General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Nov 2017/5 Eagle
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Professor Michael Coe

Question for March 2009

(Talking of jigsaw puzzle pieces) why do there seem to be two 5-number domino pieces at the bottom of the Movement sign in the middle of the Sunstone? Asked by Awbridge Primary School. Chosen and answered by Professor Michael Coe.

‘The domino effect...’
‘The domino effect...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

About the two “domino pieces” below the central face on the Aztec Calendar Stone: you’ll find the same rectangles with five dots on the circle just outside the one with the 20 day-signs. The rectangle with a dot in the middle and a dot at each of the four corners stands for the universe -- with a centre and four directions. Specifically, it refers to the surface of the earth.

One way of seeing the Aztec concept of time and space, drawing by Lluvia Arras and Maria Ramos
One way of seeing the Aztec concept of time and space, drawing by Lluvia Arras and Maria Ramos (Click on image to enlarge)

The Aztec universe consisted of three parts: 13 layers of heaven, the earth’s surface (with a centre and 4 directions), and 9 underworlds.

Picture Sources:-
• Model of Sunstone (detail): photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore
• Drawing of ‘A schematic representation of the Aztec concept of time and space’, scanned from Handbook to Life in the Aztec World by Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, Facts on File, 2006, p. 302

Learn more about the Aztecs’ belief in the afterlife

Explore the ‘quincunx’ shape in the Sunstone

Learn more about the Aztecs’ belief in symmetry

Professor Michael Coe has answered 5 questions altogether:

(Talking of jigsaw puzzle pieces) why do there seem to be two 5-number domino pieces at the bottom of the Movement sign in the middle of the Sunstone?

Were there any laws governing when you could get married and have children?

Did the Aztecs have ‘cenotes’ [sacred wells or sinkholes] or caves?

If you’re so into Aztec stuff, would you like to have lived in Aztec times?

Who invented the 20-day calendar?

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