The Seventh Field Season of the Proyecto Templo Mayor: Recent Investigations on the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

The fortuitous discovery of the Tlaltecuhtli Earth Goddess monolith in 2006 generated new investigations in the ruins of Tenochtitlan's sacred precinct. Since March 2007, an interdisciplinary and international team organized by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia has carried out topographic studies, geophysical prospection, microchemical analysis, and archaeological excavation in Mexico City's historic center. These activities have produced new data regarding the precinct's urban planning, the architectural and functional evolution of its religious structures, and the symbolism and economy of Mexica rituals carried out at the foot of the Templo Mayor in the decades prior to Spanish Conquest.

Other Keywords
OfferingsMexicasymbolismTenochtitlanTemplo MayorsunAztecPaleopathologyEffigyMonument

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  • Documents (14)

  • Animal captivity in Tenochtitlan’s sacred precinct: Specialized diet and paleopathological analysis of golden eagles found in Offering 125 (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Israel Elizalde Mendez. Salvador Figueroa Morales. Ximena Chávez Balderas.

    After the discovery of the Tlaltecuhtli (earth goddess) monolith, the Templo Mayor Project explored an area known as the Mayorazgo de Nava Chávez, located at the foot of the Great Temple. Offering 125 was discovered west of the monolith and was deposited during the reign of Ahuitzotl (1486–1502 CE). Along with thousands of ritual items, two golden eagle skeletons were buried in this deposit. Commingled bones corresponding to at least three quail were found inside the keel of one of the eagles....

  • Botanical analysis of sediments in offerings and fill at Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Aurora Montúfar López. Julia Pérez Pérez.

    In this paper, botanical remains in sedimentological samples from offerings and fill are analyzed for biological identification. Seeds, fibers, resins, and other vegetal structures recovered using Struever’s floatation technique, modified by members of the Paleobotanical and Paleoenvironmental Laboratory, in the Institute of Anthropological Research (IIA), at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), yielded propagules, charred bits of textiles, copal, thorn fragments, splinters, and...

  • Feather headdresses among the offerings at Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Martha Soto.

    The excavations conducted during the seventh field season of the Templo Mayor Project have uncovered a large quantity of organic matter, thus the conservation team has dedicated a large part of their efforts to the treatment of these rare materials. During the cleaning of these materials, feathers associated with heron bones were identified. In a level below them were found more remains of feathers belonging to the headdresses of Tlaloc masks. The degree of their deterioration required us to...

  • Graphic documentation of the mural painting in the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michelle Marlene De Anda Rogel. Fernando Carrizosa. Valeria Hernández.

    From historical sources we know that the religious buildings of Tenochtitlan (1325–1521 CE) were richly polychromed. Architectural remains of the sacred precinct corroborate this information, as they still contain important remnants of the mural painting on their façades and interiors. Unfortunately, their state of conservation is quite poor, owing, on the one hand, to the particular pictorial materials and techniques utilized by the Mexica during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth...

  • Images of death in Offering 141 of Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple: Human sacrifice and the symbolism of effigy skulls (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Erika Robles Cortés. Ximena Chávez Balderas. Alejandra Aguirre Molina. Michelle De Anda Rogel.

    Offering 141 is one of the numerous deposits found at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan that contain the remains of decapitated individuals associated with the Mexica practice of human sacrifice. After the immolation of men, women, and children, their heads underwent various cultural treatments in order to be utilized by the city’s priests in specific rituals. Although some of these severed heads were buried shortly after death to consecrate the building, others were transformed into effigies of...

  • Images represented in the dressed flint knife offerings from the plaza west of Tenochtitlan's Great Temple (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alejandra Aguirre.

    During the seventh field season of the Templo Mayor Project directed by archaeologist Leonardo López Luján, twenty-two ritual deposits were found in the west plaza at the foot of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Eight of the deposits (Offerings 123, 125, 126, 136, 137, 138, 141, and 163, dating to Ahuitzotl’s reign, Stage VI, 1486–1502 CE) contained more than one hundred flint knives that were dressed with garments bearing the attributes of gods and deified warriors. Some of the knives were...

  • Marine mollusks as evidence of Mexica imperial expansion (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Belem Zúñiga Arellano.

    Of the approximately 175 offerings uncovered in the Templo Mayor Project excavations (1978–present) of Tenochtitlan’s sacred precinct led by Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, 60 reportedly contained marine mollusks. Among them, 47 offerings, dating from 1440 to 1521 CE, were explored between 1978 and 2006, while 13, dating from the reign of Ahuitzotl (1486–1502), were recovered between 2007 and 2013. In the first group, 180 species were identified, including 119 endemic to the Caribbean, 41 to the...

  • A model of the Universe at the foot of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan. An approach to its meaning. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amaranta Arguelles.

    In this paper I will present the study of five offering containers found during the seventh field season of Templo Mayor Project in Downtown Mexico City. The shape of these stone boxes buried in foundation of the main plaza of Tenochtitlan (around 1486 CE), is one of the most important aspects of this ritual complex. They were deposited in the shape of a cross: one was placed in the center, while the others were buried in the cardinal points, representing a Quincunx, a model of the universe. The...

  • New 3D Map of the Templo Mayor Architecture, a Symbol of Mexica Cosmology and Political Power with Teotihuacan Tradition (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Saburo Sugiyama. Leonardo López Luján.

    The 3D map of the Great Temple complex has been elaborated in 2007-2014 with detailed features of thirteen overlapping architectural stages. We first analyze and describe visually each stage calculating dimensions and orientation of the main pyramid complex. Enlarging process gradually changing the spatial distribution and orientations of the temple complex will be discussed in terms of native perspective of cosmology and expanding political power. The E-W orientation and symbolic architecture...

  • Peces de las ofrendas asociadas a Tlaltecuhtli (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ana Guzmán.

    Se describe el contenido ictiológico de tres ofrendas asociadas al monolito de Tlaltecuhtli (1486-1502 d. C.). y se dimensionan los resultados comparándolos con otras ofrendas del mismo sitio (Complejo A: 1440-1469 d. C.). La Ofrenda 120 contenía escasos elementos de siete taxa; la Ofrenda 125, ocho taxa con un individuo cada uno (excepto un caso), con ejemplares completos y taxidérmicos; y la Ofrenda 126, siete taxa con uno a dos ejemplares, tanto completos como taxidérmicos. Las ofrendas a...

  • The polychromy of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan "Standard Bearers" (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Diego Matadamas Gómora. Martha Soto. Ángel González López. Michelle De Anda Rogel.

    During the 1979 Templo Mayor Project excavations in the ruins of Tenochtitlan’s main pyramid, eleven basalt sculptures, ritually buried in a hitherto unseen manner, were exhumed from the fill covering Construction Stage III (1427–1440 CE). Their complex forms and iconographic elements have made ascertaining their function within the sacred precinct of the Mexica capital difficult. After their discovery, it was surmised that they represented Huitzilopochtli’s siblings, the centzonhuitznahuah, and...

  • The roseate spoonbills of Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple and their relation to deceased warriors, nobles, and kings (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Guilhem Olivier. Leonardo López Luján.

    During recent excavations conducted in the Urban Archaeology Program (PAU) and the Templo Mayor Project of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), six offerings containing roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) skeletal remains were found at the foot of Tenochtitlan’s main pyramid. A careful analysis of these bones reveals that the Mexica buried not only complete individual birds in this important ritual scenario, but also their multicolor feathered skins. Although the...

  • The Sun, the Xiuhcoatl and the eagle: incense burners found at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Miguel García González.

    In 2009 a spectacular offering containing incense burners was excavated close to the area in which the Tlaltecuhtli monolith was located. Three of these artifacts preserved complex decoration, similar to the iconography that characterizes the incense burners discovered in 1900. Two of the handles of these ritual objects represent disarticulated eagle legs, while the other symbolize the segmented body of a mythical creature, the Xiuhcoatl. The eagle was an essential animal for the Mexica: it was...

  • Wooden scepters in the offerings of Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple: A symbolic interpretation (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Margarita Mancilla Medina. Laura Angélica Ortíz Tenorio. Mirsa Alejandra Islas Orozco.

    The excavation of the Great Temple, one of the most important precincts in Mexica society, began more than thirty years ago. Since then, the examination of thousands of artifacts and organic materials has greatly increased our knowledge about Mexica cosmovision. During its seventh field season, the Templo Mayor Project has excavated thirty-six offerings. The flooded context of these oblatory deposits enabled the conservation of various organic materials that commonly degrade with the passage of...