London show to examine Aztec ruler Moctezuma

Tue Apr 7, 2009 5:28pm EDT
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By Anna MacSwan

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The British Museum in London is to complete its series of exhibitions on power and empire with an examination of the rule and legacy of Aztec emperor Moctezuma II.

Reigning from 1502 to 1520, Moctezuma was the final ruler of present-day Mexico's last native civilization.

He is remembered for consolidating an empire stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico at a time of flourishing culture, and oversaw the building of a new palace.

Paradoxically, though, he is also associated with foreign conquest by Spaniard Hernan Cortes.

"Moctezuma is ... perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of implosion of power and the clash of civilizations," said Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum.

The museum has already staged shows entitled "The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army," "Hadrian: Empire and Conflict" and "Shah Abbas: The Making of Iran."

The world of Moctezuma will be portrayed through objects drawn from Mexican, European and U.S. collections, ranging from sculptures, gold and mosaic ornaments by artisans employed in the Aztec court to European colonial portraits.

Also on display will be artifacts like the emperor's coronation stone, ceremonial weaponry and architectural fragments from his palace, many of which will be in Britain for the first time.   Continued...