In the above photograph is shown a Calendar Stone, also called Sunstone. The carvings in the stone represent the four cycles of creation and destruction. The skull at the center depicts the god Tonatiuh, the fifth sun. A similar sunstone is at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.


Most of the astronomical beliefs of the Aztecs of central Mexico are known from the existing literature, in particular from a work written at the time of the conquest called Codex Mendoza. There are many Aztec monuments that prove the intense observation by the Aztecs of the movements of the Sun in the sky, especially in coordination with those of Venus. Pillars, doors and windows of stone monuments were clearly aligned on sunrise and sunset at the solstices.

According to the Aztecs, the universe was composed of several cosmic eras. Aztecs believed that four suns had been created in four previous ages, and all of them had died at the end of each cosmic era. Tonatiuh was the fifth sun and the present era is still his. His name meant "He Who Goes Forth Shining" because he was the first moving sun. The solar deity Tonatiuh was responsible for supporting the universe.

His weakness could bring the end of the world. Human sacrifices were regularly offered to the solar deity to nourish the god and maintain his strength. Tonatiuh was also in charge of the Aztec Heaven called Tollan, where only dead warriors and women who died in childbirth could enter.

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