Remains of the Aztec Civilization

Many descriptions of Aztec life exist. Some Aztec records survived the Spanish conquest. Other accounts were written shortly after the conquest by Aztecs, conquistadores, and missionaries. Much of this information was ignored until William H. Prescott rekindled interest in the Aztecs with his History of the Conquest of Mexico (1843). Since then archeologists and historians have learned much about the Aztecs. Among the best-known Aztec ruins are Tenayuca, Tepotzitlán, Teopanzolco, Calixtlahuaca, and Malinalco.

Many archeological excavations have been made in Mexico City. The city's main plaza, known as the Zócalo, covers what was the main square of Tenochtitlán. The Aztec Stone, one of the most famous examples of Aztec stone carving, was found there in 1790. (It was originally called the Aztec Calendar Stone because it was mistakenly assumed to be a calendar.) In 1926 a stone model of a temple was found beneath the National Palace, built on the ruins of Montezuma II's palace. Archeologists recovered thousands of additional objects during excavations for a Mexico City subway system, which were begun in the late 1960's.

Many artifacts have been unearthed over the years at the site of the main Aztec temple, located behind the Cathedral of Mexico City. These finds were usually made accidentally in the course of excavations for construction projects. In 1978, however, archeologists began a comprehensive excavation on the site of the temple's ruins. Many sculptures, sacrificial offerings, and other artifacts were discovered. Many of these and other relics are preserved in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.