Friday, March 23, 2018

Templo Mayor — Mexico City

Tenochtitlan in 1519
Tenochtitlan was the Capital City of the Aztec-Mexica culture from 1325 to 1521 CE. The main temple of the Mexica was called Hueyi Teocalli in the Nahuatl language. It was dedicated to two gods, Huizilopochtli, the god of war and Tlaloc, the god of rain. Each god had a shrine at the top of the pyramid with separate staircases. Construction of the first temple was begun sometime after 1325 CE and it was rebuilt six more times.   

Templo Mayor Model Showing the 7 rebuilt Temples
When the Spanish arrived they called the Hueyi Teocalli the  El Templo Mayor, the Main Temple and it was destroyed in 1521 to make way for a Plaza in the Spanish era town. Today, the archaeological site of the Templo Mayor and Museum lies just northeast of the Zocalo in modern Mexico City.

Clay Sacrificial Victim with His Sacred Liver

Jade Mask

After the destruction of Tenochtitlan, the Templo Mayor, like most of the city was demolished and covered by the new Spanish colonial city. The temples exact location was largely forgotten but scholars roughly knew where to look for it. In 1933 they found part of a stair and a beam and by 1948 serpent heads and offerings. 
Clay Mexica Eagle Warrior

To excavate this area 13 buildings had to be demolished.  Excavation began and more than 7000 objects were found. 

These objects are now housed in the fantastic Templo Mayor Museum. This museum is the result of all the work done beginning in the 1980s to rescue, preserve and research the Templo Mayor site, the Sacred Precinct and all objects associated with it. 

The Templo Mayor Museum is a fantastic 6 story building filled ancient  finds that are made available to the public. We spent hours there. It is a wonderful museum!


Among many beautiful objects found at the Templo Mayor was the Tlaloc-Pot modeled with a high relief Figurehead of Tlaloc's face, the god of rain. The Mexica formed his face by intertwining two serpents at the nose and joining their heads face to face at the mouth. 

This Tlaloc was found in an offering at the Templo Mayor and the offering also contained mother-of-pearl shells and green stone beads, symbols of water. 
The pot dates from 1440-1469 CE.

Eagle Vessel
This sculpture is of a golden eagle with a circular cavity on the top which was a container for offerings on the cuauhxicalli (Eagle Vessel). It was found in 1985 at the Casa del Marques, a pre-hispanic structure bordering the Temple Mayor.  

The ruins of The Templo Mayor and the related Museum are fascinating places to visit.

Highly, Highly recommended!

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