Artifacts Used in Aztec History

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Artifacts Used in Aztec Households in Mexican History
Kelly Ferguson
Anthropology 201

Name: Obsidian Blade
Catalog #: 30 / 922 A
Museum: American Museum of Natural History
During Aztec history, obsidian was used in various ways, such as cutting cloth, hide, and wood. The Aztecs also made efficient weapons and cutting tools, because obsidian flakes into sharp glassy edges when reworked. When used as knives, obsidian was usually embedded in a wood handle to protect the wielder. These knives were used in auto-sacrifice, or “blood letting”, a ritual where a person would cut themselves and drip blood to honor ancestors or gods. Obsidian is one of the sharpest natural minerals in the world, and is even sharper when reworked into an edge. Obsidian was an important part of life in Mesoamerican history – in many ways, it helped build the economy there. It was a vital part of the trade and distribution of goods in Latin America. Variations of this reworked stone have been found in almost every Aztec archeological site and ruin, usually reshaped into a tool or figurine. Eventually, carvers began to make a new variety of obsidian objects – jewelry, figurines, ear-spools, pokers, etc. This artifact, among others, was donated by M.H. Saville to the museum in 1896.

Name: Stamp
Catalog #: 30.2/ 8763
Museum: American Museum of Natural History
This artifact, a Mesoamerican clay stamp, is from the Post-Classic Aztec period, sometime between 1000-1521 CE. It was constructed from clay and reworked to create a design of waves and lines. This stamp specifically was donated by an anonymous donor as a gift to the museum in 1947. These clay stamps were molded and then baked to harden – afterwards, they were distributed across Mexican households of different social-economic status. For much of history, stamps have been used as a way of identifying a family or social group, along with a business or governmental body. In the Aztec world, stamps were...
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