Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Great Temple of the Aztec's
Thames and Hudson Ltd
My friends and I are in agreement of this book from the start that the pictures are first rate especially of the caches found among the ruins of the temple. Archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma opens the book with his resume leading up to his appointment as head of the Great Temple Project in 1977.
The aim of the project was to excavate the precincts of the great temple of the Aztec's in the heart of Mexico city, Tenochtitlan as the Aztec's called the city. At the time Hernan Cortez saw the city in the lake the population of the city was about 250 000. When the Spaniard's conquered the city they destroyed the great pyramid and its precincts, erecting colonial buildings on top of the temple ruins.
The author begins with a description of Mexico city of today and in historical times, the rise of the Aztecs and the creation of the city. We are also told of early discoveries of important monuments of Tenochtitlan including the eighteenth century discovery of the great calendar stone.
Mr. Moctezuma is next on to the history of the Aztecs and the foundation of the city. The pictures of the jaguar with a jade ball in his mouth and of a "chacmool" statue are wonderful. The great temple is really a series of seven temples built over top of one another.
The temple has two staircases to the summit and at the top of each stand two shrines one is dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, a god who is represented by fetishes, a god of war and patron deity of the city. The other Tlaloc, god of water and fertility. Interesting picture of eight life size statues found near the base of the steps of the Huitzilopochtli shrine of the stage III temple.
Soon we start into the incredible images of the many caches found during excavations including a cache of forty two sacrificed children and hundreds of artifacts including beautifully made clay pots and masks carved in stone, animals and seashells, often only certain parts of the animals.
The author beaks down the material found into Aztec material and tribute material including antiques from the even more ancient site of Teotihuacan. Particularly of interest are the skull masks which incorporate human skulls inlaid with shells and hematite while a green stone mask in the Teotihuacan style with obsidian eyes is very life like.
The images in the book said from the start that it was going to be interesting while Eduardo Moctezuma's recounting of the history of the city, it's inhabitants and its great temple was inclusive for young adults and up. Such a complicated story was simply put forward with the skill and prestige possessed by it's author and excavator of "The Great Temple of the Aztecs".
Musee del Templo Mayor