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Interpreting the Evidence

Image of Huitzilopochtli, Aztec God of War, c. 1900

  • 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 Image of Huitzilopochtli, Aztec God of War, c. 1900 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A stone image of the Aztec God of War, Huitzilopochtli, Mexico City. Photograph taken circa 1900.
Historical Context
Huitzilopochtli (Blue Hummingbird on the Left) was the Aztec god of war and the sun.  He was the son of Coatlicue. To protect his mother, he killed his sister, Coyolxauhqui, and threw her head into the sky, where it became the moon.  Huitzilopochtli was shown with a blue face and body and with hummingbird feathers on his head and left leg.  Aztecs believed dead warriors came back to life as hummingbirds.
Essential Question
In what ways does art depict the values of a culture?
Check for Understanding
Describe the object in the photograph and explain the cultural significance 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.