with nourishment in order to prevent the 5th and current world from coming to an end. • This was the blood and hearts of war captives and occasionally Aztec citizens
  10. 10. Templo Mayor • According to Aztec tradition, the Templo Mayor is also located at the exact spot where their patron god Huitzilopochtli gave the Mexica people his sign that they had reached the promised land: an eagle on a nopal cactus with a snake in its mouth • The sacred ballcourt and skull rack (tzompantli) were located at the foot of the stairs of the twin temple (Templo Mayor), where Huitzilopochtli was said to have cast the goddess Coyolxauhqui’s decapitated body to the base of Coatepec. • The tzompantli and ballcourts at the sacred precinct were 2 architectural features that served as a place for reenacting the mythical conflict between Huitzilopochtli and his sister Coyolxauhqui Frontal view of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan according the Codex Ixtilxochitl
  11. 11. Templo Mayor in the Aztec Universe • According to Aztecs, the Templo Mayor was the very point where the celestial and subterranean levels intersected with the terrestrial realm in their universe. • The various levels of the Temple also represent the cosmology of the Aztec world. • First of all, it is aligned with the cardinal directions with stone bridges that connected to roads leading in these directions. • This indicates the place where the plane of the world that humans live in intersects the thirteen levels of the heavens, called Topan and the nine levels of the underworld, called Mictlan
  12. 12. HUMAN SACRIFICE • Depending on the type of the sacrifice being performed, there were other, associated rituals, leading up to the death. • Types of sacrifice included extraction of the heart, decapitation, dismemberment, drowning, or piercing by arrows, to name some examples. • As human sacrifices were religious practices, they all took place at holy sites such as the Great Temple. • As the largest temples belonged to the two most revered deities- Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, these deities accordingly received the most human sacrifices. • Post-sacrifice rituals included eating the flesh of the sacrificed being, burying the body, severing the head and placing it on a tzompantli, and then tossing the body from the top of a pyramid, as in a sacrifice for Coyolxauhqui.
  13. 13. HUMAN SACRIFICE It is well known that the practice of sacrifice was extremely important to the people in the post- Classic Mesoamerican societies. They believed that the blood of a sacrificed victim, made divine by its name (chalchiuhatl, "precious water") and considered to be divine food, had life-giving powers. Religious images were anointed with it, thus giving energy to the god. The sun and the earth, opposite principles of the cosmos, were fed with the victims of ritual killing, thereby maintaining, according to Mexica cosmovision, the basic equilibrium of the universe and perpetuating its cyclic course.
  14. 14. Templo Mayor • Pyramids in Central Mexico were usually enlarged by building new architecture over itself, using former construction phases as foundation for the next stage of the temple, as later rulers (tlatoanis) sought to expand the Templo Mayor to reflect the growing greatness of the city of Tenochtitlan • The first temple was begun by the Aztecs the year after they founded the city (1325 AD), and the pyramid was rebuilt six times after that • All seven stages of the Templo Mayor with exception to the first have been excavated and assigned to the reigns of the emperors who were responsible for them
  15. 15. Tlaloc Shrine • At the foot of the stairs to the shrine dedicated to Tlaloc we have sculptures of frogs still present • Tlaloc is often represented as water or fire serpents. • Representations of frogs as aquatic beings were also reminiscent of Tlaloc. • The conch shell which Tlaloc sometimes carried in his hands was related to fertility, life, and creation.
  16. 16. Chacmool in the Shrine of Tlaloc • Tlaloc-Chacmool: • This sculpture represents a reclining man wearing necklaces, a large headdress, bangles, and bracelets of jade, with gold and copper bells as attachments. • The chacmool wears a mask over the mouth and the eyes, which connects the figure to Tlaloc. • The cuauhxicalli that rests on the stomach of the figure is surrounded by a relief of human hearts. • The chacmool is surrounded by snails, symbols of fertility and life, and water creatures, which associate the figure with the sacred liquid of the universe- blood and underground water.
  17. 17. Huitzilopochtli Shrine • The Templo Mayor was a symbolic representation of the Hill of Coatepec, where according to Mexica myth Huitzilopochtli was born and fought his sister Coyolxauhqui • At the base of the shrine of Huitzilopochtli we have two serpent heads facing west. • The entire stairway was flanked with serpent bodies • Coatepec = Hill of Snakes
  18. 18. Coyolxauhqui Relief • This great oval stone, once painted in bright colors is an impressive example of the artistic heights reached by the Mexica- Aztec artisans. • It has a flat upper surface with the image of a dismembered goddess carved in bas relief. • She is identified as the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui because of the symbols on her head: hair adorned with feathers, earplugs in the forms of the fire god, and golden bells on her cheeks. • Her beheading and dismembering confirms her role as goddess of the Moon.
  19. 19. • Her head is in profile while her body is in frontal view. • This was an artistic device designed to show the entire body of the figure. • Joints at her knees and elbows as well as her sandal heels have fanged monstrous masks. • Such masks were usually related to earth monster figures • Coyolxauhqui was located at the base of the Great Temple in front of the shrine of Huitzilopochtli, with the head facing toward the stairway. • It is now inside the Templo Mayor museum adjacent to the Temple
  20. 20. • Original coloration of the stone disk, based on chemical traces of pigments.
  21. 21. TZOMPANTLI ALTAR • On the walls 240 stone skulls covered with stucco, lined up like in a tzompantli (wooden rack displaying skulls of prisoners or sacrificial victims) • Eduardo Matos, an archaeologist at the National Institute of Anthropology and History, suggested the skull rack in Mexico City “was a show of might” by the Aztecs. • Friends and even enemies were invited into the city, precisely to be cowed by the grisly display of heads in various stages of decomposition.

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