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Interpreting the Evidence

Aztec Sacrificial Stone, Tizoc, Mexico, 1911

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Aztec Sacrificial Stone, Tizoc, Mexico, 1911 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The Sacrificial Stone, or Sacred Stone of Tizoc, Mexico City. Photograph taken in 1911.
Historical Context
The Sacrificial Stone of Tizoc is six feet in diameter and four feet high.  It was originally built to commemorate Tizoc’s victories over other tribes, but it was later used for human sacrifices.  On the face of the stone is a sun, to which the stone is dedicated.  On the sides of the stone are fifteen pairs of people, Tizoc being one of them.  They are wearing different types of dress and possibly represent the tribes Tizoc conquered.  A canal runs from the center of the stone to the edge of it, which symbolizes the “canal of blood left by Tizoc in his path.”
Essential Question
How does geography influence the development of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the object depicted in this image and explain the role of the environment and culture in the creation of this object.
Historical Challenges
The Sun Stone was originally placed on the main temple in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. It faced south and was painted bright red, blue, yellow, and white. Research what parts of the Sun Stone were painted, and make a small clay model of one section of the Sun Stone, painting it in its original colors.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Find the circumference of the Sun Stone. It is divided into eight equal sections. What would be the length of the outer side of each section?
Science: The Aztecs used herbal medicines to relieve patients’ symptoms. Find out what herbs were used as remedies and what illnesses they relieved.
English Language Arts: Write a myth explaining why Aztecs believed that dead warriors returned as hummingbirds.