Cancun

Cancum, Mexico, 31 August 2016

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

The last post was colour infrareds of the journey from Flores to Cancun.  I also took a few regular images.  In this and the next one we are taking off from Flores.

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

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Over the Caribbean.  There was also an infrared from the same location.

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From the air, one of the tourist resorts on the coast at Cancun.

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

A view of the beach from a tourist resort.  Normally, I would never stay in one of these by choice, but it was close to the airport and we had a flight to Cuba the next day. They really represent modern commercial colonialism.  They monopolise the beachfront and are designed to encourage you to stay within their economic zone.  We are in Mexico and yet the ATMs only deliver American dollars.  We encountered them in several places in the Caribbean.  They often deny local people their traditional access to beaches for recreation and fishing.  In Jamaica we were told how some drove local people out of their roadside stalls, depriving them of significant income, in the interests of providing a homogenised experience for their clients.

In this case, as well as convenience for the next day’s flight, we were also close to a Mayan museum and some local ruins.

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

Glyphs on this stela mention Yuhkno’m Ch’e’n i, who ruled Dzibanche in the southern Yucutan Pensula in the sixth century. The reliefs also show lords from neighboring cities of El Resbalón and Yo’okop, captured  in a war of conquest.  Yuhkno’m Ch’e’n i was the founder of the Kaonor or “Serpent Head” dynasty. After 636 AD, they moved to Calakmul, from where its rulers conquered Tikal and controlled the central area of Petén.

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Design outline of a similar stela.

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

This is a figure from the facade of a Mayan building, which were lavishly decorated and painted with scenes associated with divine rulers and supernatural beings.

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A censer (object for burning incense) associated with a cult of the ancestors.

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“The Maya were skilled mathematicians and astronomers. One of the most observed planets was Venus, since its transit predicted ominous auguries with the war. The Mayans recorded their cycle of 584 days in codices and stone panels like this one.”

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“A constant in the figures of the culture of the West is the representation of characters with vessels. Interestingly, both men and women carrry them. In agricultural societies, the vessel is a vital element as a container, for cooking and storing food.”

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“The rnaquetas are three-dimensional representations showing the way of life in the West, personalising gender roles and some who served. The detail and the purpose with which the pieces were made allow to visualize the expressiveness in bodies and faces, facilitating the identification of their gender.”

(Some of these translations may be a little garbled).

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

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“Exalting the continuous search for beauty has always been a defining characteristic of humanity. In the West, painting the figures combines the divine and the earthly. In this Ameca style piece you can see a black decoration that serves to represent body aspects such as the hair and the iris of the eye.  Also to settle the beauty of the face and in the case of the breasts is a symbol of the cyclical.”

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

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There was also a dragon (?) in the entrace of the museum.

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Outside was the remains of some Mayan dwellings and buildings.  This is a recreation from a notice board.

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The Mayans may have gone but the iguanas remain.

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This is the remains of the building shown on the notice board.

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The steps of a small pyramid.

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

Another iguana.

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Next was Cuba, but another trip is fast approaching (more on that soon) and I have run out of time for the moment.  To be continued at some later date….

Mexico City Monos

Mexico City, 18-22 August 2016

 

Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there may also be more information). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Teotihuacan, from Museo Nacionale de Antropologia.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Olmec.

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Huaxtec.

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Maya.

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Maya.

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Maya.

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Central Mexico City.

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Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico.

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Frida Kahlo’s House.

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Frida Kahlo’s House.

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Frida’s Studio.

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Frida’s bedroom.

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Frida’s corsets.

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Palacio Nacional.

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On the streets of Mexico City.

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On the streets of Mexico City.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

On the streets of Mexico City.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

On the streets of Mexico City.

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Tenochtitlan today.

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Chac mool.

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Tlaltecuhtli, Museo del Templo Mayor.

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Ball court marker?

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Jade Mask.

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Museo Nacional de Arte.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Museo Nacional de Arte.

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

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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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A small modelled Aztec marketplace…

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

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Olmecs, Gulf Coast, Zapotecs, Mixtecs and Teotihuacan

Mexico City, Mexico, 23 August 2016

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This is the first post of a journey to Cuba and the Caribbean with myself and my partner Jools from two years ago. You can see a map of the journey and links to posts here.  At this stage I only have permanent links to my immediately preceding visit to the Flinders Ranges and temporary links for other destinations.

Our first stop was Mexico City for a couple of days. The first place we visited was Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, which features a magnificent assemblage of objects from Mexico’s ancient civilisations.  I have divided this into two posts. The next post covers Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs.

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Olmecs

The Olmecs were the first civilisarion to appear in Mexico from about 1800BC in a region on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the west of the Yucatan Peninsula.  They were a significant influence on all succeeding cultures, including the cult of sacrifice and the ball court.  The Olmec period was from 1800BC to 250AD.  Later Gulf Coast cultures included El Taijin from 250 to 900AD and the Huaxtecs from 900 to 1300AD.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

Massive stone heads were a dramatic part of Olmec culture.  This one, largest of a group of several found at San Lorenzo, Veracruz, weighs 20 tonnes.

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This one is in somewhat better condition; an idealised depiction of a political or spiritual leader.

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I don’t have a label for this one but I presume it’s Huaxtec.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

Huilocintla’s tombstone.

This is Huaxtec.  It depicts a ceremony of self-sacrifice associated with the god Quetzacoatl-Ehecalt (wind god).  Quetzacoatl, a god also for the Aztecs, originated from the Olmecs.

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Huaxtec woman.

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Huaxtec lizard.

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Zapotecs and Mixtecs

The Zapotecs were another early culture, spanning from 600BC to 800AD.  They settled in mountain valleys near the Pacific coast.  They were overwhelmed by a force from Teotihuacan with superior obsidian (volcanic glass) spearheads and a different local group, the Mixtecs, took over from 800 to 1529AD.

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A mask representing the “bat god” found with the remains of five human sacrifices near the base of the eastern temple of building “H” in Monte Alban, the Zapotec capital  It is made of twenty-five pieces of jade, with the eyes and teeth made from seashells.

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Zapotec funeral urn.

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Monte Alban, the Zapotec capital.

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Deity, priest or ruler with jaguar’s head headdress.  The crossed arms show influence from South America and there are pictograms in the lower part.  Pacific coast, late postclassical (800-1521AD).

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Mixtec codex.

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These are both preHispanic codices, painted on deerskin, folded as an accordion and bound by wooden coverings. They relate historical, genealogical and mythical events and include pictures and writing.  Not many survived the Spanish conquest.  You read them from the bottom right in alternating directions, as indicated here by the red lines with loops.

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Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was a powerful culture from 200 to 900AD, forming extensive trade links and also conquests from the Zapotecs to the western Maya.  They left behind the remains of a huge city near Mexico City (Tenochtitlan) that mystified the Aztecs when they arrived.

 

Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

A Terracotta censer from about 600AD, probably linked to the cult of the god Tlaloc (god of rain, lightning and thunder, a fertility god and also a wrathful deity, responsible for both floods and droughts).

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

The rear of a stela that shows the links with the Maya.  The glyphs commemorate the Government of “Stormy Sky ” and the exploits of “Curly Nose”and his relative “Steaming Frog”.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

The front shows K’awil Chann, “Stormy Sky”, seventh ruler of Tikal. Over his head his father, Huh Chaan Mah K’ina, “Curly nose”, legitimates his right as Lord of Tikal. Early Classic period, 250-650AD.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

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