One of the most intriguing civilisations of the last millenia, the Aztec Empire wasn’t a particularly long-lasting one. Starting as an alliance of three city states called Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan, the Aztecs ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico from 1428 until 1521. It wasn’t long after its formation that Tenochtitlan became dominant, and the Aztec Empire was effectively ruled from there. The whole thing was crushed by Hernan Cortes and his group of conquistadores with their native allies. Tenochtitlan is situated in the centre of what is now Mexico City.
In the few years following the defeat of the Aztecs, a large calendar stone was buried in the Zocalo, the main square of the capital. Rediscovered in late 1790, it was mounted to the outside of Mexico City Cathedral, where it remained for the next 95 years. Now residing in the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, this is no trinket and clearly of importance to the Aztecs. Its size alone indicates great significance.
How big is it? At 3.58 metres in diameter, 0.98 metres thick, and weighing almost 22 tonnes, its production must have been difficult, but you certainly couldn’t tell from the exquisite finished article. If it were formed in silver, it would weigh just shy of 104 tonnes – in gold, over 190 tonnes. The surface of the stone is a depiction of the central elements of Mexica cosmonogy