It had two stairways to access the two shrines on the top platform. All seven stages of the Templo Mayor, except the first, have been excavated and assigned to the reigns of the emperors who were responsible for them. In excavations at the Templo Mayor, different types of offerings have been found and have been grouped by researchers in terms of Time (the period in which the offering was deposited); Space (the location of the offering within the structure); Container (type and dimensions of the receptacle containing the objects); internal distribution (placement of objects within the offering) and value of the items. At the end of the festival, the image was broken apart and shared among the populace to be eaten. [16], According to tradition, the Templo Mayor is located on the exact spot where the god Huitzilopochtli gave the Mexica people his sign that they had reached the promised land: an eagle on a nopal cactus with a snake in its mouth. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 to make way for the new cathedral. [4], Coordinates: 19°26′06″N 99°07′53″W / 19.43500°N 99.13139°W / 19.43500; -99.13139, Sacred Precinct and surrounding buildings, Museo de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, List of pre-columbian archaeological sites in Mexico City, "EL RECINTO CEREMONIAL Y EL TEMPLO MAYOR Evolución de la Gran Tenochtitlan", "Model of the ceremonial precinct of Mexico-Tenochtitlan", "The tasks of exploration and restoration of the sculptures", "The morphology and the orientation of the images", Templo Mayor entry on The Visual History Project, Colegio de San Ignacio de Loyola Vizcaínas, Convent of Jesús María and Our Lady of Mercy, Parish of Jesús María and Our Lady of Mercy, House of the First Print Shop in the Americas, Museum of Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Palace of the Inquisition (Museum of Mexican Medicine), Colegio de San Pedro y San Pablo, now Mexico City (Museum of the Constitutions), Palace of the Counts of San Mateo de Valparaiso, House of the Count de la Torre Cosío y la Cortina,, Buildings and structures demolished in the 16th century, Articles containing Spanish-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Templo Mayor was the principal sites of Tenochtitlan, the former capital of the Aztec empire. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. All the temples, including the Templo Mayor, were sacked, taking all objects of gold and other precious materials. Among the most important buildings were the ballcourt, the Calmecac (area for priests), and the temples dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca and the sun. [4], Fray Toribio de Motolinía, a Spanish friar who arrived to Mexico soon after the invasion, writes in his work Memoriales that the Aztec feast of Tlacaxipehualiztli "took place when the sun stood in the middle of [the Temple of] Huitzilopochtli, which was at the equinox". Tlaloc was the deity of water and rain and was associated with agricultural fertility. The idol of Huitzilopochtli was modeled from amaranth seeds held together with honey and human blood. One of the best preserved and most important is the Palace (or House) of the Eagle Warriors. Archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, in his essay "Symbolism of the Templo Mayor," posits that the orientation of the temple is indicative of the total vision that the Mexica had of the universe (cosmovision). Widespread throughout the entire population, this practice was performed by perforating certain fleshy parts of the body—such as the earlobes, lips, tongue, chest, calves, et cetera—with obsidian blades, agave needles or bone perforators. Another important festival was held during the month of Toxcatl when an effigy of the god made from dough and dressed in his costume was paraded through the city and then eaten at the Templo Mayor. And the god Tlaloc, who was a rain and agricultural deity. The entirety was probably placed in ceremonial boxes—tepetlacalli—as an offering to the gods. [13] While Cortes left for Veracruz to confront Spaniards looking to arrest him, Pedro de Alvarado learned of a plan to attack the Spaniards, and staged a pre-emptive attack on the Aztecs in the Sacred Precinct while they celebrated a religious festival. At the very same time, and with the typical Mesoamerican passion for duality, it was also a representation of Coatepetl, the sacred 'Serpent Mountain' where Huitzilopochtli vanquished the other gods. Sculptures, flint knives, vessels, beads and other sumptuary ornaments—as well as minerals, plants and animals of all types, and the remains of human sacrifice—were among the items deposited in offerings. These rulers, and others, each employed the resources and labour given in tribute by neighbouring states in order … The Templo Mayor (Great Temple) was one of the main temples of the Aztecs.It was in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City.Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica.The temple was called the huei teocalli in the Nahuatl language. "[18] Matos Moctezuma supports his supposition by claiming that the temple acts as an embodiment of a living myth where "all sacred power is concentrated and where all the levels intersect." Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. It's the name given to a vast complex of religious and civic buildings that were once the center of the city of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Azt… Polychrome ceramic vase depicting Tlaloc, god of rain. From the Templo Mayor (Main Temple) of Tenochtitlan. Although many are of Mexica design, there are also abundant items from other peoples, brought in as tribute or through trade. The Tzompantli found during the excavations of Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan Aztec civilisation Mexico City Museo Del Templo Mayor. One of the sunset dates corresponding to the east–west axis of the late stages, including the last, is 4 April, which in the Julian calendar of the 16th century was equivalent to 25 March. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica. [5] This museum is the result of the work done since the early 1980s to rescue, preserve and research the Templo Mayor, its Sacred Precinct, and all objects associated with it. Huitzilopochtli was the supreme Aztec god and considered the god of the sun, war, gold, rulers, and he was patron of Tenochtitlan. [9], The excavated site consists of two parts: the temple itself, exposed and labeled to show its various stages of development, along with some other associated buildings, and the museum, built to house the smaller and more fragile objects. Leopoldo Batres did some excavation work at the end of the 19th century under the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral because at the time, researchers thought the cathedral had been built over the ruins of the temple. The lower panel shows processions of armed warriors converging on a zacatapayolli, a grass ball into which the Mexica stuck bloody lancets during the ritual of autosacrifice. Related to Room 6, Room 7 contains exhibits of the agricultural technology of the time, especially in the growing of corn and the construction of chinampas, the so-called "floating gardens". This room contains various images of the god usually worked in green or volcanic stone or in ceramic. of war and a sun god. Next to this ball field was the "huey tzompanti" where the skulls of sacrifice victims were kept after being covered in stucco and decorated. Templo Mayor, the great temple of the Aztecs, stands in the heart of Mexico City. The Templo Mayor was the most important structure at the centre of a large sacred precinct measuring 365 m (1,200 ft) on each side and surrounded by a wall which, because of its snake relief carvings, was known as the coatepantli or 'Serpent Wall'. The Spaniards were simply blown away, not only by its size, but by the beauty and majesty of the many temples and palaces of which Templo Mayor was the crown jewel. In 1948, Hugo Moedano and Elma Estrada Balmori excavated a platform containing serpent heads and offerings. Room 3 demonstrates the economics of the Aztec empire in the form of tribute and trade, with examples of finished products and raw materials from many parts of Mesoamerica. The Templo Mayor was first constructed in the reign of Itzcoatl (r. 1427-1440 CE), improved upon by his successor Motecuhzoma I (r. 1440-1469 CE), and again enlarged during the reign of Ahuitzotl (r. 1486-1502 CE). In Aztec mythology, Coyolxauhqui (Classical Nahuatl: Coyolxāuhqui IPA:[kojoɬˈʃaːʍki], "Face painted with Bells") was a daughter of Coatlicue and Mixcoatl and is the leader of the Centzon Huitznahuas, the star gods. [14], After the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521, the lands controlled by the Aztecs became part of the Spanish empire. Web. Its exact location is on one side of what is now Donceles Street. Ancient History Encyclopedia. And so the Templo Mayor was part of this larger sacred precinct that included Templo Mayor is the Spanish word for ''Main Temple.'' This room contains urns where dignitaries where interred, funerary offerings, as well as objects associated with self and human sacrifice—such as musical instruments, knives and skulls. The discovery renewed the interest in excavating the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, underneath Mexico City. It was at the time the largest and most important active ceremonial center. Most offerings from the excavations are from this time. Double reason, then, for the Aztecs to do all they could to keep this fickle deity in a good mood. [4], The push to fully excavate the site did not come until late in the 20th century. Templo Mayor. Within each shrine was a wooden statue of the god. [10], Construction of the first Templo Mayor began sometime after 1325. A small silver mask and a gold bell were found inside one urn, and second gold bell and two green stone beads were placed in the other. The museum exists to make all of the finds available to the public. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. It was also the scene of state occasions such as coronations and the place of countless human sacrifices where the blood of the victims was thought to feed and appease the two great gods to whom it was dedicated. [5], The sixth temple was built during the reign of Ahuizotl. Cartwright, M. (2016, February 05). These benches are composed of two panels. A chacmool was uncovered as well. [19] The Templo Mayor itself delineated the eastern side of the Sacred Precinct. Le Templo Mayor (« Grand Temple » en espagnol), était le nom de la grande pyramide à degrés de Tenochtitlan, la capitale des Aztèques, ainsi que, par synecdoque, du centre cérémoniel dans lequel elle se situaits 1 (également appelé Recinto sagrado en espagnol, c'est-à-dire « Enceinte sacrée »). According to Aztec sources, as many as 84,000 people, all made captive in wars against their neighbours, were sacrificed on a single occasion to mark the consecration of the Templo Mayor, or Great Pyramid, of Tenochtitlan in 1487. A number of important artifacts have been found in this area, the most important of which are two nearly identical large ceramic sculptures of Mictlantecuhtl, the god of death. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. The great platform was decorated with serpents and braziers, some of which are in the form of monkeys and some in the form of Tlaloc. Between 1325 and 1519, the Templo Mayor was expanded, enlarged, and reconstructed during seven main building phases, which likely corres… Located at the centre of Tenochtitlan the Templo Mayor was the religious and social heart of the Aztec empire. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. In fact, much of Mexico City was built over Tenochtitlan, but some original sites remain, including the Great Temple, known as Templo Mayor, which was the most important building in the city. Other ceremonial items include musical instruments, jewelry, and braziers for the burning of copal. As the temple grew over the years, offerings and precious goods were ritually buried within its ever-expanding layers. Related Content The temple on the north side, painted with blue stripes, was dedicated to Tlaloc and marked the summer solstice (symbolic of the wet season) whilst Huitzilopochtli’s south-side shrine, painted red, marked the winter solstice (symbolic of the dry season and a time for warfare). These are found under floors; in platforms, architectural bodies, stairways and in temples. The Templo Mayor or Great Temple (called Hueteocalli by the Aztecs) dominated the central sacred precinct of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Greenstone Mask, Teotihuacanby Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA). In 1519, this was the last day of Tlacaxipehualiztli, that is, precisely the day of the feast of the month. Very little of this layer remains because of the destruction the Spaniards wrought when they invaded the city. Topped by twin temples dedicated to the war god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc it was a focal point of the Aztec religion and very centre of the Aztec world. The museum has eight main exhibition halls, each dedicated to a different theme. Fray Bernardino de Sahagún reported that the Sacred Precinct had 78 buildings; the Templo Mayor towered above all of them. Each stairway was defined by balustrades flanking the stairs terminating in menacing serpent heads at the base. [5], Most of what is known about this temple is based on the historical record. On 21 February 1978, workers for the electric company were digging at a place in the city then popularly known as the "island of the dogs". Due to the god's serpentine nature, the temple had a circular base instead of a rectangular one. The city of Tenochtitlan was established in 1325 on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco (much of which has since been filled in to accommodate Mexico City which now exists on this site), and with the city’s foundation the original structure of the Templo Mayor was built. [4] Cortés, who had ordered the destruction of the existing capital, had a Mediterranean-style city built on the site. The Aztecs considered Templo Mayor, or the “Main Temple,” to be the center of the universe. Room 5 is dedicated to Tlaloc, the other principal deity of the Aztecs and one of the oldest in Mesoamerica. [5][7], The fifth temple (1481–1486) is dated during the short reign of Tizoc. Now imagine a complex even bigger, formed by over 70 structures with taller pyramids - this is Templo Mayor! [8], On 14 November 1519, Cortes seized the emperor Moctezuma II and ordered the destruction of all the religious relics of the Aztecs. At this time, the stairway to the shrine of Tlaloc was defined by a pair of undulating serpents and in the middle of this shrine was a small altar defined by a pair of sculpted frogs. Essential elements of the old imperial center, including the Templo Mayor, were buried under similarly key features of the new city in what is now the historical downtown of the Mexico City. [17], The various levels of the Temple also represent the cosmology of the Aztec world. The relief on the stone was later determined to be Coyolxauhqui, Huitzilopochtli's sister, and was dated to the end of the 15th century. The most prized work is a large pot with the god's face in high relief that still preserves much of the original blue paint. The temple was called the Huēyi Teōcalli [we:ˈi teoːˈkali][1] in the Nahuatl language. The temple was actually a 60 m (180 ft) high pyramid platform with four tiers and two flights of steps on the western side leading to a summit with two twin temples or shrines, the whole structure being faced with lime plaster and brightly painted. Their temple, dedicated to the god Tezcatlipoca, lies under the current Museo de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público to the south of the Templo Mayor. The offerings were usually contained in cavities, in stone urns, and in boxes made of slabs. The first temple was begun by the Aztecs the year after they founded the city, and the temple was rebuilt six times. The sacrifice of animals and non-fatal blood-letting amongst the priestly class were common practices but the Aztecs have now become infamous for their most dramatic and important choice of offering: human sacrifice. [10][17] This indicates the place where the plane of the world that humans live in intersects the thirteen levels of the heavens, called Topan and the nine levels of the underworld, called Mictlan.[10]. Sacrificial victims were usually war captives but children were also sacrificed as their tears were considered a favourable link with the life-giving raindrops from Tlaloc. [5][7][11], The second temple was built during the reigns of Acamapichtli, Huitzilihuitl and Chimalpopoca between 1375 and 1427. The Temple of Quetzalcoatl was located to the west of the Templo Mayor. [5] The site is part of the Historic Center of Mexico City, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987. Let's take a look at some of the Aztec temples specifically: Templo Mayor. AZTEC TEMPLE 'TEMPLO MAYOR'. The pyramid was reached via a sacred Processional Way constructed along an east-west axis. The site continues to be excavated to the present day with regular new findings adding to the history of this greatest of Aztec monuments. At the centre of Tenochtitlan was a ceremonial complex containing public buildings, temples, and palaces, including: the Templo Mayor, which was dedicated to the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli and the Rain God Tlaloc; the temple of Quetzalcoatl; the tlachtli (ball game court) with the tzompantli or rack of skulls; the … 02 Dec 2020. This led to the excavation of the Huēyi Teōcalli (Templo Mayor), directed by Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. Archaeologists realized the carving must be part of Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of the Aztec Empire, known to lie somewhere below the city center based on colonial-era accounts and previous limited digging projects. The twin temples, which sit atop a large pyramid, are dedicated to the war god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc. The Templo Mayor was first constructed in the reign of Itzcoatl (r. 1427-1440 CE), improved upon by his successor Motecuhzoma I (r. 1440-1469 CE), and again enlarged during the reign of Ahuitzotl (r. 1486-1502 CE). Representing fire and water respectively, this pair of deities probably symbolized the concept of "burning water," a metaphor for warfare. "Templo Mayor." These stairways were used only by the priests and sacrificial people. The others were sacrificed at the Great Temple that night, which could be seen from the Spanish camps. Just over two meters down, the diggers struck a pre-Hispanic monolith. The Templo Mayor was approximately ninety feet high and covered in stucco. Many have seen the pyramids of Teotihuacan. UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1900: Aztec civilization, Mexico, 15th century. Sacrifices could also take place to commemorate important state events. Height: 60m/197ft The gods: Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc Distinctives: A double temple Completed: 1497 Materials: Built of stone and covered with stucco and polychrome paint Templo Mayor was a part of the sacred area of the city of Tenochtitlan, now … The Spaniards were trapped between two Aztec forces and 68 were captured alive. On the south side, there is a sacrificial stone called a "téchcatl" and a sculpted face. [9], Aztec temples were typically expanded by building over prior ones, using the bulk of the former as a base for the latter, as later rulers sought to expand the temple to reflect the growing greatness of the city of Tenochtitlan. The pyramid was razed following the Spanish Conquest - the Aztecs had used it as a rallying point and defended it vigorously - and a Christian cross had been placed on top of it. The precinct may have contained as many as 78 different structures but the Templo Mayor was by far the tallest and must have dominated the city skyline. The Templo Mayor was a 60 metre high architectural mountain dedicated to The Gods TlaloC & Huitzilopochtli. Nine of these were built in the 1930s, and four dated from the 19th century, and had preserved colonial elements. The entrance of each temple had statues of robust and seated men which supported the standard-bearers and banners of handmade bark paper. Aztec Temple Pic. [20] [5], From 1978 to 1982, specialists directed by archeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma worked on the project to excavate the Temple. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. The entire building was originally covered with stucco and polychrome paint. Here are displayed the first finds associated with the temple, from the first tentative finds in the 19th century to the discovery of the huge stone disk of Coyolxauhqui, which initiated the Templo Mayor Project. Finally, the heads of victims were displayed on racks known as tzompantli which were set at the base of the pyramid. [3] Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times. [11], The pyramid was composed of four sloped terraces with a passage between each level, topped by a great platform that measured approximately 80 by 100 meters (262 by 328 feet). Huixachtlan and was used to light the sacred fire atop the Templo Mayor before being transferred to all subsidiary temples in the city. Cite This Work The upper one is a frieze with undulating serpents in bas-relief. [10] According to these records, the first pyramid was built with earth and perishable wood, which may not have survived to the present time. In 1966, Eduardo Contreras and Jorge Angula excavated a chest containing offerings, which had first been explored by Gamio. Last modified February 05, 2016. It was so named because it was slightly elevated over the rest of the neighborhood and, during flooding, street dogs would congregate there. Inside of him were bags containing jade, bones and amulets to give life to the god. The circular monolith of Coyolxauhqui also dates from this time. Three of the larger finds related to the temple are the 3.5 metre (diameter) stone of Coyolxauhqui from the pyramid base, a chacmool sculpture (used to burn victim’s hearts) from the shrine of Tlaloc, and a 12-ton rectangular monolith depicting the earth-goddess Tlaltecuhtli. The project to shore up the cathedral at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st brought to light a number of artifacts.