By Lynn V. Foster
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Additional info for A Brief History of Mexico
Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City) 18 THE FIRST PEOPLES: PRE-COLUMBIAN MEXICO The myths justified the political order. Rulers embodied the creator gods, their deified ancestors. They wore god emblems on their costumes and communicated with the ancestors during shamanistic trances brought on by autosacrifice and hallucinogens. Their cities often were constructed as cosmograms, or replicas of places of creation—pyramids represented the sacred ancestral mountains and the place where corn was born; the small temple interiors represented caves or entrances to the Underworld, places where rulers communicated with the gods.
The Aztecs moved into the cultural void that ensued—they may even have had something to do with the collapse. According to their origin myths, they were nomadic barbarians at this time and only ended their migrations from the north a century later when they settled in the central Valley of Mexico and received the veneer of civilization by marrying into more noble groups. The Aztecs’ historic myths indicate that in 1345 their nomadic ancestors witnessed an eagle devouring a serpent (a symbol borrowed for the Mexican flag); the sign, according to their patron deity, meant their wanderings had ended, their promised land had finally been reached.
They wore god emblems on their costumes and communicated with the ancestors during shamanistic trances brought on by autosacrifice and hallucinogens. Their cities often were constructed as cosmograms, or replicas of places of creation—pyramids represented the sacred ancestral mountains and the place where corn was born; the small temple interiors represented caves or entrances to the Underworld, places where rulers communicated with the gods. Like the Bible, the creation myths of Mesoamerica explained the genesis of the world and prescribed correct social and political behavior.