There are many artifacts from ancient, mysterious civilizations. From Japan in the East to California in the West, Russia in the North to Argentina in the south, there is history everywhere. This history is passed down through oral history and the remaining remnants of these societies. For “lost” civilizations, modern knowledge of the cultures solely relies on deciphering these relics of people long gone. The Aztecs are one such civilization; they were wiped out by European weapons and diseases. There are several artifacts from their civilization remaining; however, the Aztec Calendar may be the most famous. The Aztec Calendar, which resides in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, is a fascinating piece of history that is still being deciphered and examined.
The National Museum of Anthropology (or Museo Nacional de Antropología) in Mexico City possesses the largest collection of Ancient Mexican art. Though it is technically across the street, it is still considered to be inside the first section of Chapultepec Park. It contains a hall for each of the Mesoamerican cultural regions. The museum has a courtyard, and it provides guide services, audio guides, a gift shop, and a restaurant. The museum’s admission is fifty-seven pesos, and it is open from nine in the morning to seven in the evening on Tuesday through Sunday. According to one author, the museum has three highlights. One is the Recreation of Pakal’s Tomb, located in the Maya exhibit; another is the Jade Mask of the Zapotec Bat God, located in the Oaxaca exhibit. The last of the “highlights” is the Aztec Calendar, which is also known as the sun stone (Barbezat). The Calendar is displayed prominently on a wall in the famous museum.
The Aztec Calendar, considered the “…roadmap of the Aztecs’ destiny,” (Aztecs: Reign of Blood and Splendor 10), is a slab of basalt that is approximately three and a half meters in diameter. This mysterious rock weighs in at nearly twenty-five tons (about the weight of 9,050,000 pennies). The calendar is roughly four feet thick. Though the chunk of basalt may seem dull now, it once contained vibrant colors in addition to its intricate carvings (O’Connell). The circular stone’s massive size looms above the heads of the men and women that visit the National Museum of Anthropology.
The stone, which was sculpted during the reign of King Axayácalt some forty years prior to the Spanish conquest by anonymous artists (O’Connell), was once located in the Temple of Huitzilopochtli; however, it was hidden by Spanish invaders in 1521, after the defeat of Tenochtitlan. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, many artifacts were ruined or hidden by the conquistadors as the objects had religious connections. One goal of the Spanish was to convert the natives to Christianity (specifically Catholicism), so other religious materials could be considered threats to that goal. This resulted in the loss of many Aztec artifacts. The Aztec Calendar was unearthed by...