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Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan re-created in 3D

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An artistic project by Thomas Kole, a Dutch born Technical Artist, has published a detailed recreation of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.

The project, called “A portrait of Tenochtitlan, a 3D reconstruction of the capital of the Aztec Empire”, is the result of 1.5 years of study, in which a team of specialists have used open-source software such as Blender, Gimp, and Darktable, to bring Tenochtitlan back to life how it looked in AD 1518.

“Not much is left of the old Aztec – or Mexica – capital Tenochtitlan. What did this city, raised from the lake bed by hand look like? Using historical and archaeological sources, and the expertise of many, I have tried to faithfully bring this iconic city to life,” said Kole.

Tenochtitlan was situated on a raised islet in the western side of Lake Texcoco, which is now the historic part of present-day Mexico City.

Image Credit : Thomas Kole – CC BY 4.0

The altepetl (city) was founded by the Mexica, a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, who entered the Basin of Mexico after the decline of the Toltec civilisation. The Mexica transformed the islet using the chinampa system, creating rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds.

The settlement experienced rapid growth, evolving into a formidable city-state and becoming an integral part of the Triple Alliance alongside Texcoco and Tlacopan.

Over time, Tenochtitlan asserted its dominance, effectively becoming the rulers of the alliance. They expanded their influence by conquering neighbouring city-states, and establishing an empire largely sustained by an imperial tribute system.

Image Credit : Thomas Kole – CC BY 4.0

Tenochtitlan was meticulously planned with a symmetrical layout, encompassing four distinct zones that covered an expanse of 3,212 acres. Each zone was subdivided into 20 calpulli (districts), interconnected by a network of tlaxilcalli (streets) leading to extensive causeways connecting to the mainland.

Within each calpulli, a central tiyanquiztli (marketplace) was situated, accompanied by various residences and workshops for artisans such as weavers, sculptors, and potters. At the centre was a large ceremonial complex containing public buildings, temples, and palaces.

“Large buildings stand out against the single-story houses, from the massive twin-temple pyramids in the centre, to the smaller temples and shrines in neighborhood community centres. The Sacred Precinct, with the Templo Mayor, forms the epicenter of the city. Next to it is the palace of Emperor Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, among various other temples, schools, gardens, and a zoo,” said Kole.

Image Credit : Thomas Kole – CC BY 4.0

Upon the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the year 1519, Tenochtitlan had reached its zenith, boasting an estimated population ranging from 200,000 to 400,000 residents.

The inhabitants were swiftly exposed to diseases for which they had no natural immunity. This devastating outbreak led to a significant population decline, with estimates indicating that over 50% of the region’s people fell victim to smallpox.

The Spanish conquistadors, supported by a coalition of indigenous tribes and formerly tribute-paying city-states, besieged Tenochtitlan for a period of 93 days. Ultimately, on August 13, AD 1521, the Mexica surrendered, heralding the onset of Spanish dominance in central Mexico.

Visit “A portrait of Tenochtitlan” by Clicking Here

Header Image Credit : Thomas Kole – CC BY 4.0

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Archaeology

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

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Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.

According to the researchers, the structure holds important religious significance, suggesting it might have been erected to venerate Blessed Irmgard (also known as Irmengard), the daughter of King Louis the German and the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne.

During the mid-9th century, Irmgard was appointed the first abbess of Frauenwörth Abbey, who restored the decaying premises and founded a Benedictine convent for nuns. Because of her royal ancestry, she had the right to wear a thin golden hoop resembling a crown, often depicted on paintings and frescoes with her image.

Following her death in 866, Irmgard was venerated and her head reliquary was translated to Seeon Abbey in 1004. She was officially beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, and a celebratory ceremony in 2003 saw her relics reunified.

A recent geophysical study to locate the demolished remains of the Church of Saint Martin has revealed the imprint of a Romanesque structure completely absent from all historical text and contemporary maps.

Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

The structure is buried at a depth of 1 metre and measures 19 metres in diameter. The GPR results reveal the floor plan of an octagonal central building with an ambulatory formed by eight supports and four arrange in a cross shape.

Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation notes that religious structures with pre-Romanesque or Romanesque architecture, particularly those with sacral significance, are exceedingly uncommon north of the Alps. Such edifices are often perceived as imitations of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

According to the researchers, the structure was likely built during the construction of the new monastery and Romanesque abbey church (of which the gatehouse and bell tower survive to this day) to venerate Irmgard as a destination for pilgrims

Header Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

Sources : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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