Aztec Music Culture

Arnd Adje Both

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


1. Prologue

Systematic archaeological excavations in the historical center of Mexico City have unearthed deposits of pre-Columbian building, which formed part of the sacred temple precinct of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (AD 1325-1521). A large number of sound artefacts and music-related objects such as diminutive representations of musical instruments, were found in these temple deposits, revealing the importance of sound and music in the ceremonial life of the Aztecs. Detailed examination of the finds and their archaeological contexts indicated that the finds reflect specific ensembles and their music related to specific cults, and thus represent a true reproduction of Aztec music culture and musical thought (Both 2005a). Apparently, a complex number symbolism, the association of specific instruments and their sounds with individual levels of the spiritual universe, and the meaning of the four cardinal directions and the center of the world, were factors playing a significant role in the Aztec organization of music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-28
Number of pages15
JournalWorld of Music
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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