The Aztecs Templo Mayor
Dr Carlos Javier González, 3 July 2014
Adrienne: Welcome everyone to this evening's lecture which is co‑hosted by the University of Melbourne and Museum Victoria as part of the Aztec Exhibition, which features over 200 cultural treasures from Mexico's major museums.
Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather this evening, the people of the Kulin Nation and pay tribute to the elders past and present.
In this series of specialist lectures showcasing both here at Melbourne Museum, as well as the City of Melbourne, to the end of July, the University of Melbourne and Museum Victoria, two of our most iconic and important educational and cultural institutions, have combined their expertise and experience to provide a background to the Aztecs exhibition.
Tonight's lecture will be presented by international guest speaker, Dr. Carlos González. Dr. González has been flown out from Mexico by the Mexican Embassy of Australia especially for this event. Dr. Carlos Javier González has been the director of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City since 2007.
He's an archaeologist who graduated from the National School of Anthropology and History. He has been a Templo Mayor Project member since 1979 and research professor at the National Institute of Anthropology and History since 1982. Between 1989 and 1992, Dr. González coordinated the Chinampas Archaeological Project carried out in the region of Xochimilco.
In April 2006, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Mesoamerican Studies with honors. His thesis has since been published as "Xipe Totec: War and regeneration of maize in the Mexican religion," which was co‑edited by INAH, whom he is the director of the Templo Mayor, and the Economic Cultural Fund.
Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Dr. Carlos González to the stage.
Dr. Carlos Javier González: Thank you, Adrienne. I'm very glad to be here again. Maybe some of you were last Tuesday at the other lecture on the Aztecs.
We are going to speak a little bit about the Great Temple, the Templo Mayor, of the Aztecs that was the main building in the city of Tenochtitlan; and mainly of how it was pictured by the historical sources in the 16th century, the colonial period in Mexico, in the new Spain. After that, how it was discovered for the first time and also, some aspects of the recent excavations that have taken place in the core of Mexico City.
We begin with this image of the so‑called Cortés Map of Tenochtitlan. Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conqueror, arrived at Tenochtitlan on November 1519, the 8th of November, to be precise. He sent the original version of this map to the Emperor Charles V in the year 1520, with his two first letters of relation about the conquest of Mexico.
We don't know the original version of this map, the one that was sent by Cortés to Charles V, but this is the version that was published in Nuremberg, Germany in 1524. Most probably, the original version was ordered by Cortés to some of his soldiers, probably with knowledge of topography and cartography.
But it can not be discarded that the original author may be an Indian, an Aztec himself. We probably will never know, because the original version has been lost or it is lost, I hope not forever. But, at the most probable, it will never be found.
This is a recreation made in Germany in 1524 for the purpose of publishing it. That may explain some mistakes in the map. On the left, we see a more wide view of the map. As you can see, Tenochtitlan is pictured as an island, as it was. But, if you see the details, the buildings are made in European fashion because, I repeat, this is an European version, finally, of the original map sent by Cortés to Charles V.
Now the north‑east on the opposite part of the image, as is the case in the European cartography. But, in fact, this square in the right, you see the detail of the central square of the city. As you see, this is the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan, this great plaza on which, according to the work of friar Bernardino de Sahagún, this 16th century Franciscan friar, there were more than 70 buildings. There were 78 buildings inside the ceremonial precinct.
In this map, some of these buildings are represented, among them, the Templo Mayor. This could be the Templo Mayor, the biggest of the buildings inside the Sacred Precinct. As you can see, it has two towers in it. That remarks one of the main characteristics of the Templo Mayor, of the Great Temple.
It was a double temple with a double stairway on the facade of the building because it was dedicated to two gods. Most of the temples in pre‑Hispanic Mexico, in Mesoamerica, had only one chapel or temple on the top of them, and then they only have one single stairway in the facade. But in the Templo Mayor, we will see it had a double stairway because it had two chapels on the top of it.
Here, we see the Templo Mayor represented, but facing to the east. That's the main mistake of this map because, as we will see, the Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of the Aztecs, was facing to the west, as other historical sources tell us and as the archaeological data has now proved that it was facing to the west.
To the south of the ceremonial precinct, to mark some more details on the map, here you can see this smaller square with the legend "Plaza" on it. It corresponds to the actual main square of Mexico City, the so‑called Zócalo of Mexico City.
Going back to the so‑called Cortés Map of Tenochtitlan, this would be the first drawing of Tenochtitlan and of the Mayor Temple done by an European. This will be the first view of Templo Mayor and of Tenochtitlan of an European.
This is another drawing of the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan. On the contrary, this was surely made by an Indian educated by the Franciscan friars, probably around 1540‑1545. Although it had some European influence, the drawing mainly is a drawing with an Indian character.
Here, just a few buildings are represented, just a few from these more than 70 buildings that were inside the precinct according, as I told you, to the same Bernardino de Sahagún. Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan friar that arrived at the New Spain in 1528, that is some seven or eight years after the conquest was consumed.
He made extremely valuable work for archaeologists, for historians, called the "General History of the Things of the New Spain." He did this work helped by many Indian informers that had been educated in the Colegio de la Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco founded also by the Franciscan friars.
In this drawing, just a few buildings are represented, of the Sacred Precinct. We see, among them, the Ballgame Court over here, in the shape of the letter "I" of the alphabet.
This building, on the left side, is the Calmecac that was a school for the sons of the noble class of the Aztecs, inside the Sacred Precinct. We see, over here, the temple dedicated to the God Xipe Totec, which is the god I studied in my PhD dissertation by the way, and this altar with a round stone of sacrifice.
In this round stone of sacrifice, took place the main ceremonial sacrifice, dedicated to this god, to the God Xipe Totec, but I'm not going to speak about that now.
I'm going to speak about the Templo Mayor that is just almost in the center of the drawing. It's this double temple that represented the blood of human sacrifice that took place in both the chapels of Templo Mayor.
More on the chapel that is to the right, that is to say, to the South, because that was the chapel dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the main god of the Aztecs, a god of war related also with the Sun. For the most part, the human sacrifices that took place in the Templo Mayor were done in front of the Temple of Huitzilopochtli.
I want to remark the main characteristic of the Great Temple, it was a double temple with a double staircase, on the front facade, and two chapels on the front.
This is a recreation of the Sacred Precinct made by architect Ignacio Marquina, in the 20th century. It gives an idea of the splendor of the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan. Again, we see on the left side, the building, of course, that is the Templo Mayor facing West, and again the main characteristics, a double stairway on the front facade.
We see in the first plain, again, this altar with the round stone of sacrifice and the ceremony dedicated to the God Xipe Totec that was called the "Gladiatorial Sacrifice," by the historical sources by the Spanish Friars that wrote in the 16th century.
A detail I would like to mention to you is that in this recreation made by architect Marquina, the Sacred Precinct is limited, as you can see, by a vertical wall with almonds on the top part of it. This must be discarded. In the excavations that we made, between 1978 and 1982, we found a portion of the limit of the Ceremonial Precinct and it was, in fact, an extended platform with stairways to the inside and to the outside of the ceremonial precinct.
It was not, in reality, a vertical wall as architect Marquina imagined. He made this recreation around 1950s, that is to say some 40 years before this platform that limited the Ceremonial Precinct was found by the excavations between 1978 and 1982.
These two illustrations pretend to show the way in which, in the Colonial period, the Templo Mayor and...I have to tell you when the Spanish built their city, the colonial city, they covered the pre‑Hispanic city.
The Templo Mayor and all the buildings that were inside the ceremonial precinct were completely covered by the Spanish city. So, they disappeared, not from history, but from the sight of people. They were completely obliterated by the Spanish city.
Then, in the Colonial period, there were many recreations of the Templo Mayor that were, in fact, fantasy recreations. As you can see in these two examples of the work by Francisco Xavier Clavijero, a Jesuit priest born in New Spain, we consider him Mexican although Mexico did not exist yet as a nation.
It was until after the Independence War, in 1821, when we can say that Mexico began its existence as a nation. Clavijero lived in the 18th century, but he wrote an important work. It was called "Historia Antigua de México," old history of New Spain.
In that work, he presents these two recreations of the Templo Mayor, but for the most part they are fantasy recreations. You can see, for example, both of them are made much in the European way of architecture.
In the one on the right, you see the stairs of the building that do not correspond, absolutely, to reality. The chapels on the top were made much in the style of the Near East of the Arab Architecture.
This is a map of the main square of Mexico City, around the year 1566. Here, I want to remark, again we have the North on the top part of the image. This building, over here, is the first cathedral that was built by the Spanish.
It was built around the year 1530, between the years 1530 and 1535. It was a much smaller cathedral than the modern Cathedral of Mexico City.
The facade of this cathedral was facing West, that is to the left of the image. The back side of the cathedral was facing East, that is to the right of the image, as was the case with most of the Medieval Cathedrals in Europe, facing the Holy Land.
Over here, that square has the legend, it says something like the foundations of the new cathedral. In that year, 1566, the new cathedral was beginning to be built. Also, I want to remark that in this part, almost out of the image, there is a legend that says Alonso de Ávila.
That is to say and to mark that in that corner, in this house over here, there was the house of the conqueror Alonso de Ávila, one of the conquerors that arrived with Cortés.
That is important because, according to many data on historical sources of the 16th century, they say that the Templo Mayor, the main building of the Aztecs, lay beneath where the house of Alonso de Ávila had been built, or the house of this conqueror has been built.
This corner, over here, corresponds to the modern streets of Guatemala that run from East to West. Over here is Seminario Street that runs from South to North. Guatemala Street is this and Seminario Street is this one.
Of course these were not the names of the streets at the time this map was made. This is going to be very important, when I explain how the Templo Mayor was discovered for the first time.
South to the cathedral you see the great square that corresponds to the modern Zócalo of Mexico City. This is a painting of the cathedral made by the artist Carl Nebel in the 19th century. Of course, it's the same cathedral that you can see today in Mexico City.
We will return, briefly, to the last image. I want to show you that the first cathedral that was much smaller was built in this area, in front of the modern cathedral and to the West of the atrium of the modern cathedral.
If we return, that corresponds to the area of the first building, this one, and the modern cathedral will occupy this area, over here. In fact, not even the first cathedral, neither the modern cathedral were built above the Temple Mayor.
In many cases, the Spanish conquerors built their Christian churches above the pre‑Hispanic temples. That was not the case in Tenochtitlan. In fact, the cathedrals, both the old and the new one, were constructed above the religious space of the Aztecs. In fact, that practice of the Spanish conquerors was applied because both cathedrals were built above the sacred space of the Aztecs, but not directly above the Templo Mayor.
This is, of course, a painting, a recreation, of the island of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco, the two cities made by the Aztecs, in the center of the Basin of Mexico and it has many details. I want to remark two of them.
This great causeway over here that goes to the South of the island, the North would be in this direction, is the causeway of Iztapalapa, one of the main causeways that connected the island of Tenochtitlan with the mainland.
The other detail is this causeway, over here, that goes to the West and is called Calzada, the causeway of Tlacopan or Tacuba. Those were the two main causeways that connected the island with the mainland.
We are going to see how, in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the Mexican historian, Alfredo Chavero, and the British archeologist, Alfred Maudslay concluded that the Templo Mayor must be found where these two causeways crossed.
That would be the point, where the Templo Mayor must have been ubicated, because the Ceremonial Precinct of the City of Tenochtitlan was the heart of the city and also because, according to the Aztec religious point of view, the Templo Mayor was the center of the Universe.
Alfred Maudslay presented the work at the International Congress of Americanists, in the year 1912, and he made this hypothetical map of location of the Templo Mayor.
Here, you can see the main square, Zócalo, of Mexico City, the cathedral, the street of Seminario. If you continue virtually the line of the Iztapalapa causeway, you arrive to the street of Seminario.
In the other way, if you continue virtually the line of the Tlacopan or Tacuba causeway, you arrive at the Retreat of Guatemala. The virtual crossing of those two causeways would be precisely the corner of Seminario and Guatemala Streets, where, as I showed you a few moments ago, the house of the conqueror Alonso de Ávila was placed. These were the references of the location of the Templo Mayor.
On the right, you will see the hypothetical location of Templo Mayor made by Alfred Maudslay and presented in his work. Of course, it doesn't correspond precisely to the size of the Templo Mayor. He imagined it bigger that it is in reality.
In the year 1913, the archaeologist Manuel Gamio, the father of modern archaeology in Mexico, was the first one to make stratigraphic diggings, excavations, in Mexico. He was a pupil of Franz Boas, the great German anthropologist. He studied archaeology and anthropology at Columbia University in New York.
In the year 1913, he was made inspector of monuments in Mexico City. He's very important, also, because in September of 1913 a house was demolished just in an area, in a terrain, located in the corner of streets of Seminario and Guatemala.
Manuel Gamio, who was the inspector of monuments, took notice of that and, since that moment, he became aware of what would appear, when they made the excavation for the foundation of the new house that was planned to be built in that terrain.
Since September, 1913, he was looking every moment for what would appear in this terrain. The terrain, where the house was demolished in 1913, was located precisely on this corner, over here. In the corner of Seminario and Guatemala.
In May, 1914, a hundred years ago, the pre‑Hispanic remains of a great building began to appear in the excavation for the foundations of this new house, just in that corner. You can see street of Guatemala, over here, this is street of Seminario.
This photograph must have been taken in the year 1915 when the excavations had already advanced. Here, you can see these walls of the pre‑Hispanic building, decorated with serpent heads of stone, and different stages of the construction of the building.
What Gamio was finding, in fact, was the southwest corner of the Templo Mayor. He noticed several facts in the buildings. He knew these facts that the historical sources said about the location of the Templo Mayor beneath the house of the conqueror Alonso de Ávila, in this area. He concluded, definitely, that he had found a portion of the Templo Mayor.
This is another angle of the excavations taken from the West. To the left,is street of Guatemala. You can see, over here, the southwest corner of the structure of the building. Gamio also noticed that the construction continued for a long way to the East of the area that was being excavated. He noticed, it was very obvious, the size and the importance of the building.
This photograph was taken in 1934, i.e., 10 years after the finding of Templo Mayor took place. We see again, it's taken from the East side, street of Seminario and street of Guatemala to the right. We can see how this small archaeological zone came to be in that area.
In fact, the new house that was planned to be constructed in that terrain was never constructed. It remained as a small archaeological zone. Later on, a small museum was constructed in the area, a model of the Ceremonial Precinct made by the architect Ignacio Marquina was also placed in this. The house was never built and it remained an archaeological zone, until 1978 when the new excavations began.
I'm going to speak in a few moments about that to you. This is a photograph of Manuel Gamio, on the left, with another two persons, not identified. They are seated, as you can see, in one great serpent head that Gamio found as part of the remains. That serpent head was one of the facts that made him conclude that he had found the Templo Mayor of the Aztecs.
Of course, you can notice how elegant the archaeologists of that time dressed to work. If I take a photograph of myself seated in a serpent head as Gamio is, I will be punished for that. It was another epoch.
This is an aerial view of the center of Mexico City. There are many details I would like to mention to you. Of course, the great cathedral over here, the Zócalo, the Palazio National, the seat of the President of Mexico, Moneda Street, and this is street of Seminario.
Street of Seminario and over here, street of Pino Suarez. The continuation of these streets of Seminario and Pino Suarez was the Iztapalapa causeway. As I told you, it was one of the points of Alfred Maudslay's theory about the location of the Templo Mayor.
Over here, street of Guatemala that runs in the back of the cathedral. Over here, the terrain, the excavation of Gamio. This photo was taken around the year 1913, so you can see here the area that was excavated by Gamio, in that year, and the remains of the Templo Mayor he found in that year.
This is a photograph of the Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of Tlatelolco, the other Aztec city that was built to the north of Tenochtitlan. I'm going to show you pre‑construction, in a few moments, of the island, but mainly to show you that the global Templo Mayor, the great temple of Tlatelolco had the same characteristics as the great temple of Tenochtitlan, the double stairway on the front facede.
The double stairway, divided by this element here. You can see the stairway on the north of the building, and this one on the south part of the building. Because the Templo Mayor of Tlatelolco, of course, was also facing to the West, the front facade.
The Templo Mayor of Tlatelolco was discovered before, it was discovered in the 1940s. Later on, in the 1960s, new excavations took place and discovered the Templo Mayor and great parts of the ceremonial precinct of Tlatelolco. So, that was discovered, at least in a great part, many years before the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan.
This is a map, a reconstruction of the island that was occupied by Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco. Both cities, as I have told you, were built by the Aztecs. You can see over here in yellow color, the area occupied by Tlatelolco in the North of the island. And on a more clear color, the area occupied by Tenochtitlan.
Here, the ceremonial precinct of Tenochtitlan, with the Templo Mayor and over here, the ceremonial precinct of Tlatelolco with it's own Templo Mayor. This is an aerial view of the Tlatelolco archaeological zone, where you can see over here the Templo Mayor with its double stairway and different stages of construction of the same building.
As you can see, the back of the ceremonial precinct of Tlatelolco have been uncovered by excavations. Also, this is the church of Santiago Tlatelolco. Well, this is not the 16th century church, but the original church was built right in that place by the Spanish conquerors, and the first Spanish friars.
Of course, the conquest of Mexico was made in the name of Santiago. Santiago, Saint James, the main patron saint of Spain, as you probably know. But that is to show you, again, the practice of the Spaniards to build their churches above the sacred spaces of the Indians, of the pre‑Spanish Indians. We arrive to the year 1978, the small archaeological zone discovered by Manuel Gamio, as I told you remained an archaeological zone with a small museum until the year 1978.
What occurred in the year 1978? Well, this great round sculpture, it measures 3 metres and 25 centimetres in diameter, was found. This lady was found because it represents this culture, it represents Coyolxauhqui, who was according to Aztech mythology, the sister of, Huitzilopochtli, the main gods of the Aztecs.
And Coyolxauhqui was killed by Huitzilopochtli in a mythical battle, because Coyolxauhqui pretended to kill the mother of both of them, Coatlicue. So, Huitzilopochtli, defending his mother, battled Coyolxauhqui and killed her, cut off her head and threw it down the mountain where this mythical battle took place. And the body of Coyolxauhqui got dismembered, according to the myth.
So, in this culture, Coyolxauhqui is represented dismembered. As you can see, her legs, her arms and her head are separated from her body. And she is dressed as a warrior. She has eagle feathers in her hair, and that is part of a dress of a warrior. She is dressed as a warrior because she died; she was killed as a warrior.
This sculpture was found in February of 1978, and the importance of this finding produced the great excavation of Templo Mayor began in this year. It was for four years, we excavated, and I say we because I had the privilege of working this excavation. And in those four years, we recovered for the most part a complete Templo Mayor and some other buildings that were near Templo Mayor, and inside the ceremonial precinct of Tenochtitlan.
Also, the name of Coyolxauhqui in Aztec language can be translated as "her face is decorated with rattles." And that is another fact that can be seen in the sculpture. Over here, on one of her cheeks, the only one that can be seen on the sculpture, there is a representation of a rattle as an adornment on her cheek.
This is another sculpture, a great sculpture made of diorite that was found in the year 1829, many years before, and in the surrounding area of the Templo Mayor. That represents also Coyolxauhqui, this same goddess. And as you can see, here we could see both of her cheeks, and in both of them she has these representations of a rattle.
Over here, in the low part, there is the representation of a rattle in each one of her cheeks. And she is also, of course she is dead. Her eyes are closed, and this is only her head, because as I told you, according to the myth Huitzilopochtli cut off her head in battle before throwing her head down the mountain, the Coatepec Mountain where the battle took place.
But the important thing is that the sculpture, and many other sculptures, important sculptures of the Aztecs, like the calendar in stone, for example, or the sculpture of the goddess Coyolxauhqui that is on the Museo Nacional de Antropologí over here. All of the very important sculptures of the Aztecs have been found removed from their original places.
We will probably not know, ever, where they were placed by the Aztecs. In contrast, the round sculpture of Coyolxauhqui was found in the original place where the Aztecs had her, and that is very important, as we will see. In this photograph, taken when the excavations had been finished, the excavations between 1978 and 1982.
Here you can see, in fact this is a replica of the Coyolxauhqui over here. Over here, this is a replica, because the original sculpture is inside the Templo Mayor museum, since the year 1987 when the museum opened its doors. This is a replica, but the replica obviously is placed just in the site where the original sculpture was found.
And you will see more clearly in a few moments that she is placed in a great platform of the Templo Mayor. The area is the great, low platform of the building. And this over here, these are just the first three steps of the front facade stairways. These two serpent heads mark the separation between the North stairway and the South stairway of the front facade of Templo Mayor.
The South stairway was the stairway of the temple of Huitzilopochtli, who according to the myth, as I told you, killed Coyolxauhqui in this mythical battle. These in the back are stages of construction of the same building, but the precedent stages of construction because Templo Mayor was rebuilt in several times, but always in the same place because it could not be moved because from a symbolic point of view, it represented, as I told you before, the center of the universe for the Aztecs.
So, moving it would have brought chaos to the world. This is a model to show you mainly two things. The model is open to show the different stages of construction of the building. You can see how the building was built several times, but always in the same place. And each time, of course, they made it bigger.
Here is the round sculpture of Coyolxauhqui, just at the feet of the South stairway of Templo Mayor, the stairway of the temple of Huitzilopochtli. So in this way, in the Templo Mayor, Huitzilopochtli was on top of the building in his chapel, victorious, and Coyolxauhqui was in the low part, defeated and dismembered. And this is the platform, and the floor of the ceremonial precinct of Tenochtitlan.
The other stairway is the stairway of the temple of the god Tlaloc, of the rain. Now we go back to the same photograph, to show you again the location of the sculpture of Coyolxauhqui, just at the feet of the stairway of the temple of Huitzilopochtli and the platform, so you can understand a little better these characteristics of the building.
An aerial view of the area excavated between 1982 with the Coyolxauhqui over here, and the different stages of construction of the building. The facade that faces to the West, this over here is the area found by Manuel in 1940, just a small portion of the building. So between 1978 and 1982, we excavated the rest of the area, and other buildings that were near Templo Mayor and inside the ceremonial precinct.
This is a photograph during those excavations, and in those excavations many offerings were found, many offerings that the Aztecs placed in the buildings, and with many objects in them. We recovered more than 7,000 objects in the excavations, and that is the main reason why the Templo Mayor museum was built, to show, to preserve those more than 7,000 objects.
In this photograph is Professor Eduardo Matos, who is the coordinator of those excavations, the famous Mexican archaeologist. And this one, with the stone mask in his hands, believe it or not, it's me many years ago. I have hair, as you can see. Those were really good days, I always assumed ‑ you can imagine ‑ I always like to remember those days, it was a very exciting four years, four unforgettable years for all of us.
In the year 2006, in that year, in October, another great finding took place. This great sculpture, it represents the mother Earth. It's called Tlaltecuhtli, which means the lord or the lady of the Earth. It was found on October of 2006, and now is also inside the Templo Mayor museum.
It was also found in the original place where the Aztecs had it. Again, I use the model to show you the place where this great sculpture, it was more or less in this area over here. Over the floor of the sacred precinct, just at the feet of the red temple and a little bit to the North, that is to say to the side of Tlaloc, the god of rain. This is a photograph of the sculpture, taken just in the day when it was placed inside the museum.
It is there since the year 2010, and this photo was taken...I am at the middle, at the center of two of the main workers that participated in the installation of the sculpture. By the way, these photographs, I suppose I have to presume that it was taken by one photographer of the National Geographic magazine.
It was never published in the magazine, but it was taken by a photographer of the National Geographic magazine. This is a sculpture, and it is the biggest Aztec sculpture yet recovered. Another important thing, I'm going to go back to the president photo. You see the colors of the sculpture? This is very important, because the Aztec sculptures were painted by them.
This is surely the only case, until now, in that the colors had been preserved because of the very well restoration work that was made, of course, by the personnel of the restoration of the Templo Mayor museum, but that is the reason why we can admire the sculpture with its original colors.
And here, roughly it represents a monster of the earth, but a female monster. This deity, Tlaltecuhtli, the lord or lady of the Earth, could be represented as a male or female. In this case, it is a female, and she is in the posture of giving birth. The natural posture, the Indian posture of giving birth. And some remarkable characteristics of her is she has curly hair. That was a symbol of fearness by the Aztecs.
The beauty was represented by the hair, pelo liso in the Spanish. I don't know the word in English...straight hair. And curly hair was a symbol of fearness, because the hair, although it gave life and birth to life, it was also feared by the Aztecs because she could eat, and in fact she eats life, also. And she could bring death, also, for mankind.
Another important detail is these are the paper flax that are inserted in her hair, and those are symbols of sacrifice. Because we have to remember that according to the Aztec religion, the world was created because of the sacrifice of the gods. Because the gods sacrificed themselves to create the world, and that is why human sacrifice for the Aztecs was a way of paying to the gods their own sacrifice.
And the Earth is represented with this paper flax in her hair, to represent the original sacrifice of these gods. But she has also, in this part, this is blood. This is blood that is getting into her mouth, into her tongue. And that is to represent that the Earth and the Sun, the female and the male aspects of the universe had to be fed with blood.
With blood give them life, and to make life continue. Blood obtained through war, and through human sacrifice, and also through self sacrifice because offering my blood was a way also of paying to the gods their own sacrifice. More recent findings around the area of Templo Mayor, of the great temple.
In the year 2010, it was found the temple of Quetzalcoatl, the god of the wind. You can see it in these photographs, it was found in the terrain near the Templo Mayor. I'll show you the location in a few moments. But you can see here that this is one corner of the building, and how this is the back part of the building.
And how it was, in part, a circular building over here. And this is a reconstruction made, as you can see, this is the back part of the temple of Quetzalcoatl and it was round, in part. Not completely round, but it was round in part, just as it was found in the year 2010. This is a drawing of the ceremonial precinct, made also by architect Ignacio Martina.
And here you can see the street of Guatemala, and the Templo Mayor over here. Excavations were not made yet when Martina made this drawing of the Templo Mayor. It has some mistakes that would have to be arranged, but here is to show you the hypothetical location Martina gave to the temple of Quetzalcoatl over here.
In fact it was found very near this spot, just a little bit to the West, more or less where the arrow is, in this moment. But it was found in this direction of the Templo Mayor, to the West of the Templo Mayor, and in a very close location, as it was believed. This is another, smaller temple that was found also in the year 2010, 2011, and this is a round building decorated with serpent heads, as you can see its walls.
And Bernardino de Sahagún speaks something about this temple, and that was located very near the great temple, the Templo Mayor. And is the temple called Tlatelolco, and it means place of the offering base. We have references that certain ceremonies were made in the feast of Huitzilopochtli in this building.
This is another view to the right and another photograph of this building, of the Cuauhxicalco, and a drawing that shows the location of this building. The photograph was taken from this point, where the arrow is in this moment, and to this direction.
This is the stairway of the platform of the Templo Mayor. That is a reference that we can use to describe the location of the building just in front of the Templo Mayor and in front of the south part of the Templo Mayor, that is the site of Huitzilopochtli.
In this area, a floor of the ceremonial precinct with strong reliefs on it was found also in these same excavations. Here you can see some photographs. The Cuauhxicalco building would be more or less over here. All this area was found. This is the floor of the ceremonial precinct.
Several reliefs in the shape of serpents and others like this one were found. This is a paper adornment related with sacrifice and with the god Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the death. Over here, you can see some reliefs of this floor.
This area was probably related with the sacrifice of enemy warriors. The enemy warriors that were going to be sacrificed in the Templo Mayor in front of the temple of Huitzilopochtli were surely walked in this area, as part of the ceremony of sacrifice.
To end with this lecture, I want to show you one of the most recent findings. This took place a few months ago beneath the street called Argentina, which is the prolongation of the street of Seminario. While some works were being made by the government of the city, suddenly pre‑Hispanic structures began to appear.
Now, what is amazing here, you can see the man standing in the modern street level of the city. You can see how high or how close to the street level are in this area the pre‑Hispanic remains of the city. It is really amazing. You can see this is the corner of a building that has these stones inserted in the walls.
We don't know precisely what building it would be or to what god it was dedicated, but it was surely an important building of the ceremonial precinct. This is a detail of the construction. I personally took a measure from this point, the highest point of the pre‑Hispanic structure, to the street level. It was 90 centimetres, not even a metre. It is really amazing.
Again, the drawing of architect Marquina of the ceremonial precinct to show you that those most recent findings have taken place just in this point. This is the Argentina Street to the north of Templo Mayor. That building was located just in this point and to the east just in this area. Those are the most recent findings in Mexico City.
My gratitude for all of you for your invitation, also to the Mexican Embassy, of course, and to you for being here today. Thank you very much.
Dr Robin Hirst: Thank you. We wish Dr. González a safe trip back to Mexico. We'll all come and visit you.