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Aztec Calendar Stone, 1886

Native Americans. Aztec Calendar Stone, also called Stone of the Sun
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_3105
 
Document Description
The Aztec Calendar Stone, also called Stone of the Sun, Mexico City. Photograph taken in 1886.
 
Questions
What is the shape of this stone?
What pictures do you see on it?
Look at the engravings on the stone.  Why do you think it was made like that?
Look also at the "Sacrificial Stone of Tizoc" and the "Image of Huitzilopochtli." Describe the different parts of Aztec life that are reflected in these three sculptures.
What does this image have in common with the other two Aztec sculptures? 
Why would Aztec sculptures have these designs?
 
Historical Challenges
The Sun Stone was originally placed on the main temple in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. It faced south and was painted bright red, blue, yellow, and white. Research what parts of the Sun Stone were painted and make a small clay model of one section of the Sun Stone, painting it in its original colors.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Find the circumference of the Sun Stone. It is divided into eight equal sections. What would be the length of the outer side of each section?
Science: The Aztecs used herbal medicines to relieve patients’ symptoms. Find out what herbs were used as remedies and what illnesses they relieved.
English Language Arts: Write a myth explaining why Aztecs believed that dead warriors returned as hummingbirds.
 
Resources
MacDonald, Fiona. How to Be an Aztec Warrior. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2005. ISBN: 0792236327
MacDonald, Fiona, Mark Bergin, and David Salariya. How Would You Survive as an Aztec? Scholastic Library Publishing, 1997. ISBN: 0531153045
Nicholson, Sue. Aztecs and Incas. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. ISBN: 0753452367
Smith, Michael E. The Aztecs (Peoples of America). Blackwell Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 0631230165
Steele, Philip. The Aztec News. Candlewick Press, 2000. ISBN: 0763604275
Tagholm, Sally. Everyday Life in the Ancient World: A Guide to Travel in Ancient Times. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. ISBN: 0753454645
 

Historical Context
The Sun Stone was carved during the 1400s and took over fifty years to carve.  It is twelve feet in diameter, three feet thick, and originally weighed almost twenty-five tons.  In the center is the face of Tonatiuh, the sun god to whom the stone is dedicated.  The tongue is sticking out to show that the god wants to be fed with blood and human hearts.  The Sun Stone was buried when the Spaniards conquered the city of Tenochtitlan.  It was found under the central plaza in Mexico City when repairs were being made on the cathedral there.
 
Essential Question
How does geography influence the development of culture?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the object in the photograph and explain how geography contributed to the creation of this object.