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The Aztec Sun Stone

What is the Aztec Sun Stone?

The Aztec Sun Stone, often called the Aztec calendar, is a massive, 24-ton stone carving currently on display at the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City. It is estimated that the sun stone was carved in roughly 1479 A.D.

Interestingly, many tourists don’t know the stone was made by Mexican cultures: you can sometimes see an image of the stone for sale on t-shirts in Peru and Ecuador with the title “Inca Calendar!”

The Ages of the World

The Aztecs believed that they were living in the fifth age of the world: each age had a different sun and each sun represented a different God. In the center of the stone is a grimacing face: it holds a sacrificial knife in its mouth. To the sides, clawed hands hold sacrificed hearts.

Many believe the face and hands belong to Tonatiuh, the Aztec Sun God of the fifth age. Around the central figure are four scenes that depict the four previous ages (“suns”) of the world. The four ages were jaguar, wind, fiery rain and water. The next ring depicts the 20 days of the Aztec cycle: they have names like deer, rabbit, wind and skull. The Aztec year had 18 months of 20 days each, for a total of 360 days. Five additional days were added every year, and were ominously referred to as “days of sacrifice.” The Aztec century lasted 52 years.?

Where to See the Stone

The sun stone is one of the most easily recognizable images of Mexico’s Aztec history, and no visit to Mexico City would be complete without a trip to the world-class Anthropology museum to check out the sun stone and countless other priceless artifacts.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Mexico: Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, The Mexican Revolution, Juan Rulfo, Site History, History and Politics of Mexico, Pueblo Fantasmo, Monumento a la Independencia, Porfirio Diaz, The Ciudad Juarez Murders and Subcomandante Marcos.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
29 Apr 2009

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