The Architectural and Urban Design Principles of Tenochtitlan

Author(s): Antonieta Rivera

Year: 2018


There exists a vast literature examining every aspect of Aztec culture. Despite this, few studies focus specifically on Aztec architecture and its implications for understanding broader aspects of Aztec cosmology. This paper contributes to our knowledge of Aztec society through an exploration of architectural and urban design principles that guided the building of their cities and ceremonial precincts. By examining ethnohistoric and archaeological sources, and drawing on evidence from several disciplines—art, astronomy, geography, geometry, mathematics and religion—I present a body of information relevant to the study of Aztec architecture and urban planning in order to analyse it from an archaeoastronomical perspective. I present a methodology that allows accurate analyses of the astronomical and topographic orientations of settlements and ceremonial architecture. This methodology integrates a wide range of digital applications including Google Earth, Google Maps, solar charting, topographic analysis, open-content collaborative, geo-location-oriented photo sharing applications as well as a custom-built geometric application. The results allow for a new understanding of: (1) the design principles of the Huey Teocalli, (2) the layout and design principles utilized in the construction of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco and, (3) the Aztec remodelling of Tenayuca, Santa Cecilia Acatitlan and Teopanzolco.

Cite this Record

The Architectural and Urban Design Principles of Tenochtitlan. Antonieta Rivera. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443526)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22744