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Anthropology and Other Things of Interest in Mexico

The day before yesterday we visited a Warhol exhibit at the Jumex Museum. It was an experience. Neither of us knew about his fascination with violent death. Many images of suicides landing on cars, terrible auto accidents, and criminals condemned to the electric chair. The renderings of famous people, soup cans, and boxes were what we expected, but there was also an interactive display called “Silver Clouds”. Here is Alexis inside that display.

The Jumex Museum was across the street from a huge Costco store, so we went in to see if anything was different. Not much.

Yesterday was time for the Anthropology Museum, overwhelming. I did learn that when I was here last the famous artifact known then as the “Aztec Calendar”, in fact isn’t a calendar. It is now known as “The Stone of the Sun”. It was discovered in December, 1790, and has been moved five times before finding a permanent home in the Anthropology Museum. It is, actually, a large gladiatorial sacrificial altar, known as a temalacatl. It was never finished because on the back side is a large crack that runs from an edge to the center. It is believed that it was used to stage ceremonial fights between warriors, despite the crack. Here’s Alexis in front of the Stone of the sun.

In the large plaza in the middle of the museum is an amazing carved-stone water feature that cools the place by at least five degrees centigrade.

Today we spent about three hours at the “Templo Mayor Museum”, and associated archeological digs. The excavations for this dig didn’t start until 1978, although the Stone of the Sun was found near this site over two-hundred years earlier. It is an amazing place, in the historic center of Mexico City. The site and museum, which must have well over a thousand artifacts, most taken from the site, are both very well done. Almost all the explanatory writings have English translations and are very informative. The displays are artfully done and allow close examination (but no touching). The site includes the original location of the main pyramid (temple) but is only a small portion of the sacred precinct of Tenorchitlan. That covered an area not comprising seven city blocks in what is now the Zocalo and surrounding buildings.

Here is a photo of a small part of the excavation that shows a statue of Tlaloc (the Rain God). He is identified as such by the goggle shapes around the eyes, long fangs, and complex decoration on top of the head that represents a headdress with folded paper fans on the sides and a band of green stones, topped by white feathers.

I was not aware, before this trip, that the buildings and temples of all the various city/states in Mexico, were, in many places, covered with plaster that was painted in brilliant colors and depicted important celebrations and events. It seems Mexico has been a colorful, civilized place, for a very long time.

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