Ancient Aztec school

Mexican archaeologists reveal ancient Aztec school

Photos  INAH

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Archaeologists in Mexico teamed up with Spain for an ambitious exhibition that showcases dozens of artefacts from an exclusive school for the children of Aztec nobility.

With over 80 priceless pieces ranging from an elaborate altar to a skull encrusted with prehispanic art, the Cultural Centre of Spain in Mexico City is home to an exhibition that is a first in the country.


The Calmecac is an exclusive ancient school and breeding ground of future Aztec leaders. Offering visitors a glimpse of life in the ancient kingdom, this was where well-to-do Mesoamerican youth learnt their craft.


The Calmecac houses the remains of what was once the center of religious and military training of the children of the Aztec ruling class [Credit: INAH]


In 2007, they discovered seven colossal battlements found beneath the floor of the property located at 97 Donceles [Credit: INAH]


They measure 2.40 meters each and specialists assume that they crowned the roof of the pre-Hispanic ceremonial building [Credit: INAH]

"So this was an institution where the children of nobility, generally speaking, were prepared to be future leaders and governors of Tenochtitlan or warriors," said spokesperson for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, Javier Gonzalez.


Flint knives and projectile points, made with translucent green obsidian, found at the site [Credit: INAH]

With priceless pieces dating as far back as 1500 CE now housed in a colonial building funded by the Spanish government, the exhibition is a perfect bridge for Mexico's two diverging histories and its evolving contemporary identity.

"It's a piece of our history. How the museum works is that it is an annex for the Templo Mayor museum which has contemporary pieces after the colony. What we see here is the pre-hispanic part, the colonial part and then the republican part," said exhibition co-ordinator German Rostant.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlan, which once stood on the museum's ground by the waters of Lake Texcoco, is now the heart of the bustling megalopolis of Mexico City.

The Aztec empire, with its capital in modern-day Mexico City, held sway over a large part of Mesoamerica for about a century until the arrival of the Spanish.


Tombstones engraved in bas-reliefs that refer to human dismemberment [Credit: INAH]