General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 8 May 2021/9 Flower
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Artefacts of the Aztecs/ancient Mesoamericans

Here are some carefully researched and richly illustrated story features on individual artefacts that were central to Aztec and wider Mesoamerican life - more on their way...!

PLUS: mini-features on intriguing artefacts (mostly in museums) we think you may find interesting... AND: check out our artefact study pages, each linked to a downloadable activity sheet (see menu, right).

‘Artefacts in the Spotlight’ Archive

‘Artefact of the Week’ Archive

Learn about Aztec furniture...

Our entry on the ‘double-headed serpent’

If you want to see a gallery of conch/shell artefacts from different parts of Mesoamerica...

Bottle gourdBottle gourds make

perfect water bottles!

‘Circle of Friends’ terracotta figureHow authentic is the popular ‘Aztec/

Maya Circle of Friends’ figure?

‘Desert Island Artefacts’: survey of our Panel of ExpertsWe survey our Panel of Experts on

their preferred ‘Desert Island Artefact’...

The {italictopilli} or ‘staff of justice’Nahua walking sticks of today are descended

from ancient Mesoamerican merchants’ staffs

Important Mexica artefacts found in Mexico CityA stunning infographic shows exactly where key

Mexica artefacts have been found in Mexico City

Sea shell or conchLarge sea shells have been luxury objects

for over 3,000 years in Mesoamerica

‘The Power of Brooms’The broom was a weapon - ‘the housewife’s

defense against invading dirt and disorder’

Bird feathers used in Aztec and Maya headdressesFeathers from ‘pretty much every bird’

were used by the Aztecs and the Maya

‘Moctezuma’s Headdress’ - an update 2018‘Moctezuma’s Headdress’ - a 2018 update:

Report on a one-day symposium in London

The {italicchimalli} or shield: defensive weapon par excellence in the Mesoamerican worldThe chimalli: one of the most emblematic

weapons in the history of Mesoamerica

Obsidian monkey jar from TexcocoThe story behind the famous monkey

shaped obsidian jar from Texcoco...

Slave’s collarUnder the day sign One Death

Aztec slaves were released from their collars

CoatlicueCoatlicue - the epitome

of Mexica/Aztec art...

Recently rediscovered ‘Headdress of Cuauhtémoc’Could this be the eighth known piece

of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican featherwork?

Featherwork shieldGuess how many feathers went

into making this famous Aztec shield?

True or false, genuine or fake?Europe has many Mesoamerican objects

that were victims of ‘mistaken identity’...

XicolliThe Templo Mayor Museum has a rare example

of a Mexica priest’s waistcoat...

Aztec ‘Birthing Figure’The Dumbarton Oaks ‘Aztec’ Birthing Figure

is striking, powerful, and entirely unparalleled

Stone jaguar’s head in the heart of Mexico CityA stone Aztec jaguar head still lurks

just 7 blocks from the Zócalo...

Chocolate whiskYou will never guess what some children

think a molinillo is for...!

Pine torchAztec pine torches gave plenty of

rich aroma as well as light!

See and Be Seen: (‘Smoking’) MirrorsSee and Be Seen - the meaning of

‘smoking’ obsidian mirrors

Personified knivesThe ‘personified knives’ from Ofrenda 125

of the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan

Ancient metate at the V&AThe V&A Museum has, stored away, a mysterious

‘monster’ metate which we’ve been allowed to see

AtlatlThe famous atlatl dart-thrower

was a truly ancient hunting weapon

The carrying frameRulers were said to carry

a heavy LOAD of responsibility...

MolcajeteThe best stone sauce bowls

take generations to ‘season’

Study the... PETATEThe reed mat ‘petate’ -

- you could bet your life on it...

Study the... DIGGING STICKSymbol of a good Aztec citizen?

The upright digging stick

Study the... HEARTHGetting to the hearth of the matter

- at the very centre of Aztec life

Aztec high-chair?Did the ancient Mexicans invent

high-chairs for meal times?

Baby basketWe share in schools the Aztecs’ joy of carrying

the most precious artefact of all - a young baby...


- the Aztecs’ Broadsword

UictliThe Aztec Uictli

was in some contexts a sacred instrument

Strictly ‘tzictli’ – sticky chicle!Strictly ‘tzictli’ - sticky chicle!

Nip up a gum tree and discover the original Aztec recipe...

Aztec microphone?An obsidian ‘microphone’

- basic kit for Aztec DJs!

The Birth of the Chewing Gum Tree¡Viva el Chicozapote!

Up the Chewing Gum Tree!

Chewing Gum used for other PurposesAs well as chewing chicle latex

ancient peoples used it to seal and stick


Aztec shields - status symbols par excellence


The ‘Queen’ of Aztec sacred drums ...


One of the most ancient of Aztec artefacts

A family of deities?Sun moon

Venus -

The ORIGINAL U-Tube?!U-tube - a great source of music...

...for over 800 years!

‘Host’ figurinesDid these figures represent

multi-ethnic ancient Mexico?

Pre-Hispanic marbles, or jacks?Did the ancient Mexicans

play marbles, or jacks?

Artefact in the Spotlight

Stone sculpture depicting a dog, volcanic lava stone, Mexica (Aztec), c. 1350-1521 CE, height 28 cms., Museum am Rothenbaum, Hamburg.

Dogs were regarded by the Aztecs as companions of the soul of their deceased master on its journey into the afterlife. The sculpture can be placed in this context. In addition, like turkeys they were also bred as food.

From Aztecs, eds. Doris Kurella, Martin Berger and Inés de Castro, with INAH, Mexico - catalogue for the exhibition Azteken, Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Hirmer Publishers, Germany, 2019, p. 301.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.