Templo Mayor: The Excavation

Posted by admin on Thursday Aug 30, 2012 Under Uncategorized

Mexico Series: Part 5Mexican Flag

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With the excavation of the Templo Mayor we are about to learn more, confirm or amplify what is already known about the Aztecs. (I’m showing this graphic just to remind you of what the Templo Mayor may have looked like.)

Templo Mayor in Mexico

Here’ yours truly with a friend on the rooftop of the Photography Museum. I’m showing this to give you some sense of scale. Behind me is the Cathedral, but to my right shoulder is the excavation site of the Templo Mayor. We were told we couldn’t take pictures of it, so I pulled this one from google. And this one. Those are human skulls embedded into the base of the Templo and then covered with limestone.

Temple Base with Human Skulls

In 2006, a significant stone slab of the goddess Tlatecuhtli, goddess of the underworld, was unearthed, the largest Aztec idol to have been discovered to date and archeologists believe it is the door to a very important tomb. And last year a burial crypt of a dog was found on an underground platform inside what was once the pyramid. The Mexicas believed that a dog led one through the underworld, and this recently discovered dog was no ordinary dog. It bore turquoise ear coverings, jade necklaces, gold bells around each leg and scattered all around it were sea shells — highly prized objects.

From the Aztec codices, archeologists know that the remains of three rulers were buried at the foot of the Templo Mayor, and they are convinced that very soon this passageway will lead them to the tomb of the Mexica ruler most responsible for the expansion of the empire in the mid 1400s.

We’re going to break for lunch now and wander over to the venerable restaurant El Cardenal in the Centro Historico about two blocks away. They make great margaritas and wonderful Mole Poblano, and over lunch, we’ll talk about symbolism of the Templo Mayor.

El Cardenal Centro Historico

At roughly ninety feet tall, the pyramid represents, a hill — Coatepec — a reference to the birthplace of the sun/ war god Huitzilipotchli. On top of the pyramid are two temples — one to Huitzilipotchli, and the other to Tlaloc, the rain god/ the god of sustenance. From all over Tenochitlan, the residents could see the pyramid and were thus made aware of the dual gods of life and death that ruled over them. They were reminded that their fate was in the hands of those gods and the rulers who were carrying out their wishes.

The pyramid was brightly painted with polychrome paint and decorated with carvings of symbolic importance. The base was surrounded by carved serpents, which denoted sacred space. Within the pyramid are several inner chambers, and of, course on top, near the temples, would have been the sacrificial platform.

While the two temples represent the Aztec concept of the duality of life — life/death/ day/ night and so on, this duality is unlike the Zen concept of Yin and Yang. The Aztec duality was envisioned as a real battle — not a metaphoric one — between opposing forces. Day and night were explained as a war between the sun god Huitzilipotchtli and the Lords of the Night with sunrise representing the sun god’s victory over his enemies.

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Mexico: A Love Story

Posted by admin on Thursday Aug 9, 2012 Under Uncategorized

It’s the Dog Days of Summer here.

I mean it’s hot.

See this picture? That’s pretty much just what 109 degrees looks like.

Lucky for me, Dave’s up in Berkeley for a few days, and girls, you know what that means.

No cooking. No nada.

And certainly, no hauling myself off this mountain—where even here it reached 97 degrees today—to go to the markets in Fresno.

Now, if I’d run out of martini olives, we might have an emergency, but I have the gin, the vermouth, the olives, the glass AND the shaker in the refrigerator. All is well.

We go through this for a couple of weeks in the summer, and its not so bad if you have about zero expectations that you’ll get anything done.

I water the garden in the morning and after that, the plants—which are looking shaggy, bedraggled and downright sad—are on their own.

Back in the shuttered darkness of my room after all the watering is done and with the little window air-conditioner purring loudly, I reach for this wonderful book I’ve been reading called Mexico: A Love Story—Women Write about the Mexican Experience, because who wouldn’t want to be at a beach like this in 100 degree weather even if only in her mind?

Well, this book—edited by Camille Cusumano— pulled me back into my youth so fast, back to a time when I was wandering around all of those places like these writers, falling in love, renting funky beach hotels, just as brave (or dumb) and full of wonder, feeling as if all this bounty had been put there just pour moi, or para mi, as the case would be.

(Oh and Lynda? If you’re reading this blog, get the book, read the story that begins on page 129 and call me! Seriously!)

In one of the memoirs by Laura Resau— Bees Born of Tears— a woman visits a Oaxacan curandera for a spiritual cleansing. As bees swarm around her and the ancient curandera, the healer’s daughter tells the author the bees are their spririts, that they have met before and have brought the two women together again.

Resau writes of that moment: “The wings inside my chest move, I can feel them. They move with a thrill, a sense of discovering layers of meaning like ribbons intermingling in the wind. They move with the sudden knowledge that the world is a strange, deep rich place.”

I swear that happens to me in Mexico, too. It’s why I keep going back.

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Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link