General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Nov 2017/5 Eagle
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Dr. Leonardo López Luján

Question for August 2014

Did the Aztecs bury things for future generations like us to find? Asked by Eaton House The Manor School. Chosen and answered by Dr. Leonardo López Luján.

The world turned upside down; tongue-in-cheek illustration by Steve Radzi
The world turned upside down; tongue-in-cheek illustration by Steve Radzi

Mexica (Aztec) priests buried thousands upon thousands of objects inside their pyramids and temples. Our archaeologists at the Templo Mayor have found, inside stone chests and underfloor cavities, all manner of materials, from unpolished minerals, whole animals and plants, to human remains and hand-made cultural artefacts... All these things were buried in the 15th and 16th centuries as gifts for their deities: Huitzilopochtli (god of sunlight and war), Tláloc (god of rain), Chicomecóatl (goddess of maize), Ehécatl (wind god), etc. These presents were left in the hope of receiving, in return, gifts from the gods: plenty of rain, good harvests, health, wellbeing and military victories. Little did the Aztecs imagine that these offerings, instead of being received by their gods, would be found by us archaeologists, who study them and take them to our museums, to be admired by visitors of all ages...

A young girl photographs an ‘ofrenda’ (ritual offering) on display in the Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City
A young girl photographs an ‘ofrenda’ (ritual offering) on display in the Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City (Click on image to enlarge)

Español:-
Los sacerdotes mexicas enterraron miles y miles de ofrendas en el interior de sus pirámides y sus templos. Los arqueólogos del Templo Mayor hemos encontrado dentro de cajas de piedra y en cavidades excavadas bajo el piso todo tipo de materiales, desde minerales en bruto, pasando por plantas y animales, hasta restos humanos y objetos culturales que fueron elaborados por el hombre... Todos estos objetos se inhumaron en los siglos XV y XVI como regalos a sus divinidades, entre ellos Huitzilopochtli (dios solar y de la guerra), Tláloc (dios de la lluvia), Chicomecóatl (diosa del maíz), Ehécatl (dios del viento), etcétera. Estos dones fueron hechos con el objeto de obtener retribuciones de dichas deidades, como buenas lluvias, cosechas abundantes, salud, bienestar y triunfos militares. Pero los mexicas nunca imaginaron que los regalos, en lugar de ser recibidos por los dioses, serían encontrados por nosotros los arqueólogos, quienes los estudiamos y los llevamos a nuestro museo para que sean admirados por todos los visitantes...

Picture sources:-
• Main picture: illustration by, © copyright and courtesy of Steve Radzi, Mayavision (link below)
• Photo in the Templo Mayor Museum by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

Steve Radzi’s website

Dr. Leonardo López Luján has answered 4 questions altogether:

Which museum has the most Aztec objects in it?

Did the Aztecs bury things for future generations like us to find?

When you find something buried [in Mexico], how do you know it’s Aztec?

Were children allowed to go to the market by themselves?

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