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Ancient Middle America

Spring 2019 Calendar

 map: topographic
  map: Mesoamerica and Its Cultural Areas
 Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica

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Ancient Middle America Course Information

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Sunday, 23-Jun-2024 05:48:52 GMT


Aztec-Inca map.

Aztec - Inca Map


Aztec gold.

Aztec Gold

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"The Sweat of the Sun"
from the Tribal Eye Series

52 min., 1975, VC 169


Aztec HomePage
Inca HomePage

Abstract Terms / Concepts Notes
Cultures Sites Individuals Bibliography
/ Resources

Mesoamerica > Aztec -- Wikipedia


Inca Gold

Inca Gold


Aztec gold.
Aztec Gold

"Visits various sites of ancient Inca and Aztec splendor and examines gold artifacts that escaped the pillaging of the Spanish conquerors. Discusses the significance of these objects and describes how they were used by Aztec and Inca priests in practical and ritual fashion."

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Three major driving forces of early exploration and colonization of Middle and South America were . . .
"pagan" souls to be saved

Sweat of the Sun is a comparative look at gold . . .

At the very end of the film note the similarities between some of these practices at Laguna de Guatavita (Columbia) and the offerings at the sacred cenote at Chichén Itzá


Terms / Concepts

  • tzompantli (skull rack)

  • chinampa ("floating gardens," similar to "raised field agriculture" among the Maya)

  • religious syncretism

  • "lost-wax" casting (aka cire perdue)

  • mestzo

  • "vaquero" -- grave robber

    • find gold in 1 grave in 20 (in northern Columbia)

  • poporo -- small bottle used to keep cacao

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  • The Aztecs were fascinated by animals

    • Mochtezuma's zoo

    • rattlesnakes were of particular importance because they are sacred

    • jaguar

    • The Aztec believed in sould, but what happened to them depended not on how they lived, but on how they died

      • The souls of warriors killed in battle and men sacrificed to the gods return as hummingbirds and butterflies

    • grasshopper

    • flea

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  • The temple at Malinalco was dedicated to the two orders of chivalery, the Jaguars and the eagles

    • jaguar = god of the night sky

    • eagle = god of the sun

  • death skulls (Dia de los Muertos)

    • The Aztecs were "preoccupied with death" and if there was a symbol of that obsession, it was the skull

  • Aztec tribute lists were obtained by the Spanish

  • backstrap loom (belt loom)

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  • Aztec (Nahuatl); Aztec Poetry

  • Maya

  • Inca (Peru)

    • Had houses made of cut rock with niches for their gold pieces

  • Mixtec

    • The finest pieces of gold that the Aztecs owned were made by their neighbors, the Mixtec

  • Totonacs

    • voladores de Papantla

      • man in center signifies the sun

      • the 4 men signify the 4 seasons of the year, and each circles the pole 13 times

        • 4 X 13 = 52 years = major calendar cycle

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  • Conquistadors

  • Mochica (aka Moche)

    • pre-Inca civilization on the coast of Peru, were gooldworkers ca. 2,500 ybp. In their goldworking they used hammering, cutting, bending, casting, encrusting, soldering, hammering into sheets, wrapping metal around a wooden core

  • Quechua (Kechua) languages = Inca language

  • Chimu

    • The pre-Incan Chimu had more gold than the Mochica

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  • Tenochititlán

    • "The Venice of the Americas"

    • in the early 1500s = 300,000 people

      • four times the size of London of Henry VIII

    • "One of the most spectacular cities on earth."

  • Xochimilco ("Floating Gardens")

  • Malinalco (70 mi. south of Mexico City)

  • Cuzco (Peru)

  • Machu Picchu (Peru; Inca)

    • intewahutana

      • "hitching post of the sun"

      • used to calculate the equinoxes and other things

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  • Atahualpa -- Inca emperor kidnapped by the Spaniards

  • Columbia

    • more ancient gold survived in Columbia than anywhere else in America

    • Tairona
      • ca. 500 ybp

      • used most gold casting techniques, but were masters of the lost wax technique

  • Laguna de Guatavita (Columbia)

    • Legend of "El Dorado" ("The Golden One")
    • note the similarities between some of these practices and the offerings at the sacred cenote at Chichén Itzá


  • Huichitlipochtle -- God of Fire

News Items

Mexican Museum Puts on Exhibit for 'Artistic' Aztec God -- ABC News (07 August 2015)

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