Curiously, when Hernan Cortes and his men conquered the Aztec empire in the sixteenth century they asked the natives who had built such a colossal city, to what the Aztec replied; We were not the builders of Teotihuacan, this city was built by the Quinanatzin, a race of giants who came from the heavens in the times of the SECOND SUN. The Aztec calendar stone was made by inhabitants of modern day Mexico - Buy this stock photo and explore similar images at Adobe Stock That would be only about $15,000 today, according to – a total bargain for hauling a 25-ton political monument/altar/calendar a couple of blocks down the road. The Sun Stone is an Aztec sculpture created from a single large rock. ( CC BY-SA 2.0 ) The tonalpohualli calendar . The Aztec Sun Stone, also known as Stone of the Five Eras, is a sculpture created by the Aztec civilization at some point between the late 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. Encyclopedia Britannica notes that the central panel of the Sun Stone holds the character for 4 Ollin (Movement), the date in Fifth Era when the world would be destroyed by earthquakes. Historically, the Aztec name for the huge basaltic monolith is Cuauhxicalli Eagle Bowl, but it is universally known as the Aztec Calendar or Sun Stone. Sun Stone. The colors wore off with use and time, leaving the weathered stone we know today. Monolith of Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Lord) Double-headed serpent . That's because the stone contains two conflicting time references — one to the Aztec date of 13 Reed, which is our year 1479 C.E., and another to the reign of the emperor who commissioned the stone, Moctezuma II, who didn't take the throne until 1502. They made paintings, pottery, carvings, and many other things. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. After all, similar stones commissioned by previous rulers like Moctezuma I had massive carvings on their sides, too, and were almost guaranteed to do double duty as ceremonial altars and political monuments, as Khristaan Villela relates. The stone has both mythological and astronomical significance. Granted, it was supposed to start up again after that, but who wants to take chances when you can just kill some captives instead? The third sun ended with fiery rain, while the fourth sun was extinguished by massive floods. That also backs up the possibility, discussed by researcher Susan Milbrath, that the Sun Stone might have commemorated an important eclipse. Cartwright, Mark. In Aztec mythology, four eras have already gone by, each of them with a Sun God of its own. Perhaps the most well-known stone sculpture is the massive Aztec Sun Stone. Regardless, we know the stone was finished sometime before 1521, when the Spanish turned up and, well, kinda gave the locals something more to worry about than making mysterious giant stone sculptures. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. Many Aztec families and even villages were devoted to providing artwork for Aztec nobles. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. 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. It does include many glyphs used in the Aztec timekeeping system and may have something to do with either an important date or mapping out a certain era according to the Aztec idea of time. Monolith of Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Lord) Double-headed serpent . Human sacrifice was the most common type of sacrifice. The suppression campaign was super-successful: As an article archived from Mesoweb (in Spanish) notes, after the stone was buried in the mid-1500s, it was completely forgotten about for more than 200 years. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. You can see the Sun Stone on display at Mexico City's Museo Nacional de Antropologia, where it's been on display since 1964. Aztec masks were used as ornaments, and were sometimes worn as part of a ritual, or in death as a death mask. The Aztecs were the last of the great cultures of Mesoamerica before the European conquests. The Aztecs believed that every age, or cosmic era, had a different Sun God. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. p. 8. An example of this is the Sun Stone, in which Aztec mythological concept of the Five Suns is depicted in a circular pattern with remarkable symmetry. "Sun Stone." Often the term "Aztec" refers just to the people of Tenochtitlan. Legends say that Aztlan was the first place the Aztecs ever lived. We don't know exactly when it was carved, with some scholars, like those at, estimating a date in the late 1400s and others, like the folks at, placing its creation closer to 1512. Carved in the fifteenth century, this stone disc weighs 25 tons and is 12 feet across. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Thank you! The ritual cycle, or tonalpohualli, contained two smaller cycles, an ordered sequence of 20 named days and a sequence of days numbered from 1 to 13. Edge of Madness: A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Survival Thriller, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. They used all sorts of materials, including gold, silver, amethyst, wood, and stone. The Sun Stone would originally have been laid flat on the ground and possibly anointed with blood sacrifices. Over the centuries, scholars, writers, crackpot theorists, and the average Joe on the street have suggested that it might be anything from a calendar to a political statement. It was during the reign of the 6th Aztec monarch in 1479 that this stone was carved and dedicated to the principal Aztec deity: the sun. The Aztec Calendar Stone was carved from solidified lava in the late 15th century. Retrieved from It was at this peak of power that the Mexica, the ruling nation, created their greatest monuments — a series of massive pyramids, temples, sculptures, and other artifacts that included the Sun Stone. One of the most recognizable, but least understood, is the jaw-dropping Aztec Sun Stone. We know from firsthand accounts and from later analysis starting in the 1930s that the Sun Stone was originally painted in bright colors. Aztec Pyramids Aztec Pyramid The Aztecs were an ethnic group with a rich mythological and cultural heritage, who lived in the Mexican valley between the 12th and 16th century AD. Stretching from coast to coast in central and northern Mexico, the empire was huge and initially unruly, but it was eventually brought together by strong "high kings" in the central capital of Tenochtitlan, today's Mexico City. 990. The area around Tenochtitlan was occupied by other tribes that did not always welcome the Mexica. The Aztec calendar was amazingly sophisticated, much like that of the ancient Maya. The Aztec Sun Stone (also known as the Calendar Stone) is a representation... Around 1325 CE, southward migrating Mexicas or "Aztecs" came upon... National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. All of these added up to a 52-year cycle that was central to the Aztec religion. He was considered the sun god of the fifth and the final era. According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, the empire grew out of a series of wars between rival city-states starting in the 1100s, with three gaining dominance in the so-called Triple Alliance: Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. Aztec artists made their pyramid and other stone buildings into art too, by carving into them. It wasn't discovered again until 1790, when the massive main square of Mexico City was being redeveloped. Red paint on Aztec stone sculptures: God figures made of corn stalk paste: Did the Aztecs have coming-of-age rituals? The Aztec Sun Stone. Ancient History Encyclopedia. At the centre of the stone is a representation of either the sun god Tonatiuh (the Day Sun) or Yohualtonatiuh (the Night Sun) or the primordial earth monster Tlaltecuhtli, in the latter case representing the final destruction of the world when the 5th sun fell to earth. The Sun Stone is an incredibly complicated piece of iconography, using glyphs from the Aztec timekeeping system as well as depictions of gods and mythological events. Aztec craftsmen worked images of their gods into much of their artwork. Period observers like Diego Durán were certainly impressed — he wrote one of the earliest books on the Aztecs, The History of the Indies of New Spain, in which he mentions massive stone sculptures like (and probably including) the Sun Stone a few times. The stone would originally have been laid flat on the ground and possibly anointed with blood sacrifices. An extremely religious race, they believed extensively in the practice of human sacrifice. The circular front panel, which has a huge diameter of around 11.5ft, displays eight concentric circles, on which appear various symbols. It was found that a glyph in the central disk represented the name of the Aztec ruler, Moctezuma II, who ruled between 1502 and 1520. The stone — also called the Sun Stone or the Cuauhxicalli Eagle Bowl — went on display in the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral. Eagle Warrior (Mexica) ... Remembering the Toxcatl Massacre: The Beginning of the End of Aztec Supremacy. The Aztec Sun Stone (or Calendar Stone) depicts the five consecutive worlds of the sun from Aztec mythology.The stone is not, therefore, in any sense a functioning calendar, but rather it is an elaborately carved solar disk, which for the Aztecs and other … Given that conquistador Hernán Cortés turned up in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, and Moctezuma's successor surrendered on August 13, 1521, we can be pretty sure it was completed before 1519 ... assuming it was technically completed at all. At its height, as History tells us, the empire contained more than five million people, and Tenochtitlan alone was a bustling metropolis of over 140,000. The optical effect called schiller and the color in Oregon Sunstone is due to copper. Find out what other cool things the Aztecs created in this activity. But as long as we keep that stone covered in blood, it's all good. So long as the priests kept on anointing the stone with human blood, especially on that day, the gods would be appeased, and the world could keep on keepin' on. The pyramids housed temples, and religious sacrifices were made in front of the temples. Cycles of the sun, moon, and planets were hugely important to the Aztecs, and a big eclipse might have been linked to any number of sacrifices and rituals. It has a small mouth in either a neutral position or a slight smile, with full lips, and small fangs resting on the bottom lip. Like, thousands. Pyramids, winged serpents, stone basins meant to hold beating human hearts — the Aztec civilization produced some pretty dang impressive artifacts. The band running immediately around the suns is segmented into the 20 Aztec day-names (hence the Calendar Stone name). While researchers have established that the key date inscribed into the Sun Stone is 1479 C.E., it is believed that the stone was commissioned later by Moctezuma II, who didn't take the throne until 1502, per ThoughtCo. The impressive Stone of the Five Eras, has a diameter of 11.75 ft., 3.22 ft. deep and weighs 24 tons; but above all, it is a work of art, the epitome of the warrior cosmogony and dazzling civilization that occupied the Valley of Mexico. Aztec calendar, dating system based on the Mayan calendar and used in the Valley of Mexico before the destruction of the Aztec empire. Eventually, in 1885, it was moved to the first Museo Nacional — a process that ThoughtCo says took 15 days and cost 600 pesos to accomplish. Without it, the sun wouldn't rise. The Sun Stone was created by the Mexica people of northern and central Mexico, rulers of the vast Aztec Empire that thrived from around 1345 through 1521 C.E.. The suns are known by the day name on which their final destruction occurred. The rationale for Aztec human sacrifice was, first and foremost, a matter of survival. He is depicted with a sword-like tongue, holding a heart in each hand. Many things influenced the design and composition of Aztec art. The Sun Stone (The Calendar Stone) Coyolxauhqui Stone. As The History Blog notes, the stone developed a crack at some point and was eventually flipped upright into the position it was in when the first Spaniards in Tenochtitlan saw it. Eagle Warrior (Mexica) Mosaic mask of Tezcatlipoca . The Sun Stone contains all this and more. They usually represented one god or another, and the Aztecs did have many gods. From the first time Westerners laid eyes on the Sun Stone, they thought it was some sort of calendar, an idea that persists today. The richly carved basalt stone was once a part of the architectural complex of the Temple Mayor and measures 3.58 metres in diameter, is 98 centimetres thick, and weighs 25 tons. Some archaeologists think the Sun Stone was actually a political monument meant to mark a new emperor and forge a symbolic relationship between that ruler and the gods. When the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes arrived in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, he was astonished to discover that the city’s size dwarfed that of the cities in 16th century Europe. Huge stone sculptures were a popular type of art. On either side of the central face are two jaguar heads or paws, each clutching a heart, representing the terrestrial realm. Legends say that Aztlan was the first place the Aztecs ever lived. Their language, Nahuatl, is still spoken today in Mexico. The general form of the homes was simple, there was a main house and then typically there was a separate building for the steam bath. According to Aztec writings and religious artwork found at archeological sites, the Aztec pyramids were central to the civilization's religion. Aztec calendar, dating system based on the Mayan calendar and used in the Valley of Mexico before the destruction of the Aztec empire. Why no bears in Aztec mythology? Professor Michael Smith classifies these as: double-temple pyramids, single-temple pyramids, circular temples, ballcourts, shrines, and palaces. Cartwright, Mark. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. It was just bad luck or bad planning that four previous worlds had ended, as History Collection notes. Nun ist die Zeit gekommen alle Skulpturen zu finden und so die einzigartigen Schätze zu bergen. Even though Westerners have known about the stone since 1519, do we really understand what it was used for? The estimated population of the city at its largest varies from 150,000 to 250,000. If you want to know the real one, you can go to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The two heads at the bottom centre represent fire serpents, and their bodies run around the perimeter of the stone with each ending in a tail. The Aztec Sun Stone (also known as the Calendar Stone) is a representation of the five eras of the sun from Aztec mythology.The stone was part of the architectural complex of the Temple Mayor of Tenochtitlán and dates to c. 1427 CE. The most important figure in the stone is Tonatiuh, the sun god, located in the center. More recently, art historians like David Stuart have suggested that the stone was primarily a political monument celebrating the new emperor and wasn't meant for heavy-duty sacrifice at all, perhaps showing that the Aztecs were rethinking some of their practices. The Sun Stone (or The Calendar Stone), Aztec, reign of Moctezuma II (1502-20), discovered in 1790 at the southeastern edge of the Plaza Mayor (Zocalo) in Mexico City, stone (unfinished), 358 cm diameter x 98 cm depth (Museo Nacional de Antropología) Speakers: Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank and Dr. Beth Harris Most scholars think the stone originally lay flat on or near the Templo Mayor, and prominent archaeologists like Felipe Solis Olguin suspect that it was used as a sacrificial altar, with priests performing human sacrifices to mark major celestial events — like that 52-year cycle ending in 1479. Aztec Sun Stone is composed of a central disk and various rings followed by elaborate mechanism for the calculation of eras. After the Spaniards conquered Mexico, they brutally suppressed the Aztec religion. The middle part of this crystal sparkles, and usually the color is darkest in the middle and becomes lighter toward the outer edges. During the mid-to-late 19th century, one Stone Mask was excavated from an Aztec ruin by a team led by Will Anthonio Zeppeli's father. In 1792, Mexican scholar Antonio Leon y Gama published a book about the Sun Stone in which he claimed it was a massive sundial and suggested that it might also be used to track solstices, equinoxes, and other celestial events. The stone is not, therefore, in any sense a functioning calendar, but rather it is an elaborately carved solar disk, which for the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures represented rulership. The History Blog notes that the carvings seem to show four previous eras, placing the Sun Stone squarely at the start of the fifth, which the date 13 Reed marks as starting in 1479. Displayed near the equally monumental sculpture of snake-skirted goddess Coatlicue, the Sun Stone will make your jaw drop. Written by Mark Cartwright, published on 04 September 2013 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Did the Aztecs have a term for religion? He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE. Blood from victims would have "fed" the central sun god image, keeping the world running. Another theory holds that the Aztecs were refugees from ancient Sumeria who somehow made it to Mexico and started right in building step pyramids again. A lot of humans, according to most researchers, as Science magazine discusses. It was discovered on December 17th., 1790, when workers were levelling the central plaza (main square) of Mexico City. There's massive debate about that central face — the one clutching a bloody human heart. It is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica. The thing is, as scholar Susan Milbrath explains, the Aztecs may have fudged the calendar a bit to make sure that a potentially world-ending solar eclipse never actually occurred on 4 Ollin. One of the most famous images of Tonatiuh is that represented on the face of the stone of Axayacatl, the famous Aztec calendar stone, or more properly Sun Stone. Cite This Work Archaeologists in Mexico City have found the skeleton of a child at the foot of an ancient temple, believed to been sacrificed to the Aztec god of sun and war.. One thing is for sure: the pull of 25 tons of heavily carved, monster-laden stone makes an impression you'll never forget. They ruled the Aztec Empire from the 14th century to the 16th century. Aztec Calendar or Sun Stone was carved during the reign of the 6th Aztec monarch in 1479 and dedicated to the Aztec deity: the sun. That view was promoted by author Erich von Däniken in Astronaut Gods of the Maya. How did the Aztecs get their stones for building? The Florida Museum says that the Aztecs probably held a particularly huge sacrifice every 260 days, on the day 4 Ollin, to make sure the sun would rise the next day and the world wouldn't go the way of the previous four eras, ending in massive destruction. Science relates that the Templo Mayor, the most important Aztec temple, was built in five phases, with the last one corresponding to when we think the Sun Stone was carved. Jan Karel Donatus Van Beecq/Wikimedia Commons. Aztec Homes for regular people and commoners, who were mostly workers or macehualtin were scattered at the outskirts of the city. The conventional Stone Mask has the appearance of a somewhat-masculine face, its eye holes sharp and somewhat slanted. It displays the Aztec stone calendar. Have you seen their calendar before? Color historian Dr. Élodie Dupey García goes into detail on how the vibrant, impressive painting would have been done, and The History Blog says it would have shone with intense reds, blues, and yellows. The Aztec sacrifice rituals are a great topic of interest to Archaeologists, especially when one considers how in an empire of such magnificence, such acts of barbarism occurred. The Aztec calendar is the calendar system that was used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. 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. The ritual cycle, or tonalpohualli, contained two smaller cycles, an ordered sequence of 20 named days and a sequence of days numbered from 1 to 13. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 04 Sep 2013. Some of these designs made use of geometrical objects, symmetrically brought together in long lines. License. Facts about Aztec Calendar tell you about the Aztec Sun Stone calendar. The Aztecs were Native American people who lived in Mesoamerica. Aztec priests and leaders researched movements of the sun and planets in the sky. Please support Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation. Books Painting Aztec History. It was a massive carving, 3 feet thick, almost 12 feet across, and weighing almost 25 tones (22.5 tonnes).
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