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Finding in 1790 Coatlicue and Piedra del Sol (Sun Stone) monumental monoliths was a relevant factor in the New Spain that contributed to wake among population the need to struggle for freedom and independence, as well as generating interest on rescuing Prehispanic past.


“It was a little call to rebelliousness”: To claim the right to freedom, recognition of origins and veneration of ancient deities became a form of defying Spanish oppression, declared archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma at the conference series that commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Coyolxauhqui monolith discovery, taking place during February 2010 at Templo Mayor Museum.

Excavation to create drainage of the New Spain capital city conducted to the discovery of the first monument: in August 3rd 1790 the Coatlicue was found near where, to present, Zocalo is located. Four months later, Piedra del Sol or Calendario Azteca was discovered, in December 17th.

When findings were taking place here, in Europe Spain suffered attacks from Holland, England and France. Philosophers hit the Iberian country, discrediting the conquest of the Americas, affirming it had no value since they had fought salvage peoples with no culture.

“When Piedra del Sol appears, Spaniards take notice this sculpture is a perfect circle, that days were carved there, that it is a calendar of the Indians. The monolith demonstrated they did not fight a barbaric, but a developed people with notions of time, giving value to their victories”, explained the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) emeritus researcher.

In this sense, Viceroy Revillagigedo, in an effort of justifying his merits, ordered that Piedra del Sol was attached to the eastern belltower of the Cathedral, where it remained for almost a hundred years.

Matos Moctezuma pointed out that Coatlicue did not receive the same acknowledgement from the Spanish Crown; it was exhibited at Real y Pontificia Universidad de Mexico, but people began venerating the sculpture, awakening an interest on the past, a sign of first independent awareness. Friars ordered the monolith to be buried in the yard of the university at early 19th century.

These archaeological findings helped raising interest in Prehispanic past; it was in 1821, when Agustin de Iturbide, Emperor of Mexico, ordered the Aztec goddess to be uncovered again.

The conference series “32 years of Coyolxauhqui” continues every Saturday of February at 10:00 hours, in the Templo Mayor Museum auditorium. Admission is free. The lecture to be presented in February 13th is about conservation of Tlaltecuhtli polychromy.