Fire, transformation and bone relics: elite funerals at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan

Author(s): Ximena Chávez Balderas

Year: 2015


As described in historical sources, the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan was the final resting place for some elite individuals: their bodies were exposed to the fire and cremated bones were deposited in funerary urns. However, archaeological findings suggest that funerary rituals were more complex, depending on the identity, social status and cause of death of the deceased as well as body symbolism. Seven urns containing cremated bones from five individuals along with numerous burial goods were found in this building, proving the existence of an important diversity in funerary rituals. In this paper I will present the different types of cremation rituals, the symbolism of fire as a transforming element, as well as the symbolism of cremated remains and its possible use as bone relics for consecrating ritual spaces.

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Cite this Record

Fire, transformation and bone relics: elite funerals at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Ximena Chávez Balderas. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395564)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;