Aztec exhibit at Cantón begs comparison with ancient Mayans

At the Palacio Cantón, "Mexicas, Elegidos del Sol" features Aztec culture. Photo: Inah
At the Palacio Cantón, “Mexicas, Elegidos del Sol” features Aztec culture. Photo: Inah

Mérida, Yucatan — The exhibition “Mexicas, Elegidos del Sol” (“Mexicas, Chosen from the Sun”), presents through more than 100 relics from the central Mexico’s Aztec empire, drawing a connection to Mayan culture.

INAH anthropologist Diego Prieto Hernández said that the Aztec empire, forged through alliances and wars, conquests and blood, represented a people of unification and diversification, of mixtures and migrations, “Contemporary issues that we can view in our most remote past.”

Grouped in five stages, 118 pieces from the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City’s Templo Mayor and Mérida’s Palacio Cantón, sculptures, vases, reliefs, tombstones and ritual objects reveals not only the most relevant characteristics of the Aztec people, it also generates a dialogue between the Mexica and Mayan culture, he said.

The anthropologist stressed that within the framework of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Museum of the Templo Mayor and the 40 years of the Templo Mayor Project, this exhibition opens on the Mexica past, “which is not only the center of Mexico but in all we inhabit in the vast national territory; its symbols have served as threads in the identity of our independent nation and today they are within our eyes in the halls of this iconic palace, too,” said Prietro, who is INAH’s general director.

After highlighting how the institute has presented exhibitions of the highest level in this space, the Palacio Cantón has become INAH’s exhibition platform in the southeast.

“Mexicas, Chosen from the Sun” tells the story of the Aztecs’ pilgrimage from the mythical island of Aztlán, “the place of the herons,” until reaching their definitive settlement, where they founded the great city of Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan was once the largest city in the Americas. Today, its ruins are in Mexico City’s historic center.

From there, visitors learn how the city became the vast empire that dominated much of Mesoamerica under major military campaigns, as well as the importance of religion that encompassed all aspects of life and its relationship to war and the conquest.

The Aztecs were Nahuatl-speaking people who lived in central Mexico in the 14th to 16th centuries. Their tribute empire spread throughout Mesoamerica. The Maya people lived in southern Mexico and northern Central America — a wide territory that includes the entire Yucatán Peninsula — from as early as 2600 BC. Their civilization’s height was between 250 and 900 AD.

Inside the rooms, monumental stone pieces represent the Mexica pantheon, as well as pottery, weapons, obsidian scepters and flint faces that were found in the vicinity of the Templo Mayor ruins.

At the opening of the exhibition Friday were Roger Metri Duarte, Secretary of Culture and Arts of Yucatan, representing Gov. Rolando Zapata Bello; José Enrique Ortiz Lanz, INAH’s National Coordinator of Museums and Exhibitions; José Luis Martínez Semerena, the city’s cultural emissary; Eduardo López Calzada, regional INAH director; Patricia Ledesma, director of the Templo Mayor Museum, and Giovana Jaspersen, Palacio Cantón’s director.

The exhibition can be visited during regular museum hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Entry, 55 pesos, is free to students, teachers and seniors; and free on Sunday to all nationals.

The museum did not announce the closing date of the exhibit.

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