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Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes

By Davíd Carrasco

Publication Year: 1999

"Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes provides a pregnant opportunity to integrate specific Mesoamerican materials into the wider discussions of major theoretical issues in the general and comparative history of religions."—History of Religions

A result of four years of cooperative research between the University of Colorado and the Templo Mayor Project of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes (formerly available as To Change Place) offers new interpretive models from the fields of archaeoastronomy, history of religion, anthropology, art history, and archaeology.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

About the Contributors

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pp. ix-x

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Foreword: Changing Times and Changing Places in Aztec and Maya Studies

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pp. xi-xiv

It is a rare event when a collection of conference essays presents both a comprehensive treatment of the intricacies and complexities of an important research problem, and a new vision of how those particulars can best be understood from a broad-based theoretical perspective. The present book represents just such an exceptional offering. ...

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pp. xv-xvi

This book is one of the fruits of a ten-year cooperative research project of the University of Colorado, through the Mesoamerican Archive directed by David Carrasco, and the Great Temple Project of Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropoloogia e Historia. The conference, "Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes," which took place June 19-23, 1989, at the ...

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pp. xvii-xviii

I want to thank Lois Middleton for her extraordinary gifts of time, labor, patience, and guidance, which helped make this publication possible. Also, Scott Sessions served as overtime research assistant for the book, and he helped with the primary sources and the photographs. Linda Cohen helped us put things in order during the initial stages of the work. ...

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Introduction: Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes

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pp. xix-xxx

This book, generated by the scholars' conference "Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes" held at the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City, is both a culminating point and a moment of transition in the study of Mesoamerican religions. It marks the completion of a cycle begun ten years earlier when the first international conference of scholars met at the ...

Part I: New Discoveries at El Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco, and Mt.Tlaloc

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1. Notes on the Oldest Sculpture of El Templo Mayor at Tenochtitlan

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pp. 3-8

The oldest stage of the Templo Mayor that we have discovered so far is the one we call Stage II (see Figure 1.1). according to our tentative chronology, this stage corresponds approximately to the year A.D. 1390, the period before the Mexicas liberated themselves from the rule of Azcapotzalco, under whom they were subjugated. In trying to find elements ...

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2. A Study of Skeletal Materials from Tlatelolco

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pp. 9-19

Recent excavations carried out at the archaeological site of Tlatelolco, under the auspices of the Proyecto Templo Mayor and the University of Colorado, Boulder, recovered a number of offerings consisting of diverse materials and archaeological objects. Three successive seasons in the field were necessary for complete extraction of this abundant and complex ...

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3. Discovery of a Painted Mural at Tlatelolco

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pp. 20-25

As part of the investigation of the Great Temple Project under the direction of Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, a series of archaeological explorations were initiated in 1987 at the ceremonial site of Tlatelolco in what is called the Plaza de Tres Culturas. This excavation was supported by funds from the University of Colorado, especially the Mesoamerican...

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4. The Mt.Tlaloc Project

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pp. 26-30

The project to survey and map the Aztec temple on Mt. Tlaloc was successfully carried out in April 1989 by the project directors Richard F. Townsend of the art Institute of Chicago and Felipe Solis of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico. We were assisted by the archaeologist Alejandro Pastrana and the archaeologist and mapmaker Hernando...

Part II: Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes

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5. The Sacrifice of Tezcatlipoca: To Change Place

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pp. 31-57

In a series of sharp, critical essays aimed at shifting the direction of the discipline of the history of religions, Jonathan Z. Smith urges a focus on the category of place rather than sacred space. In his new book, To take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual, Smith describes his enterprise as "a matter of theory: the issue of ritual and its relation to place." Smith begins with ...

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6. Mapping the Ritual Landscape: Debt Payment to Tlaloc During the Month of Atlcahualo

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pp. 58-73

We are not to picture ancient cities to ourselves as anything like what we see in our day. We build a few houses; it is a village. Insensibly the number of houses increases, and it becomes a city; and finally, if there is occasion for it, we surround this with a wall. With the ancients, the city was never formed by degrees, by the slow ...

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7. The Sacred Landscape of Aztec Calendar Festivals: Myth, Nature, and Society

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pp. 74-120

the interdisciplinary study of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, combining ethnohistory, archaeology, archaeoastronomy, art history, and history of religions, has been a particularly fruitful field of research in the Valley of Mexico, historic heartland of the Triple Alliance and seat of numerous important city-states with distinctive ethnic affiliations and ancient ...

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8. Migration Histories as Ritual Performance

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pp. 121-151

In working with the pictorial codices that present the history of the Aztec migration from Aztlan to Tenochtitlan, I am struck by the very humanness of the migration story. It is not that the narrative is particularly person in itself; in fact, the opposite is the case; Named individuals are only occasionally distinguished. Rather, the migration is a period of ...

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9. The Myth of the Half-Man Who Descended from the Sky

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pp. 152-157

Mesoamericanists encounter notably persistent historio-graphic problems. One of them, and it is one of the most serious, is the interpretation of historical myth: Narratives in which the action of gods and men are mixed together in the playing out of the miracle tale are frequent. The basis for Mesoamerican historical tales consists of a creation myth. The ...

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10. The Octli Cult in Late Pre-Hispanic Central Mexico

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pp. 158-187

The complex religious/ritual system of late pre-Hispanic Central Mexico featured numerous cults involving the propitiation of various deities believed to control different aspects of the natural and human universe. One of the most interesting and colorful of these focused on the maguey or "century plant" (Agave salmiana Otto, Agave otrovirens Kawr, ...

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11. Dryness Before the Rains: Toxcatl and Tezcatlipoca

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pp. 188-204

The god Tezcatlipoca and his fiesta Toxcatl had religious, political, and economic importance in relation to seasonality; periods of dryness in contrast to times of rain. For the association of human activity with this pattern in nature, I have been inspired by Pedro Carrasco's (1976) pioneering study in which he associated the months and fiestas of the Aztec ...

Part III: Changing Voices

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12. Reflection on the Miraculous Waters of Tenochtitlan

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pp. 205-211

Yesterday we ascended Tepeyac and were asked to look and to see. Like so many gret seers throughout history, we have been taken up onto a high mountaintop by Johanna Broda (see Chapter 7, above). One thinks of the scene that was witnessed by fellow visionary pilgrims: Elija, Moses, Zarathushra, the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed. Like them we were shown ...

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13. Vamos a Rezar a San Marcos: A Tlapanec Pilgrimage

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pp. 212-218

This brief chapter will describe a short Mesoamerican pilgrimage. In the framework of the conference of 1989 we discussed some of Victor Turner's illuminating concepts of pilgrimages in Mexico in his Dramas, Fields and Metaphors. It is not my intent to discuss all possible theoretical implications, but several of the general characteristics of pilgrimage, ...

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14. Eating Landscape: Human Sacrifice and Sustenance in Aztec Mexico

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pp. 219-232

The Aztec deity Tlaloc, god of rain, earth, and vegetation, literally embodied the Mexican landscape. Material attributes of the Aztec environment were necessities that occasioned ritual interaction between human and divine worlds. Material reality, particularly the material components that constituted the human body, was taken as evidence of a ...

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15. Religious Rationalization and the Conversions of the Nahuas: Social Organization and Colonial Epistemology

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pp. 233-245

In 1987 I began to analyze the links between three related processes; the confessional practices used in sixteenth-century Central Mexico; the colonization of Nahua minds and bodies (as opposed to institutions); and the birth of modern anthropology as a by-product of the first two endeavors. The brief discussion here is necessarily sketched in very broad ...

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16. Remnants of the Shaman

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pp. 246-248

Tezcatlipoca as revealed in the rituals of the month of Toxcatl is interpreted by Heyden and other scholars as the symbol of the end of the dry season, the time of the coming of the rains, the change from sterility to fertility. Indeed, the activities of the festival indicate that this was the meaning of the elaborate drama played out ritually each year by the ixiptla ...


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pp. 249-254

E-ISBN-13: 9781607321194
E-ISBN-10: 160732119X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870815096
Print-ISBN-10: 0870815091

Page Count: 284
Illustrations: 13 b/w photographs, 46 b/w illustraitons, 8 tables
Publication Year: 1999