Thursday, September 11, 2008

Exploring the history of Mexico City

Diego Rivera´s murals in the National Palace are a marvelous history of the country from 2,000 years ago to the first part of the 20th century. My favorites were his depictions of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec city on the lake in what is now Mexico City.
I´ve read some of the accounts of the Spanish priests and soldiers who were the first Europeans to see it, and they were awestruck by its beauty and organization. They compared its causeways and canals to Venice. Here are more images of the city.

And this is model of what the original temples looked like, based on contemporary depictions.

In the square next to the cathedral, native dancers perform. In the 1970s, excavations in the cathedral square uncovered ruins of the original Aztec temples that occupied the site.

Actually, there were seven Aztec temples built one on top of the other. Since they were built on a lake bed, they were subject to flooding and subsidence, sometimes accelerated by earthquakes. So as a temple sank, a new one was built on top, and you can see the layers in the excavations.

Compared to what the richest country on earth has done to preserve the history and culture of its native people, Mexico has done a marvelous job. Their monuments and museums and archeological sites are numerous and well cared for. True, the North American tribes worked in wood and leather more than in stone, but there does seem to be more respect here for the tradition and contribution. Part of that may just be for political reasons, given Mexico´s large indigenous population. Still, there are parts of Mexico where Mayan temples are as numerous as churches in Italy, and that has come about from a conscious effort.

The big guy behind us brings rain or corn or something else, but he clearly has the power to bring a lot of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment