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Artifacts Used in Aztec History

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.

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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 used to apply color and ink to paper, cloth, pottery, and the human form, as well. Inks were made of local herbs, ranging in color and texture.
In many cases, the stamp may show images of religion, local sights, god-figures, nature, or family, among others. This artifact in question consists of a multitude of lines and squiggles, resembling water or air, along with other parts of nature. Name: Pipe Catalog #: 30. 0/ 1812 Museum: American Museum of Natural History This piece is from the Post-Classic Aztec period, constructed between 1000 and 1521 CE. It is made of clay and has been polished to create an artistic sheen. The pipe (among others) was donated by Dr.
Herbert Spinden after his expedition to Latin and Central America during his time working for the Museum of Natural History. During Aztec history, pipes were used for the ritual consumption of tobacco and herbs during household and community ceremonies. Much of the time, tobacco was either chewed or smoked, but smoke was also used to kill insects during harvest, or as a mild antiseptic. Tobacco use has been a key ingredient in the history of shamanism in Latin America, as well – along with the social life of everyday Aztec men and women.

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