The Aztecs - Stone of the Fifth Sun
Misleadingly called "the calendar stone" because of the day-signs encircling its center, this massive carving had much greater significance a depiction of the Aztec cosmos. Its complex symbolism, the meaning of which is still debated by scholars, was crucial to the people of Tenochtitlan, who believed their continuance on earth depended on correct interpretation of their god's demands.
The basaltic disk, 3.6 meters (12 feet) in diameter and weighing 24 metric tones, was uncovered in 1790 in what have been Tenochtitlan's main square, now New Mexico City's Zòcalo. The intricacy of its carving demonstrated Aztec accomplishments in art and mathematics and their ability to carve stone.
First embedded for viewing in the base of Mexico City's cathedral. the stone is now the centerpiece of the National Museum of Anthropology. Artist Felipe Dàvalos has added its likely colors, long worn away.
Some suggest that the disk was never finished because the back portion was cracked, an imperfection intolerable to the priests who would honor their gods with it. Spanish chronicles describe similar stones, one being dragged along a causeway intro the city during the reign of Moctezuma II, the ruler conquered by Cortés. Most agree that placement of such stones would have been horizontal, perhaps to receive the hearts of sacrificial victims.
The iconography relates when the Aztec world began, how it would continue, and when it would reach its inevitable end. The Aztecs believed they were living in the fifth and last creation of the world.
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