Article

Creation and Cosmology

Karl A. Taube

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195390933.013.0055

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Creation and Cosmology

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This article discusses gods and mythic origins in ancient Mesoamerican thought. In ancient Mesoamerican thought, the creation and maintenance of the ordered world was only achieved through a concerted effort by the gods, a weighty responsibility that continued through the sacrificial offerings and rituals of mortals. The myths and behavior of gods not only explained the origins of the world but also served as models for human behavior for commoners and elites alike. Given the time depth and many cultures of Mesoamerica, it is not surprising that there is an extensive and complex array of deities and myths pertaining to this region. Some myths, such as the Aztec (or Mexica) episode of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, are unique to a particular time, place, and people. However, certain cosmogonic episodes and types of deities are particularly salient, making it possible to discuss broad and basic patterns of belief. Among these, the relation of events of creation to calendrical cycles is fundamental, both in terms of ordering the world and, as such, timed moments and in socially replicating and reifying the original acts of deities in the world of mortals.

Keywords: Ancient Mesoamerican thought; myths; Aztec; gods; creation; calendrical cycles

Article.  5316 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region

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