You are here:Home/Resources/ Highlights from the Collections/ The Ancient Future: Mesoamerican and Andean Timekeeping/ Aztec


Ritual and Solar Calendars

The Aztecs used a 260-day ritual calendar, the >Tonalpohualli. The Tonalpohualli works in the same way as the Maya tzolk’in, with a number from one to thirteen attached to twenty cycling day-names. Although the Aztecs used a 365-day calendar to measure the solar cycle, they referenced it less often than the Maya.

In the following image, each quadrant represents a god surrounded by a serpent. The day signs attached to each god and the disks in the body of each serpent mark the days of the thirteen-day period called the trecena.

Codex Borgia
Based on a page from the Borgia Codex, a manual of ritual and prophecy for priests. From Cyrus Thomas, Notes on certain Maya and Mexican manuscripts, 1884.


Exhibit Items

Mexican calendar stone

Four ages or four “Suns”

Historia de Nueva España

The Aztec Year—and its Months and Days

Codice jeroglifico Troano-americano

La clave jeroglífica aplicada a la conquista de México

Notes on certain Maya and Mexican manuscripts

Drawing is based on an image in the Borgia Codex.