General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Nov 2017/9 Rain
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Professor Bernard Ortiz de Montellano

Question for November 2013

How did the Aztecs know that this (fifth) world would end in an earthquake? Asked by Caldicott Prep School. Chosen and answered by Professor Bernard Ortiz de Montellano.

The sequence of first four ‘Suns’ in the Aztec Sunstone
The sequence of first four ‘Suns’ in the Aztec Sunstone (Click on image to enlarge)

The Aztecs associated the mode of destruction of the earth with the name of the day the present world would end. The First Sun (creation) ended on a day 4-Ocelot, and the world was ended by a jaguar consuming all the people in the world. The Second Sun ended on a day 4-Ehecatl (Wind) and humans were destroyed by a very strong wind. The Third Sun ended on a day 4-Quiahuitl (Rain), and the world was destroyed by a rain of fire. The Fourth creation ended on a day 4-Atl (water), and the world was destroyed by a great flood. The present era, the Fifth Sun, was predicted to end on a day 4-Ollin (Movement), and, thus, would be destroyed by a movement of the earth, i.e. an earthquake. This sequence is shown pictorially on the Aztec Sunstone, erroneously called “the Aztec Calendar Stone”.

The Movement sign, which matches in shape and outline the centre of the Sunstone
The Movement sign, which matches in shape and outline the centre of the Sunstone (Click on image to enlarge)

Picture sources:-
• Pic 1: drawing by Miguel Covarrubias, from The Aztecs: People of the Sun by Alfonso Caso, 1958 (numbers added)
• Pic 2: Movement sign: painted for Mexicolore by Mexican artist Felipe Dávalos.

NOTE: Try to visualize the Movement sign superimposed over the centre of the Sunstone, and you can see how clever the design is: the Fifth Sun appears to emerge from the four previous Suns...

Professor Bernard Ortiz de Montellano has answered 3 questions altogether:

How much energy can you get from one cocoa bean?

Would there have been more diseases among the English than among the Aztecs at that time?

How did the Aztecs know that this (fifth) world would end in an earthquake?

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