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7 Forgotten Wonders of the World -> The Aztec Temple

The Aztec Temple

After the Mexicans (Aztecs) established themselves on the island of Tenoch, they were not able to build a temple worthy of HUITZILOPOCHTLI. At the begining, because of the lack of rock, they built it with sticks and hay.

Then in the times of CHIMALPOPOCA they had access to rocks, but it was not until the reign of TIZOC that the temple aquired that vision of magnificence that HUITZILOPOCHTLI paints, on the bases that MOCTEZUMA protected. Finally, the next Great Speaker AHUIZOTL, finishes and inagurates the temple in the year of 1487.

Aztec Templo Mayor (greater temple)

After the temple is finished, AHUIZOTL shared with the allied speakers and to all the nobility of these kingdoms. Even though the number of visitors and the number of sacrificed people are exagerated, there is no doubt this was the most lucid event in the history of the Aztecs.

The celebrations lasted four days, in which time all the prisoners that had been captured in four years of wars (according to the Aztecs, four towns were sacrificed) were sacrificed at the top of the temple. The prisoners were made to stand in lines to wait for their death. So many were the persons sacrificed that the people could not eat all the flesh that they were given.

The Greater Temple of the Aztecs or HUEY TEOCALLI is without a doubt one of the greatest treasures lost forever. There is nothing left standing of what the temple was; except for a few ruins, that tell us little or nothing about its greatness.

How was this arqueological jewel in reality? There are several writings that the Spaniard conquerors left us. We have to thank that it was a custom among the conquerors to bring a writer who would describe all of their findings.

As described by Bernal de Diaz:
"...we left the great plaza without seeing it anymore and we got to the large patios and fences where the great CU (TEOCALLI) is; and there was a great circuit of patios, before getting there that seemed to be more numerous than in the plaza o Salamanca, and with two fences around it, whitewashed, and the patio and all the area around it was dappled with large white polished stones, and where there were no stones everything was whitewashed and polished in such a way that none of us found a stick nor dust on it at all. And since we came near the great CU, before we climbed a step, the great Moctezuma from up there, where they were making sacrifices, six PAPAS and two PRINCIPALES (priests) to accompany our captain, and in the process of climbing the steps, 114 in total, they were going to hold him by the arms, thinking he would get tired, just as they helped their lord Moctezuma, but Cortes did not want them to aproach him.[...]And then he took him by the hand (Moctezuma) and told him to look at his great city and all the other cities that were on the water, and many other towns that were around the same lake, on the land; and that if we had not seen his great plaza, that from up here he could see very well, and like that we stood looking, because from that big and damned temple that was so tall that he could brag everything quite well..."

We have, in the same manner, Fray Bernardo de Sahagún's writings. He with great patience sat with his informants and allowed them to draw what they were narrating. Then they described what they had drawn. In contrast to Bernal's description (the description of the typical tourist who goes about explaining what he sees, without the description of the one who knows).

According to Sahagún, in his second book, there were 78 buildings related to the TEMPLO MAYOR, with 25 piramids, 5 speaking halls, the house of fasting, four QUAUHXICALLI (bowls to place the hearts of the sacrificed people), a TECCALCO (steped temple), 7 TZOMPANTLI (structures on which the skulls of the sacrificed were displayed), 2 TLACHTLI (fields for the ball game), a well and three bathrooms, two NETLATILOYAN (basements where the skins of the sacrificed people were kept), a building for the dances, nine priest houses , jails for the gods of the conquered people, arsenals, shops and other more.

In another of Sahagún's manuscript, (in the Library of the Madrid Palace ), that had not been translated with the other writings, 15 arquitectural structures are numbered, under the title of: IN TLEIN ITOTOCA CATCA ICECECNI TLACATECOLOCALCO, or, THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE HOUSES OF THE DIVERSE WIZARDS, that were identified on the drawing next to the writing, according to the letters that appear there.

 

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