Friday, April 11, 2008

Verso IV

Aztec Sun Stone, late-1400s

'The Aztec Sun Stone (Piedra del Sol) is in Room 7 (Sala Mexica) of the museum. The 12-foot, 25-ton intricately carved basalt slab describing Aztec life is one of Mexico's most famous symbols. The stone was carved in the late 1400s; it was discovered buried beneath the Zócalo in 1790. It was originally thought to be a calendar, and for a brief time, a sacrificial altar.

In the stone's center is the sun god Tonatiuh. The rest of the carvings illustrate Aztec cosmology - the Aztecs believed that prior to their existence, the world had gone through four periods ("suns") of creation and destruction. Four square panels surrounding the center image represent these four worlds and their destruction (by jaguars, wind, firestorms, and water, respectively). The ring around the panels is filled with symbols representing the 20 days of the Aztec month. Finally, two snakes form an outer ring and point to a date, 1011 AD, when the fifth sun (the Aztecs' current world) was created.'

National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City