Golden Eagle Sculpture Unearthed in Aztec Temple

News January 26, 2021

(Mirsa Islas)
Mexico Eagle Relief
(Mirsa Islas)

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO—According to a statement released by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), archaeologists led by Rodolfo Aguilar Tapia have uncovered a bas-relief sculpture of a golden eagle in the floor of the Aztec chapel dedicated to Huitzilopochtli at the Templo Mayor. The well-preserved floor surface was covered during an expansion of the temple before the arrival of the Spanish in Tenochtitlan in the sixteenth century, Tapia explained. The image measures about 3.5 feet long and 2.3 feet wide, and is thought to have been carved on volcanic rock known as red tezontle during the reign of Moctezuma I, between A.D. 1440 and 1469. The temple floor was also marked with more than 60 smaller carvings. The eagle and other carvings on the south side of the building are thought to be linked to the story of the birth cycle of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, the sun, and human sacrifice as well as the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. The bas-reliefs on the floor of the northern side of the building are associated with Tlaloc, the god of rain, water, lightning, and agriculture. The sculptures will be removed while the researchers continue to investigate the site, but will eventually be returned to the floor of the Templo Mayor for display. For more on the Templo Mayor, go to "Under Mexico City."

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