dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Museum of the "Templo Mayor"

I wrote yesterday about the excavation of the "Templo Mayor", the main temple of the Aztecs.  I also mentioned that during the course of their dig archaeologists found thousands of artifacts.  To house everything, a new museum was built in 1987.  In a city of museums (more than any other city in the world), I personally think that the "Templo Mayor" Museum is second only to the National Museum of Anthropology.  It should definitely be on any visitor's list of places to see.

The archaeological excavation began when a large, round carving of the Aztec moon goddess, Coyolxauhqui, was discovered beneath a Mexico City street.  For many years Coyolxauhqui was the star attractiion, and the museum was built around the carving, with upper story balconies from which visitors could better view it.

 The stone disc of the moon goddess is nearly eleven feet in diameter.
It is best viewed from above.

The excavations continue to the present day, and new finds are being uncovered.  The moon goddess has now taken a back seat to a carving which was discovered in 2006 and moved into the museum in 2010.  The image of the earth goddess, Tlaltecuhtli, measures more than 13 by 11 feet.  It is the largest Aztec monument...  bigger than Coyolxauhqui, and even bigger than the famous Aztec calendar stone.  The stone still contains traces of the original paints.

 This is what the carving would have looked like when it was painted.

   The size of the carving is best appreciated from above.

The halls of the museum are filled with many other interesting objects.  Here is a sampling of a few of them...

 A human skull incrusted with decorations.  Locks of hair may have been placed in the holes on the top of the skull.

 A polished stone mask and ear jewelry

 A polychrome ceramic vessel with the image of the goddess of ripe corn

 An impressive life-size ceramic sculpture of an Eagle Warrior.  
The Eagle Warriors were members of an elite military order, and wore an eagle uniform.
Remnants of stucco emulate the feathers which covered their uniform.

This truly scary, life-size, ceramic figure portrays the God of Death.


  1. Thanks for the updated tour amigo! I hope to get on a plane to Mexico City this year. As a tourist rather than as a returning resident, sadly. And I really must actually go inside Templo Mayor. Can you believe, in the six years I lived there and the dozens of times I wandered around the outside fence and walls, I never went inside?!

    1. You really must visit the Templo and the museum. The ruins are not exceptionally impressive, but it's amazing to think that all of this was sitting beneath the city streets for nearly 500 years. The museum is very well done!!
      Any idea when you will be coming to Mexico? I will most likely be here again in April.

    2. Not as soon as April. Sometime between June and October. Probably June though.

    3. One of these days our paths will cross in Mexico!