One-of-a-Kind Aztec Dog Burials Found in Mexico National Geographic - February 18, 2014
Archaeologists in Mexico City have made an extraordinary discovery -- the skeletons of 12 dogs all mysteriously buried together more than 500 years ago, in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Dog burials have been uncovered before at archaeological digs, but this is a first such finding not associated with a building or a human burial, according to a report published in Spanish last week by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
Aztec conquest altered genetics among early Mexico inhabitants, new DNA study shows PhysOrg - January 31, 2013
For centuries, the fate of the original Otomí inhabitants of Xaltocan, the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state, has remained unknown. Researchers have long wondered whether they assimilated with the Aztecs or abandoned the town altogether. The answers may lie in DNA. Following this line of evidence, the researchers theorize that some original Otomies, possibly elite rulers, may have fled the town. Their exodus may have led to the reorganization of the original residents within Xaltocan, or to the influx of new residents, who may have intermarried with the Otomí population.
Pictures: "Important" Aztec Child Burials Found in Mexico City National Geographic - August 1, 2012
Physical anthropologist Jorge Arturo Talavera Gonzalez examines 1 of 17 skeletons - including 11 child burials - unearthed recently in Mexico City. The remains, he said, offer evidence of a merchant neighborhood of an Aztec people known as the Tepanec, whose glory days were some 700 years ago. Found with the remains of a newborn baby in her arms, the woman pictured above must have died after giving birth, said Talavera González, who is affiliated with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Further analysis is required to pin down causes of death for the 17 burials, but holes in some of the skulls hint at human sacrifice. Around the bodies, experts also found an altar, fragments of rooms, and various ceremonial objects.
Aztec, Maya Were Rubber-Making Masters? National Geographic - June 29, 2010
Ancient civilizations in much of Mexico and Central America were making different grades of rubber 3,000 years before Charles Goodyear "stabilized" the stuff in the mid-19th century, new research suggests. The Aztec, Olmec, and Maya of Mesoamerica are known to have made rubber using natural latex - a milky, sap-like fluid found in some plants. Mesoamerica extends roughly from central Mexico to Honduras and Nicaragua. Ancient rubber makers harvested latex from rubber trees and mixed it with juice from morning glory vines, which contains a chemical that makes the solidified latex less brittle.
Mesoamerican people perfected details of rubber processing more than 3,000 years ago: study PhysOrg - May 24, 2010
The Aztec god, Xiuhtecuhtli, as one of the nine Lords of the Night, offers up rubber balls in this drawing. Spanish explorers encountering an advanced civilization in Mesoamerica in the 16th century had plenty of things to be astonished about, but one type of object in particular was unlike anything they had ever seen before: rubber balls. No such stretchy, bouncy material existed in the Old World, and they had to struggle to find words to describe it.
Untouched Tomb of Aztec King on Verge of Discovery? National Geographic - July 13, 2009
After nearly 30 years in the field, archaeologist Leonardo López Luján may be on the verge of the discovery of a lifetime: the only known tomb of an Aztec king. An air of excitement has been thickening around Mexico's Templo Mayor (Great Temple) since 2006, when excavations near the temple revealed a stone monolith with a carving of an Aztec goddess.
49 Aztec Warriors in Mass Grave National Geographic - February 11, 2009
Archaeologists in Mexico City have discovered a mass grave of what may have been the last warriors to resist conquistador Hernán Cortés, who took the Aztec capital in 1521.
Aztec Math Decoded, Reveals Woes of Ancient Tax Time National Geographic - April 3, 2008
Today's tax codes are complicated, but the ancient Aztecs likely shared your pain. To measure tracts of taxable land, Aztec mathematicians had to develop their own specialized arithmetic, which has only now been decoded. By reading Aztec records from the city-state of Tepetlaoztoc, a pair of scientists recently figured out the complicated equations and fractions that officials once used to determine the size of land on which tributes were paid. Two ancient codices, written from A.D. 1540 to 1544, survive from Tepetlaoztoc. They record each household and its number of members, the amount of land owned, and soil types such as stony, sandy, or "yellow earth." "The ancient texts were extremely detailed and well organized, because landowners often had to pay tribute according to the value of their holdings," said co-author Maria del Carmen Jorge y Jorge at the National Autonomous University in Mexico.
Aztec Pyramid, Elite Graves Unearthed in Mexico City National Geographic - January 5, 2008
A structure believed to be an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid has been discovered in central Mexico City and could drastically revise the early history of the ancient empire, officials announced. The structure was found inside a larger pyramid known as the Grand Temple at the site of the Aztec city of Tlatelolco.
Snake-bird gods fascinated both Aztecs and ancient Egyptians
Reuters - September 24, 2007
Ancient Mexicans and Egyptians who never met and lived centuries and thousands of miles apart both worshiped feathered-serpent deities, built pyramids and developed a 365-day calendar, a new exhibition shows. Billed as the world's largest temporary archeological showcase, Mexican archeologists have brought treasures from ancient Egypt to display alongside the great indigenous civilizations of Mexico for the first time.
The exhibition, which boasts a five-tonne, 3,000-year-old sculpture of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II and stone carvings from Mexican pyramid at Chichen Itza, aims to show many of the similarities of two complex worlds both conquered by Europeans in invasions 1,500 years apart. "There are huge cultural parallels between ancient Egypt and Mexico in religion, astronomy, architecture and the arts. They deserve to be appreciated together," said exhibition organizer Gina Ulloa, who spent almost three years preparing the 35,520 square-feet (3,300 meter-square) display.
The exhibition, which opened at the weekend in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, shows how Mexican civilizations worshiped the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl from about 1,200 BC to 1521, when the Spanish conquered the Aztecs.
From 3,000 BC onward Egyptians often portrayed their gods, including the Goddess of the Pharaohs Isis, in art and sculpture as serpents with wings or feathers. The feathered serpent and the serpent alongside a deity signifies the duality of human existence, at once in touch with water and earth, the serpent, and the heavens, the feathers of a bird," said Ulloa. Egyptian sculptures at the exhibition -- flown to Mexico from ancient temples along the Nile and from museums in Cairo, Luxor and Alexandria - show how Isis' son Horus was often represented with winged arms and accompanied by serpents. Cleopatra, the last Egyptian queen before the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, saw herself as Isis and wore a gold serpent in her headpiece.
In the arts, Mexico's earliest civilization, the Olmecs, echo Egypt's finest sculptures. Olmec artists carved large man-jaguar warriors that are similar to the Egyptian sphinxes on display showing lions with the heads of gods or kings. The seated statue of an Egyptian scribe carved between 2465 and 2323 BC shows stonework and attention to detail that parallels a seated stone sculpture of an Olmec lord. There is no evidence the Olmecs and Egyptians ever met.
Shared traits run to architecture, with Egyptians building pyramids as royal tombs and the Mayans and Aztecs following suit with pyramids as places of sacrifice to the gods. While there is no room for pyramids at the exhibition -- part of the Universal Forum of Cultures, an international cultural festival held in Barcelona in 2004 -- organizers say it is the first time many of pieces have left Egypt. They include entire archways from Nile temples, a bracelet worn by Ramses II and sarcophagi used by the pharaohs. Mexico has also brought together Aztec, Mayan and Olmec pieces from across the country.
Aztec Leader's Tomb Found Live Science - August 3, 2007
The find could provide an extraordinary window into Aztec civilization at its apogee. Ahuizotl (ah-WEE-zoh-tuhl), an empire-builder who extended the Aztecs' reach as far as Guatemala, was the last emperor to complete his rule before the Spanish Conquest.
Accounts written by Spanish priests suggest the area was used by the Aztecs to cremate and bury their rulers. But no tomb of an Aztec ruler has ever been found, in part because the Spanish conquerors built their own city atop the Aztec's ceremonial center, leaving behind colonial structures too historically valuable to remove for excavations. One of those colonial buildings was so damaged in a 1985 earthquake that it had to be torn down, eventually giving experts their first chance to examine the site off Mexico City's Zocalo plaza, between the Metropolitan Cathedral and the ruins of the Templo Mayor pyramid.
Archaeologists told The Associated Press that they have located what appears to be a six-foot-by-six-foot entryway into the tomb about 15 feet below ground. The passage is filled with water, rocks and mud, forcing workers to dig delicately while suspended from slings. Pumps work to keep the water level down. "We are doing it very, very slowly ... because the responsibility is very great and we want to register everything,'' said Leonardo Lopez Lujan, the lead government archaeologist on the project. "It's a totally new situation for us, and we don't know exactly what it will be like down there.''
As early as this fall, they hope to enter the inner chambers -- a damp, low-ceilinged space -- and discover the ashes of Ahuizotl, who was likely cremated on a funeral pyre in 1502. By that time, Columbus had already landed in the New World. But the Aztecs' first contact with Europeans came 17 years later, in 1519, when Hernan Cortes and his band of conquistadors marched into the Mexico Valley and took hostage Ahuizotl's successor, his nephew Montezuma.
Ahuizotl's son Cuauhtemoc (kwow-TAY-mock) took over from Montezuma and led the last resistance to the Spaniards in the battle for Mexico City in 1521. He was later taken prisoner and killed. Like Montezuma, his burial place is unknown. Because no Aztec royal tomb has ever been found, the archaeologists are literally digging into the unknown. Radar indicates the tomb has up to four chambers, and scientists think they will find a constellation of elaborate offerings to the gods on the floor. "He must have been buried with solemn ceremony and rich offerings, like vases, ornaments ... and certainly some objects he personally used,'' said Luis Alberto Martos, director of archaeological studies at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.
The tomb's curse -- water -- may also be its blessing. Lopez Lujan said the constant temperature of the pH-neutral water in the flooded chambers, together with the lack of oxygen, discourages decomposition of materials like wood and bone that have been found at other digs around the pyramid, which was all but destroyed in the Conquest. "This would be quite an important find for Aztec archaeology,'' said Michael Smith, an archaeologist at Arizona State University who is not connected to the dig. "It would be tremendously important because it would be direct information about kingship, burial and the empire that is difficult to come by otherwise.''
All signs found so far point to Ahuizotl. The site lies directly below a huge, recently discovered stone monolith carved with a representation of Tlaltecuhtli (tlahl-tay-KOO-tlee), the Aztec god of the earth. Depicted as a woman with huge claws and a stream of blood flowing into her mouth as she squats to give birth, Tlaltecuhtli was believed to devour the dead and then give them new life. The god was so fearsome that Aztecs normally buried her depictions face down in the earth. However, this one is face-up. In the claw of her right foot, the god holds a rabbit and 10 dots, indicating the date "10 Rabbit'' -- 1502, the year of Ahuizotl's death. "Our hypothesis is precisely that this is probably the tomb of Ahuizotl,'' Lopez Lujan said. Any artifacts linked to Ahuizotl would bring tremendous pride to Mexico. The country has sought unsuccessfully to recover Aztec artifacts like the feather-adorned "shield of Ahuizotl'' and the "Montezuma headdress'' from the Ethnology Museum in Vienna, Austria. "Imagine it -- this wasn't just any high-ranking man. The Aztecs were the most powerful society of their time before the arrival of the Spaniards,'' Martos said. "That's why Ahuizotl's tomb down there is so important.''
Mexico: Divers discover huge underground river Guardian - March 1, 2007
Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula: Longest underground river found Reuters - March 1, 2007
Mexican archeologists find largest Aztec figure Reuters - October 13, 2006
Asked on Friday if it was the most important Aztec piece found, anthropologist Alvaro Barrera said: "For its size, yes, for the importance ... we have to wait to see what we discover and its context."When it was discovered, officials said the monolith and an adjacent 15th century altar comprised the most significant Aztec find in decades. Now, with the realization that the monolith is likely a giant stone idol, some are calling it one of the greatest archeological finds in a country that also boasts pyramids like Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan.
Last year scientists found a 2,600-year-old, 30-tonne idol in Tamtoc, San Luis Potosi, belonging to an older culture."These two finds, Tamtoc and this stone, on a national level are the most important ever. We still haven't completely uncovered it, but we are getting very excited," said Alberto Diez, a member of the archeological team. The scientists believe the monolith could cover the entrance to a chamber and may soon announce more finds. "Most likely we will find an enormous offering below it. If there is a chamber, we will find a series of impressive offerings," Diez said.The Aztecs' often bloody reign began in the 14th century and ended when they were subjugated in 1521 by the Spanish, led by Hernan Cortes.
Aztec rulers began building the pyramid-shaped Templo Mayor in 1375. Its ruins are now yards from downtown's choking traffic.The temple was a center of human sacrifice. At one ceremony in 1487, historians say tens of thousands of victims were sacrificed, their hearts ripped out. Spanish conquistadors destroyed the temple when they razed the city and used its stones to help build their own capital. Archeologists say the Spaniards came within feet of discovering the idol. Now the site is surrounded by Spanish colonial buildings like Mexico City's cathedral and the historical National Palace as well as convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.
Aztec Temple Found in Mexico City "Exceptional," Experts Say National Geographic- October 4, 2006
Archaeologists working in the heart of Mexico City have discovered an altar and a monolith that date back more than 500 years to Aztec times.
Aztec Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui
Aztec Serpent Moon Goddess
Aztec Calendar Disk
Aztec Double Headed Serpent
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