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The Mighty Aztecs: Rediscovering a lost culture

By: Ashleigh Harrington, Category: At The Museum, Date: 16 Sep 2015

Who were the Mexihcah?

Detail of an Aztec Eagle Warrior

Detail of an Aztec Eagle Warrior
Photographer: Michel Zabe © The Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH)

The rich and brutal history of the Aztec culture re-entered the limelight and captured the public’s imagination in the Museum’s school holiday blockbuster exhibition, Aztecs.

Featuring more than 200 sacred cultural objects generously lent from Museums throughout Mexico, the exhibition provided a fascinating insight into the ways of life, beliefs and sacrificial rituals of the Aztecs. The richness and depth of the Aztec exhibition captured a vast audience, but for those keen to engage in the content and track the birth of modern Mexico, this rare opportunity has not been missed.

This series of videos with ABC Splash showcases the highlights of the Aztecs exhibition and explores this significant and somewhat mysterious culture. Exhibition Project Coordinator Fran Dorey leads us through the emergence of the Aztecs as a dominant culture to their demise at the hands of the infamous Cortes.

The series starts from the very beginning with ‘Mighty Aztecs’ highlighting the rather obscure tribe from a yet to be discovered homeland growing into the dominant society of the Mexico area that has been documented in our history books. From here we move on to discover the belief system of this curious culture focusing heavily on the worship of these varied deities as an integral part of everyday life. Capturing the power of these gods and the influence they have over individuals this video displays the role of the gods as both creators and destroyers, embodying the duality at the heart of Aztec belief.

The Aztecs not only had intriguing religious values, their everyday life was filled with an array of colours, resources and systems which reflect a high functioning and war-driven society. Students explore life in Tenochtitlan discovering everything about daily life from political systems to indulgent leisure activities. Not to be forgotten, the Aztec’s art features with a focus on their vibrant yet simple pottery and their system of writing with symbols.

The series wraps up with the demise of the Empire, a topic known by many due to the infamous nature of the event and the conqueror who instigated it. With ‘Contact and Conquest’ viewers are taken through events from Cortes’ first contact to the war that brought an end to the Aztec culture.

To see the Aztec culture explained head to The Mighty Aztecs on ABC Splash.

We would like to thank ABC Splash, 3M Australia and Fran Dorey.