Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs

Mexico City, Mexico, 23 August 2016

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Part 2 of a visit to Museo Nacionale de Antropologia ..

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Mayans and Toltecs

The classic Maya period was 250 to 950AD and they had a remarkable density of settlement, mainly in the jungles of Guatemala and Belize. There was a collapse of those settlements and from 950 to 1520AD, the Mayans survived in the Yucatan, drawing their water from cenotes.

The Toltecs were originally “barbarians” from the north and rose after the fall of Teotihuacan, 900-1200AD, absorbing some of the survivors after the fall of Teotihuacan. Perhaps they were also responsible for the fall of Teotihuacan because no-one seems to know who caused that. After 1000AD there was also an invasion of the Mayans in the Yucatan, particularly Chichen Itza, so that the Yucatan became a Maya/ Toltec civiisation.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Lintel 26 of Yaxchilan, Chiapas.

Pert of a series including lintels 23,24 and 25 of the same building. They include events from the life of the ruler Its Balam (II), “Wise Jaguar” of Yaxchilan, over 46 years of Government. He was enthroned on October 20 of 681 A.D. and the lintel dates from February 8 724 AD, Late Classic era, Mayan Date 9.14.12.6.12, 2.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Stela 51 from Calakmol, Campeche

A ruler carrying a spear and warrior bag is standing on a captive.  The stela also bears the signature of Yu Xul, sculptor-polisher. It states that the ruler and the sculptor held a ritual to invoke the snake of the apparitions in the mountains. The text refers to the pyramid where the stela was found, representing the mountain, meeting place with the ancestors.  29 July 731AD, Late Classic period (600-800AD).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Stela 18 of Yaxchilan, Chiapas.

This Stela recalls the capture of Lord of Lacanjá by Lord of Yaxchilan. It speaks also of rituals and sacrifices in honor of deities and ancestors. 23 July 677AD, Late Classic period (600-800AD).
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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Ballcourt marker.

This disk shows the figure of a ball player, hip-kicking a large ball.  He has a wide belt and protectors on the elbow and knee. There are glyphs on the sides and on the ball, and in the outer band. a band of hieroglyphic that reads the date 9.7.17.12.14.11, 11 1×7 Zotz.  591 AD, Early Classic period.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Stuccoed Frieze (fragment).

This frieze was detached from the façade of a temple by looters. The fragment shows a young ruler flanked by old deities. This frieze appears to lack the face of another character and another deity, representing the change of power between two rulers. represented alternating between three gods. Each god sat above a temple door.  Placeres, Campeche, Early Classical period (250-600AD).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Chac-mool.

This character, whose name means Red Claw, was a Messenger or an intermediary between man and the gods, responsible for carrying to the deities offerings placed in the abdominal cavity. As well as the Atlanteans, this figure shows a combination of traits of several Mesoamerican cultures.  Chichen Itza, Yucatan, early PostClassical period (900-1250AD).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Pakal the Great, as he was in his tomb at Palenque (see also next two images and museum comments).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

The Tomb of Pakal the Great

The funerary crypt of Pakal was deep within the pyramid of the Temple of the Inscriptions. This reproduction shows details visible when it was first discovered in 1952 by Dr. Alberto Ruz, but lost today due to the perspiration and body heat of millions of visitors.  Access to the original monument is now restricted.

The sarcophagus, which rests on four supports, and the lid were carved from an enormous block of stone.  Due to its weight and dimensions, it must have been made before the pyramid was built. The relief on the lid shows Pakal as a vigorous adult, falling into the jaws of the White Bone Serpent, one of the entrances to the underworld. Behind him, a cross represents the sacred ceiba tree at the center of the world, with its roots in the underworld. Itzam Yeh, the celestial bird who accompanies the god Itzamnaaj, perches on the treetop, which reaches the celestial levels.

The inscription on the edge of the lid records the death date of eight generations of rulers preceding Pakal, from AD 514 to 643, the year in which his father dies. The date in front refers to his birth in 603 and his death in 683, and says that he was the son of Na Sak K’ uk’ (Lady White Quetzal) and K’uni Mo Hix (Precious Macaw Jaguar). The former rulers portrayed on the sides of the sarcophogus emerge from cracks in the earth together with a tree, indicating their transformation from venerated ancestors and the ongoing regeneration of life.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

The stucco figures on the wall bear staffs with the image of K’ aviil, patron deity of royalty and rulers. which suggests that they might represent the nine Palenque rulers prior to Pakul. However. they could also he the Nine Lords of the Night. deities reigning over the underworld in the Popul Vuh, or warriors protecting the deceased.

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Aztecs

Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Ballcourt rings.  A bit like basketball hoops perhaps.

The rise of the Aztecs followed the decline of the Toltec capital of Tula and featured militarism in all aspects of life.  The capital city, Tenochtitlan, was founded in 1325 and it came to dominate surrounding peoples.  The main gods were the patrons of military conquests; the most important ceremonies revolved around the capture of prisoners, and human sacrifice took on a central role in daily rituals.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

The Tlatoani, or Supreme ruler, wore a large plume of quetzal feathers on special occasions in honour of the god Quetzocoatl. This is a replica made in 1940 with pure gold inlays and green feathers of the quetzal and turquoise blue feathers of the blue grosbeak.
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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Pages from a codex with Spanish annotation – so, post-conquest.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Xolotl

Xolotl is the twin of Quetzalcoatl , a god in the shape of a dog (and they didn’t even have the letters to reverse).  In order to create man, Quetzalcoatl traveled to the underworld to search for the bones of the ancestral generations, taking the form of a dog.  Xolotl is the god of monstrosities and the patron of twins and animals that undergo transformations such as tadpoles that turn into frogs.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

La Piedra del Sol (Sun Stone or Aztec Calendar)

The Prehispanic peoples saw the light and warmth of the Sun as equal to Life itself. Therefore their creation myths saw in its presence and absence, the precarious nature of Life and the need for men to help maintain the Sun as the supreme deity.

The creation myth explains how gods created suns to rule the different stages of life. The first Sun was earthly, its patron Tezcatlipoca, and its signs the jaguar and darkness. The second Sun was created by Quetzalcoatl, the wind being its nature. Tlaloc made the third Sun, as a rain of fire, and Chalchiuhtlicue made the fourth sun, the water Sun. All of them were created and destroyed by the essence of their nature.

The gods Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc Chalchiuhtlicue  created  earth, wind, fire and water.  Then it was the turn of Nanahuatzin and Tecucistecatl, who became the Sun and Moon respectively. For this to happen, both gods had to set themselves on fire. That is why when man was created, he had to repay the gods with his own blood and that of his enemies.

(After the conquest , it thus aided the spread of Christianity that the new god had sacrificed himself for mankind, instead of a requirement the other way around.)

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

A small modelled Aztec marketplace…

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

(I don’t have any notes for the last three images).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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2 comments on “Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs

  1. leggypeggy says:

    The plume of quetzal feathers is especially striking, even if it is a replica.

    Liked by 1 person

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