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The Aztec Templo Mayor: Urban Archaeology in Modern Mexico City

Leonardo López Luján


The Proyecto Templo Mayor of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia was created in 1978, as a consequence of the discovery of a monolith depicting Coyolxauhqui, the Aztec moon goddess. Since then, other impressive public monuments have come to light in downtown Mexico City, in the area occupied by the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan. Archaeologists recently uncovered the largest Aztec sculpture ever found, that of the earth goddess Tlaltecuhtli. After an overview on the history of archaeology in Mexico City, this lecture will focus on the new Tlaltecuhtli stone, undertaking a formal, iconographic, and symbolic analysis in order to unveil its functions and meanings. The exceptionally rich offerings buried under this sculpture will also be described. Finally, the possible presence of a royal tomb at the foot of the Great Temple will be discussed.

Leonardo López Luján is a Mexican archaeologist and the current director of the Templo Mayor project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). He specializes in the politics, religion, and art of Pre-Columbian urban societies in Central Mexico.

Lecture hosted by the Archaeological Research Facility at UC Berkeley in collaboration with the Departments of Anthropology and History of Art and with the Association for Latin American Art triennial conference “Art at Large: Public and Monumental Arts in the Americas."