General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 28 Feb 2021/5 Monkey
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This page has been archived Detail of Aztec/Mexica turquoise mosaic showing a warrior figure

Turquoise Mosaics

The British Museum is the proud keeper of some of the finest examples of Aztec/Mexica turquoise mosaics in the world - on view in the current Moctezuma exhibition. Thanks to the latest technology, the BM’s Scientific Department has advanced our knowledge of how these extraordinary creations were achieved in pre-Hispanic Mexico (the BM book on this subject is highly recommended). (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

An example of Roberto Velázquez’ fine work on turquoise cutting
An example of Roberto Velázquez’ fine work on turquoise cutting (Click on image to enlarge)

But just how easy or difficult is it to work with tiny pieces of turquoise, using the sorts of simple hand tools available to the Aztecs/Mexica? A Mexican engineer, Roberto Velázquez, who has spent many years researching pre-Hispanic materials and atefacts (particularly in the field of musical instruments and sound generators), has very recently been undertaking some fascinating research on just this topic, and has published some of his findings online. By following the link below ( Turquoise Tesserae of Mexican Mosaics) you can watch intriguing videos of his work...

Note too that there is a major interdisciplinary conference on ‘Turquoise, Henry Christy and museum collections’ to be held at the BM from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th December 2009. We will be covering the findings of this important event...

Photos (top) by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore, (bottom) courtesy of Roberto Velázquez

Explore the BM’s book ‘Turquoise Mosaics’

‘Masters of Mosaic’

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