Information on the Aztec Calendar Often referred to as the Aztec Cosmos The Great and Venerable Mechanism of the Universe It is a 26 ton monolith that was found buried face down near what was once a corner of the ceremonial center of Tenochititilan (Now , Mexico City.) The stone was carved with symbols depicting the Aztec universe, calendar, history, and lore. It was determined to have been sculpted in the 1400’s. Only one face of the entire stone was damaged. While many Indians came to accept the new religion brought by the Spanish, the old rituals and beliefs were not so easily erased. A sacred period of time to the Aztecs was 52 years at which time they held a special ceremony. The stone when found was not colored but, probably was created originally in color. The Aztecs did not have an alphabet. They used a set series of letters or signs (pictographs) to form the elements of a written language. They used hieroglyphs (glyphs) to represent or express an idea. Those glyphs depict names, places, numbers, and objects. The outer ring of the stone represents the universe that surrounds the earth. This is represented by the pictograph of 2 fire serpents. The four past suns in the next ring represent the Earth’s four previous epochs. They could refer to things like the Ice Age – catastrophes survived by the Earth. One represents wind (upper left), one represents sky (upper right), one represents rain (lower left), and one represents water (lower right). The fifth sun, the era we are now around the central face. The central face is an image of controversy. Maybe it is the face of the current sun or the night sun (sunset). No one knows for sure. There is a twenty day calendar represented by the ring with 20 symbols. It runs counterclockwise. Each symbol can be looked up on the web to determine its meaning. This calendar system creates a 260 day year. They believed in both the 260 day year and the 365 day year. The cogs of these two wheels only coincided once every 52 years. To them, this was a magical and notable connection. http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/montalvo/Hotlist/aztec.html These sites offer a list and a brief description of each day symbol and other symbols on the Aztec Calendar. http://www.azteccalendar.com/introduction.html Suggested Lesson Sequence: 1. Read and discuss the information provided about the Aztec Calendar. Take notes. 2. View the examples. Point out features noted in the information phase. 3. Have students to read about the different glyphs for the days. Ask them to choose one of the glyphs that they identify with – personality traits, etc. 4. Use dictionary.com to define mandala and concentric. 5. Ask students to design a concentric circle mandala calendar featuring their favorite glyph in the center and using other glyphs of choice to orchestrate the remaining component parts of the mandala design. 6. Cut out large circles of blueboard styrofoam (3’to4’). Draw the image with marker and paint with oil pastels. Make homemade compasses with markers and yarn to draw the concentric circles. Use brilliant colors like the Aztec would have.
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