Crocodiles in the Offerings of the Great Temple: use and symbolism

Author(s): Erika Robles Cortés

Year: 2017


The numerous animals placed in the offerings of the Templo Mayor were brought in through tributes, trade, or spoils of war from every corner of the Aztec Empire—from tropical jungles to deserts. Indeed, the largest part of the fauna included in the collection at the Templo Mayor is identified as foreign. Crocodiles are among the exotic animals on display. This presentation explains the process of how these crocodiles were acquired, from their selection, to their hunt or capture, and, later, their transportation to Tenochtitlan. If crocodiles arrived alive, they were probably sheltered in "Moctezuma’s Zoo." When deposited in the offerings, some of these crocodiles were buried entirely, while others were turned into leather or ornaments. The location, orientation, and relation of the crocodiles with other animals and objects from the offerings were carefully planned. Some depositories were consummated in conjunction with the building’s consecration, others were situated in the occasion of a funerary ritual, and some others were placed as messages to the Gods.

Cite this Record

Crocodiles in the Offerings of the Great Temple: use and symbolism. Erika Robles Cortés. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429830)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14778