Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mexico City Part 1: Aztec Origins

Eagle Warriors belonged to one of the two most important warrior cults. The Mexica, popularly known as Aztecs, were the most militaristic of the ancient pre-hispanic civilizations. This posting begins my series on Mexico City, and I thought it appropriate to begin with the people who actually founded this great metropolis in the early 14th Century AD. I confess that I have held back on this series for a couple of reasons. One was logistical. We have visited Mexico City twice, in 2010 and again in 2012. During those two visits, I accumulated more than 2000 photos of its wonders. Even sorting through that number of shots is a monumental task, much less sizing, cropping, and adjusting the light and color on each one that is useable. Then, there is the often agonizing process of choosing from among them the 200 or so I will actually display. Finally, there is all the post-adventure research to ensure that my comments will be both insightful and accurate. My second reason for hesitation has to do with the Aztecs themselves. As my regular readers must know by now, I am attracted to what is ancient. However, the Aztecs were relative latecomers on the Mesoamerican scene. I was also a bit put off by their blood-lust. Most of these ancient civilizations practiced some form of human sacrifice, but the Aztecs, as we shall see, practiced it on an industrial scale. However, there was also much that was beautiful and remarkable about their civilization. Even the dark parts were not just mindless cruelty, but related to their beliefs about the nature of the cosmos. All that having been said, here goes! (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Mexica migration legends


The Mexica arrive at their "promised land." The nomadic people who wandered out of the northern wastes never called themselves "Aztec." That was an early 19th Century invention of German explorer Alexander Humboldt. He based the name on Aztlan, the legendary homeland of the Mexica. In the cases of some of the more ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, like Teotihuacan or the Toltecs, we don't know that they called themselves. We only know the names given to them by people who arrived centuries after their great cities were already in ruins. With the Mexica, we have the Spanish historical record telling us that this was the name used by their contemporaries, both friends and enemies, and by the Mexica people themselves. The people shown in the sculpture above have just reached the island in Lake Texcoco where they would found their capital. At this point they were simple, nomadic, hunter-gatherers. They had no experience in urban living, and their only possessions were those that they could easily carry as they migrated from place to place. The obvious wonder and joy they express is the result of a prophesy fulfilled.


Near the Mexica nomads stands a statue of an eagle eating a snake while sitting on a cactus. Over thousands of years, pre-hispanic Mexico experienced recurrent waves of nomadic migrants from the northern deserts. When great empires like Teotihuacan (100 AD-650 AD) arose, they kept the nomads in check. When they weakened, the nomads pushed in and sometimes took over. The first Nahuatl speakers (the language of the Mexica) arrived about the time of Teotihuacan's fall. Its successor, the Toltec State (700 AD-1100 AD), may have been founded by a mixture of those early nomads and Teotihuacan refugees. The Mexica themselves didn't leave their northern homeland of Aztlan until around 1100 AD, and they wandered through central Mexico for more than a hundred years seeking a place to settle. Along the way, one of their chiefs named Tenoch prophesied that when they found an island with an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake, they would know they had reached their destination. The lush shores of Central Mexico's Lake Texcoco looked enticing to these desert nomads. However, there were already large populations of sophisticated, urbanized people living in powerful city-states on the Lake's shores. These people treated the Mexica with contempt, as uncivilized interlopers. Eventually, the nomads sought refuge on an island not far off shore. It was on this island that, to their boundless joy, they spotted the eagle eating the snake. Home at last! In honor of their prophet, the Mexica named their new city Tenochtitlan.


The Toltec Connection

This Mexica "atlantean" figure is almost identical to those found in the Toltec capital at Tollan. At Tollan, much larger atlanteans still stand atop the Temple of the Warriors where they once supported its roof. These figures represent the ideal of the noble warrior. Like the Romans, the Mexica were not so much innovators as imitators and assimilators. They adopted much of their culture almost wholesale from their Toltec predecessors. They then carried out the Toltec ideas to their logical, but often rather grim, conclusions. Of course, the Toltecs themselves incorporated much from their predecessors, the Teotihuacans. The Mexica were aware of Teotihuacan, and called its ancient ruins "The Place Where The Gods Were Born." However, that great empire had fallen 500 years before and was already lost in the mists of time. The Toltecs provided a more recent example to follow, although the temples and palaces at Tollan had already been in ruins for 200 years by the time the Mexica wandered through. The unsophisticated nomads were enormously impressed by Toltec statuary, wall carvings, monuments and other imagery. The nomads felt that if they could emulate these people, they would certainly improve their status in the world. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Mexica imitated the Toltecs with a vengeance. (Photo from Templo Mayor Museum)


This chacmool is another Toltec symbol appropriated by the Mexica. Chacmools are statues related to war, rain, and human sacrifice.This chacmool was found at the Templo Mayor, the chief pyramid of the Mexica at Tenochtitlán, their capital. The Templo Mayor had twin temples on top, one for the rain god Tlaloc, and the other for Huitzilopochitli, the god of the sun and of war. Chacmools may have originated with the Toltecs and many have been found at Tollan. They could also have originated with the Maya, since many have also been found at Chichen Itza, a Maya city with a mysterious and as-yet unexplained relationship to the Toltecs. Chacmools are instantly recognizable. They always appear as a male figure reclining on his back, knees raised and head turned questioningly. The figures always hold a bowl or disk on their stomachs which may have been where human hearts and blood were deposited after a sacrifice. The posture of the chacmool is submissive, very similar to how war captives are often portrayed, and the usual fate of such captives was sacrifice. The figures are most often found in the vestibule of a temple or the palace of a ruler, placed in front of a dias or throne. They are closely related to Tlaloc, the god of rain that the Toltecs adopted from Teotihuacan, and that the Mexicas in turn got from the Toltecs. Regular, dependable cycles of rain were essential to these civilizations, based as they were upon agriculture. Tlaloc, an extremely irascible sort of god, would not be impressed by just any old sacrifice. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


An eagle and a jaguar trade war stories on this Mexica relief sculpture. Carved on the side of a stone seat, both the animals stand in human-like postures. The curved symbols emerging from their mouths represent speech. Another important aspect of the Toltec culture was the warrior cult. The elite among these were the Eagle and Jaguar cults, whose emblems appear at the Temple of the Warriors at Tollan, as well as at similar structures in Chichen Itza. The newly-settled Mexica were treated contemptuously and pushed from hither to yon by their urbanized neighbors. They decided to adopt Toltec-style militarism as the way to improve their status. In doing so, they closely copied the Toltec model of organization, among other things creating their own eagle and jaguar warrior cults. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Carved stone skulls line the sides of the Mexica tzompantli at the Templo Mayor. A tzompantli was a large wooden rack on which hundreds of human skulls were displayed after sacrifice. The racks would have been placed on top of stone pedestals, the sides of which were decorated like the one above. Similar tzompantlis stand adjacent to the Ball Courts at both Tollan and Chichen Itza. Ball games were often associated with human sacrifice, although it is a matter of some dispute whether it was the losing or the winning team that was afforded the honor of decapitation. In the case of the Mexica tzompantli, the skull rack was near the base of the great staircase of the Templo Mayor. Over time, many thousands trudged reluctantly up those stairs to their doom. While the Toltecs may have sacrificed many people in their time--and they were no slouches in this process--the Mexica took human sacrifice to a level never before seen in Mesoamerica. According to the Spanish, Mexica leaders proudly told them that when the Templo Mayor was inaugerated in 1487 AD by the great Emperor Ahuizotl, 1000 people were ritually killed each day over a 20-day period. The Mexica reported that a river of blood flowed down the great staircases of the Templo Mayor and into the plaza. The Nazis of the 20th Century would have been impressed. (Photo from Templo Mayor Museum)


The Role of Human Sacrifice


This great stone disk of Tizoc was the scene of sacrifice by ritual combat. The stone is all one piece and is huge, almost 1.22 m (4 ft) high and 3.05 m (10 ft) in diameter. On top is a great star-shaped carving with a circular pit in the middle, possibly a repository for hearts and blood. All around the sides are panels showing the Emperor Tizoc conquering the warriors of various cities. He reigned in Tenochtitlán and was the seventh Mexica emperor. However, his reign was short (1481 AD-1486 AD) and most of the victories depicted appear to have been achieved by previous rulers. There were various forms of human sacrifice, and one of them was a gladiatorial contest. The warrior being sacrificed would be tethered to the stone disk with a rope. He would then be confronted by five Mexica warriors, all carrying deadly hand weapons lined with razor-sharp obsidian. The victim would be armed with the same weapon, but in place of obsidian would be feathers. On the shelf in the background are statues of Michtlantecuhtli, the god of death and lord of the underworld. Human sacrifice was conducted for both political and religious purposes. Its most obvious political value was to intimidate both external enemies and current allies, as well as to awe the underlying Mexica population. There may also have been a public entertainment value. Huge crowds once gathered to watch Roman crucifixions and gladiatorial contests. In other eras they came to watch people burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition, and hung from the gallows in the US up until the last half of the 20th Century. Demonstrations of power through the spectacle of public executions can a very effective political technique. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Tizoc wins again. The Emperor Tizoc is one on the left and he has the upper hand, quite literally, as he grasps the forelock of his opponent on the right. In Mesoamerican art, those victorious in battle are often shown dragging defeated warriors by their long hair. This is one of the side panels on the giant stone disk. The details of such carvings are always interesting to me. Tizoc carries a round shield, similar to one I will show later in this posting. He wears an elaborate head dress with what appears to be an bird on the front. He also wears a bracelet, a necklace and large ear rings, which in life would all have been jade. Across his chest is a butterfly-shaped breastplate, very similar to that seen on the Mexica atlantean in a previous photo. Such breast plates can also be seen on all the Toltec atlanteans at Tollan's Temple of the Warriors. Tizoc's opponent carries a large club in his left hand and clutches a bundle of arrows with his right, but doesn't brandish either weapon. He looks toward the ground, in a posture of submission. His heart will no doubt end up in the center bowl of the gladiatorial platform stone. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Another sacrifice disk shows an unusual feature. This one has a similar star-burst carved in the top, along with the circular pit in the center. However, extending out from the pit is a groove, apparently to drain off the blood for further use. All this fixation with blood relates directly to Mexica beliefs about  how the cosmos functions. Blood was considered the very essence of life. Huitzilopochitli, the god of both the sun and war, needed to be fed regularly with human blood because he was in a constant struggle to keep the sun moving across the sky and to defeat the forces of darkness. From the Mexica point of view, they were performing a public service with their massive killings. After all, who wouldn't want to ensure that the sun comes up every morning. It was a small price to pay, always assuming you didn't have to pay it yourself. I should note here that what I describe in a few paragraphs of this section is an extremely abbreviated version of a very complex cosmology. Although they certainly had their political agendas in their use of human sacrifice, the Mexica also seem to have genuinely believed in their view of the cosmos. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


An jaguar statue carries a small container for human blood on his back. A container like this may have been used to collect the blood flowing down the drainage slot on the stone disk seen in the last photo. Alternatively, since this piece is rather small to handle the copious amounts of blood from a killing, it may have been used for another sort of blood sacrifice. Sometimes people drew blood from themselves as an atonement or while making a special request of the gods. The person would use the sharp spine from a maguey leaf, or sometimes one from a manta ray, to pierce the tongue or genitals. This would not only produce sacrificial blood, but also excruciating pain. This, in turn, could induce a trance-like state in which the person could make contact with the world of the spirits. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


The skulls of two victims rest among other, less ghastly offerings. The large oval blade in the upper right is typical of the instruments used in the sacrifice process. Obsidian blades can be brought to a sharpness greater than modern surgical scalpels. The individual to be sacrificed would have been grasped by the arms and legs and held down while facing the sky. The priest would slice through the chest with the blade, reach in to pull out the still beating heart, and turn to display it to the waiting crowd before placing it in the bowl of a chacmool or that of a gladiatorial platform stone. The body would then be thrown down the long staircase of the Templo Mayor. Sometimes the skin of the victim was flayed (peeled off) and worn by the priests, symbolizing life emerging from death and corruption. At other times the body might be fed to the animals in the emperor's zoo, or even used in cannibalistic rituals. Resting against the oval blade is a spine used for self-piercing blood sacrifices. Also present are shell beads, jade ear rings, coral, and many smaller, non-lethal offerings.

The only Europeans ever to witness Mexica human sacrifices were the Conquistators. Bernal Diaz del Castillo described how they watched helplessly from afar as the ceremony was performed on some of their own comrades who had been captured in battle:

"The dismal drum of [Huitzilopochtli] sounded again, accompanied by conches, horns, and trumpet-like instruments. It was a terrifying sound, and when we looked at the tall cue[temple-pyramid] from which it came we saw our comrades who had been captured in Cortés defeat being dragged up the steps to be sacrificed. When they had hauled them up to a small platform in front of the shrine where they kept their accursed idols, we saw them put plumes on the heads of many of them; and then they made them dance with a sort of fan in front of  [Huitzilopochtli]. Then after they had danced, the papas [Aztec priests] laid them down on their backs on some narrow stones of sacrifice and, cutting open their chests, drew out their palpitating hearts which they offered to the idols before them."

(Photo from Templo Mayor Museum)


The Warror Cults and Mexica warfare

A full size statue of an Eagle Warrior was found in the ruins of the Templo Mayor in 1978. Eagle Warriors (in Nahuatl: cuãuhtli) wore elaborate costumes over cotton armor. Their open-beaked headdress/helmets were made of painted wood and the entire outfit was decorated with feathers. Along with the Jaguar Warriors, the Eagles were the elite of the Mexica army. They were the best trained, fiercest, and most respected fighters of the empire. Another indication of the Eagle Warriors' special status is that, in the Mexica mythology, eagles were symbols for the god of the sun and war, Huitzilopochitli. Most of the Eagle Warriors came from the nobility, but a commoner could gain membership through battle prowess and especially by capturing prisoners. In fact, a warrior gained much more status from a live prisoner than a dead enemy. Huitzilopochitli was always hungry for blood, famished as he was from the effort of keeping the universe from running off the rails. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


A Jaguar Warrior wore the skin and head of a jaguar as his uniform. Called ocelõtl in Nahuatl, Jaguar Warriors were named after the largest, fiercest, and most cunning animal predator of the Mesoamerican world. Jaguars hunt at night, a fact giving them a special status among the ancients who believed the big cats were connected with the underworld and with Tezcatlipoca, the god of the night sky. The Jaguar Warrior above carries a round shield in his left hand and brandishes the basic Mexica hand weapon in his right, the deadly Macuahuitl. Both the Jaguars and Eagles were intensively trained in its use, much as medieval knights trained with the sword. The basic Macuahuitl was a flat, rectangular paddle about 1 m (3 ft) long with a handle on one end. There were also some longer versions, intended to be wielded with both hands. The edges of the paddle were fitted with razor-sharp obsidian blades. Spanish soldiers who faced warriors wielding a Macuahuitl claimed that they could decapitate a horse with one blow. Like the Eagles, the Jaguar Warriors gained their status by capturing enemies. To become a Jaguar, a soldier had to capture at least 12 opponents in two consecutive battles. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Mexica soldiers were equipped with an extensive armory. While the elite units wore costumes representing their animal totems, the basic soldier wore little clothing other than a loin cloth and sandals.  Some of his weapons are shown above. On the left is a spear, generally about 2.13 m (7 ft) long and tipped with a flat wooden point edged with obsidian, much like a Macuahuitl. These could be thrown or used for stabbing. Next is the bow, about 1.5 m (5 ft) long and capable of firing an arrow as much as 137 m (450 ft). The Mexica also used two other long-range weapons: the sling (not shown) and the atlatl, seen in use by the soldier above. The sling had a range of 198 m (650 ft), even greater than a bow, and was a powerful weapon. It should be remembered that the Hebrew David was supposed to have slain the giant Goliath with just such a sling. The atlatl is a truly ancient weapon, invented long before the bow and arrow. Used properly, it can propel a short spear or dart with much greater force and range than if the weapon was thrown by hand. A Macuahuitl can be seen just under the elbow of the soldier. A soldier might also carry smaller weapons for close fighting such as the hand ax, seen above, or a dagger. For defense, the basic soldiers used relatively small, round shields. As previously noted, the elites protected themselves with cotton armor as well as shields. Notice, in particular, the shield with the yellow and black design next to the Macuahuitl.


Mexica shields were made of perishable materials, so only a few survive. Shields were made of wicker and wood, covered with leather or animal hide as shown above. They were then painted in various designs. Variations of the design shown above appear again and again in the the literature. Apparently these kinds of abstract designs were popular in the Mexica army. Shields were sometimes further decorated with feathers attached to the rims. Wicker shields and cotton armor were adequate defenses against pre-hispanic weapons, and Mexica Macuahuitli and other arms could be used with devastating effect against the empire's opponents. Unfortunately for the Mexica, they could not generally prevail against Spanish armor or weapons made of steel. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


This unidentified obsidian weapon may have functioned like a European halberd. The weapon appears to be a combination of a spear and and a curved ax. That would suggest a similarity to the halberd, a weapon mounted on a long pole and used by European foot soldiers against mounted troops in the 15th and 16th Centuries. I was somewhat puzzled by this weapon, which was unaccompanied by any explanatory sign, because the pre-hispanic world contained no horses or other riding animals, and thus no cavalry or mounted troops to defend against. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Trade and Commerce within the Empire

Mexica and Totonac leaders meet to talk politics and trade. The Mexica diplomat/trader called a Pochteca stands on the left, identified by his typical Mexica shield. The Totonac leader bears gifts and wears a type of head dress which is still worn by indigenous dancers called Quetzalines whom I have seen perform in Puebla State. Some 60,000 Totonac-speaking people still live in Mexico's Gulf Coast area, and as far inland as Puebla. Their civilization once extended all the way down the Coast to the Maya areas bordering the Yucatan Peninsula. However, by the time of the Spanish arrival, the Mexica had extended their control over much of this area and many Totonac city-states paid regular tribute to the empire. The Mexica did not usually lay waste to cities they conquered, nor even station troops there when they moved on. They allowed the local people to administer and police themselves, but required regular delivery of tribute consisting of the community's best products, including people for sacrifice. This, of course, was not popular within the conquered areas and resulted in periodic revolts. However, the establishment of the empire did promote trade and commercial activity. (Photo from the Diego Rivera murals at the National Palace)


The Pochteca transported high-value goods throughout the empire. Pochteca were Mexica traders and merchants who traveled throughout the empire and beyond. Given the lack of draft animals in Mesoamerica, everything had to be carried by the trader or by his servants. Goods therefore needed to be relatively light and compact. These might include conch shells which could be made into trumpets, jade jewelry, and copper axes as seen above. Other suitable items might include cacao beans, (sometimes used as currency as well as to make chocolate), obsidian blades, and beautifully woven cloth. The Pochteca were commoners, but achieved a higher status than any other non-nobles. They organized themselves into guilds and lived in their own neighborhoods. They even had their own god, Yacatecuhtli, who was the patron of trade. Because they traveled throughout the empire, and to other places not under Mexica control, they were also used as an intelligence network. The Pochteca were also trained as warriors, and needed to be, because they were sometimes attacked by people who viewed them--and rightly so--as an arm of the Mexica oppressors. These traders were important enough to the Mexica State that their traveling parties were sometimes protected by military escorts, if the threat was great enough. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


The great tianguis of Tenochtitlán was a market of amazing diversity. Tianguis is the Nahuatl word for street market, and many are still held all over Mexico, 500 years after Cortés first saw this one when he entered the Mexica capital. The Spanish were astounded by the variety, quantity, and quality of goods flowing into the seat of the empire from all points of the compass. The Mexica viewed Tenohtitlán as the center of their world, and the Pochteca saw the tianguis as the center of Tenochtitlán. The original tianguis was located in an area southwest of the Templo Mayor called Tlatelolco. In the background above, you can see Tenochtitlán spreading out into the distance, dotted with pyramids and temples. The tianguis above looks like many I have visited, except for the clothing of the participants. (Photo from the Diego Rivera murals at the National Palace)


Toy wooden boats indicate the importance of this form of transportation to the Mexica. Living on an island as they did, water transportation was essential. Some goods could come by road and over the several causeways that led into the city. However, water transportation enabled a Pochteca to transport goods more quickly and economically among the various communities lining the shores of Lake Texcoco. As they approached the city for the first time, the Spanish reported seeing great fleets of such boats plying the areas around Tenochtitlán. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Two Mexica barter over maiz, using cacao beans as money. This painting provides a good sense of the clothing and adornment of Mexica merchants and their customers, as well as the interactions between them. Although modern, urbanized people now think of maiz (corn) as uniformly yellow, it was not originally that way. Maiz came (and in a few places still comes) in a wide variety of colors and possessed different qualities, depending on where it was grown and how it was cultivated. Most of this variety has been lost to the standardization techniques of modern agribusiness. Cacao beans had intrinsic value as the source of the luxury drink we know as chocolate. However, because of their small and relatively uniform size, they could function as a medium of exchange. Other kinds of currency included small copper bells, jade beads, and feathers. (Detail from the Diego Rivera murals at the National Palace)


The Famous "Aztec Calendar"

The huge "Aztec Calendar" dwarfs visitors to the National Anthropological Museum. I used the quotes because, contrary to popular belief, it is apparently not a calendar at all. This carved stone disk is one of the most widely recognized symbols of Mexico. It was discovered in 1790 during construction at Mexico City's main plaza, called the Zocalo. The disk weighs 24 tons and is about 3.7 m (12 ft) across. There are various theories about the purpose for which the stone was created. An early theory proposed a calendar, and that seems to have stuck with the public regardless of more recent archaeological interpretations. In fact, there are date glyphs within some of the concentric rings on the stone, and also some symbols relating to the five ages the Mexica believed the world has passed through since its beginning. However, the most recent theory is that the disk had political and religious functions. Politically, it may have represented a reaffirmation of the Mexica capital as the center of the universe. The stone, according to this interpretation, marks the actual geographical center of the world. As usual in the Mexica world, politics related to religion, and vice versa. Just as the stone marks the center of the world, politically and geographically, the center of the stone disk itself glorifies the sun god Tonatiuh, who ruled the fifth (or current) age. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


Detail of the disk showing the face of Tonatiuh. One of the things I find most baffling about the well-populated pantheon of Mexica gods is how often they overlap one another. This may be a product of the Mexica's hodge-podge assimilation of the cultures of others. We have already met the fearsome Huitzilopochitli, god of war and the sun, whose symbol was the eagle. Meet Tonatiuh, who shares those same attributes. Unfortunately, they are not simply the same god with two names, but are definitely two different gods, with different histories. I have been unable to find any explanation for this strange overlap, other than that they are "related" to one another. To the Mexica, both were immensely important deities who were making desperate efforts to keep the sun moving across the sky, thus requiring constant refreshment with human blood. Currently prevailing archeological opinion is that the actual use of the stone disk was for gladiatorial sacrifice rituals, similar to the other stone disks seen earlier. Above, Tonatiuh's rather skeletal face peers out, while his tongue drapes down his chin. It is believed that the tongue represents a sacrificial knife. The sun god's two hands extend out from each side of this head, holding human hearts. Also surrounding his head are four boxes containing symbols that represent the four previous ages replaced by the one now ruled by Tonatiuh. Just to further confuse the matter, some archaeologists believe that the image in the center is not Tonatiuh at all, but Tlaltecuhli, an earth monster who had a role in the Mexica creation myth. Have you got all that? And remember, there are dozens of Mexica gods, each with its own history and attributes, all arranged in a complex hierarchy of importance. (Photo from National Anthropological Museum)


A member of an Aztec dance troupe performs for the crowd near the Templo Mayor. Many of these troupes take great pains to accurately model their costumes from historical records and sketches made by Spanish soldiers and priest, as well as the Mexica themselves. In my next posting, I will continue with my examination of the Mexica culture, showing their beautiful art, jewelry, and other artifacts, as well as the ruins of the great Templo Mayor.

This completes Part 1 of my Mexico City series. I welcome and encourage your comments and any corrections. If you would like to comment, please do so in the Comments section below or email me directly.

If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim

3 comments:

  1. Jim, a nice bloody adventure into times past in our lovely Mexico. Sometimes I wish I could have been there. Get the camera out. Do a few portraits. Get my beating heart ripped out...well maybe not. Great topic with Day of the Dead coming up to get us in the mood. I miss you my friend. All the best to Carole. You have a birthday in a few days and I wish I were there to celebrate it again with friends as we have in the past. My best wishes! Keep it up. Tu amigo - Jay Koppelman

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  2. Very interesting archeological information. Amazing stone carvings. I believe I'm seeing the background story as to why skulls are such a part of the Day of the Dead ceremonies.

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  3. The God of war Huitzilopochitli means Humming bird of the south.....

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If your comment involves a question, please leave your email address so I can answer you. Thanks, Jim