Cultures & Traditions

Aztec

The last indigenous state of Mesoamerica, the Aztec Empire was founded by nomads in the Valley of Mexico in 1325 CE. Before the arrival of the Spanish in 1519 CE, Aztec authority spread by conquest from their capital at Tenochtitlán (Mexico City) through most of present-day Mexico. Aztec power ended with Spanish conquest. According to the ancient Mexican calendar, the wind and storm god Quetzalcoatl was born in Year 1 Reed. Hernán Cortes and his Spanish army arrived in Mexico in 1519, which corresponded with the Mexican calendar’s Year 1 Reed. The Aztecs, who had risen to power in the Valley of Mexico by the 15th century, interpreted Cortes’s arrival as the return of Quetzalcoatl and welcomed him with gifts. Communities in Mixtec and Zapotec kingdoms resented Aztec rule and readily allied with the Spanish, aiding their conquest of the Aztecs. Aztec art forms include highly realistic stone sculpture, turquoise mosaic, and finely crafted small‑scale works in ceramic, stone, and precious materials such as turquoise. Human sacrifice was a critical element in Aztec ritual and is often depicted in Aztec art.

Adapted from

  • "Mask, possibly of Tlaloc," DMA Connect, 2012.

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Mask, possibly of Tlaloc (1979.2)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 50.

  • Carol Robbins, "Mask, possibly of Tlaloc (1979.2)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 193.

Related Multimedia

Boshell Family Lecture Series on archaeology; series title "Beginnings of Civilization"; speaker is Director of Science Division, Mercyhurst Archaeology Institute
Boshell Family Lecture Series on archaeology; series title "Beginnings of Civilization"; speaker is Director of Science Division, Mercyhurst Archaeology Institute

Web Resources