Introduction to the Aztecs exhibition

pot in the shape of Tláloc
A pot in the shape of Tláloc, the Aztec rain god. Tláloc is a Nahuatl word that translates as 'He Who Makes Things Sprout'.
Image: Michel Zabe
Source: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes - Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

Canny conquerors
Talented artisans
Heart-stopping rituals
A nasty ending

Aztecs is an exhibition about a highly organised civilisation and the spectacular city it created - Tenochtitlán (pronounced Teh-notch-tit-lan). 

Visit Melbourne Museum from 9 April until 10 August 2014 and discover the Aztecs’ ingenious agricultural technology, bustling trade and array of gods. There are stories of war, the arrival of Spanish explorers, how Cortés the conquistador met Moctezuma the Aztec ruler, and yes, human sacrifice.

Behind the scenes

In developing this exhibition, historians, archaeologists and curators drew on primary sources reflecting Aztec and Spanish perspectives, including accounts from people who lived through the Spanish Conquest.

A lot of knowledge comes from the work of Bernardino Sahagun, a 16th century Spanish priest. His students spoke the local Central American language Nahuatl and interviewed people who had survived the destruction of Tenochtitlán. This collaborative work was published in twelve books known as the Florentine Codex. Such records, together with artefacts and research, reveal different sides of Aztec civilisation and the culture, motives and methods behind the Spanish Conquest.

Aztecs was developed by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in partnership with the National Council for Culture and the Arts - National Institute of Anthropology and History - Mexico, the Australian Museum and Museum Victoria.

Related Resources