The Aztec Calendar

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This particular piece has been part of my household ever since I can recall. My family and I travel to Morelos, Mexico almost every December to spend the holidays. I am pretty sure that this figure came home with us after one of those annual visits; I have seen it around for so long that it never really caught my attention, but last semester I took a Humanities class and there we learned about the different types of calendars, and it was not until then that I got more interested in learning more about the Aztec calendar.

The artist carved the Aztec calendar stone in 1479; it had naturally been dedicated to the sun god. The carving was 3 feet thick, almost 12 feet across, and it weighed almost 25 tones. The stone it is carved on is from basalt, it is solidified lava, an area where volcanoes were common. After many years, it was lost and it was buried under the central square of Mexico City for over 300 years. In 1790 the renovations began on the central square of Mexico City. On the 17th of December, this massive carving was unearthed, renewing interest in Mexico’s ancient cultures. It was the Aztec Calendar Stone. For a long time it was on display in the Western Tower of the Metropolitan Cathedral, and then in 1885 it was moved to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico where it is still to this day.

What caught my attention the most out of the entire thing would have to be what is called “the pointer” of the Aztec Calendar, which is the center of the entire thing. At the center of the pointer of the Aztec Calendar, there appears the face of Tonatiuh, the Sun. For this particular reason, the commonly-known Aztec Calendar has been identified as La Piedra del Sol, or the Sun Stone. So really, it should be called the Sun Stone and not the Aztec Calendar. The center of the stone is what gets me every time because it reminds me of an empire, but it is also kind of scary to look at it, if you look closely the sun god is holding a human art in each hand, and his tongue is a ritual blade for sacrifice. It is said that the sun required blood to remain strong, and human sacrifice were often offered. Also, it is unsure of how the stone itself was used, but it may have been simply a monument or possibly a sacrificial altar.

The following links break down the calendar to help you better understand it:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

You guys can visit this following link and type in your birthday or a special date and it will give you information about what that day means in the Aztec Calendar!

 

Questions:

  • Is there anything else you know about the Aztecs?
  • Why do you think this stone was to important to the Aztecs?
  • Are there any other things you can think of that may have been used as a sacrificial monument?

Brenda Pineda

 

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