" A publication with enormous visual impact that also constitutes a useful instrument for Mesoamerican historians and archaeologists and a source of pleasure for those in love with ancient civilizations."�Leonardo L�pez Luj�n, Museo del Templo Mayor
The Aztec Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor precinct in Tenochtitlan, Mexico, destroyed by Hernan Cort�s in 1521, was center stage for the drama of Aztec ceremonial life. The temple served as the setting for colorful displays of highly-energized rituals depicting the relationships between temples and mountains, social groups, and humans and their gods. Writing at the time of the Conquest, Bernal Diaz del Castillo said of these ceremonies that he "saw things never seen before, not even in dreams."
The Aztec Templo Mayor presents fifty-five architectural conceptualizations of the preconquest temple precinct at various stages of development. The Aztec orchestration of space was profoundly influenced by the concept of divine visions received under the auspices of a powerful temporal authority. The Templo Mayor is a concrete manifestation of this unique system of beliefs. Antonio Serrato-Combe�s carefully researched graphic treatments of these architectural spaces are both novel and stunning. Using computer-generated, three-dimensional color imagery, Serrato-Combe presents a series of architectural topics ranging from site-planning principles to details of buildings within the precinct.
While we will probably never know the exact layout of the temple precinct, it is possible to hypothesize by means of contemporary documents and recent archaeological evidence. Through a series of isometric drawings and "x-rays," or sections cut through buildings and open spaces, we can begin to understand how the Aztecs planned their ceremonial center and how it evolved from a scattering of mud and thatch huts to one of the most impressive urban complexes in the world.
Antonio Serrato-Combe is a professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Utah. He lives in Salt Lake City.
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