Aztecs - The Ancient Aztecs
The ancient Aztecs were a civilization based in what was Mesoamerica and were one of the dominant groups of the jungle based area in the Gulf of Mexico. The Aztec people were highly religious folks, their myths and legends were an important part of their life, their gods, of which they had many dictated a large part of their life. Equally important to the Aztecs and tied into their religious practises were their calenders, of which they had two. The two calenders had different purposes but both were as important as the other.
Situated in the gulf of Mexico, mesoamerica, the home of the Aztecs was a warm, sticky and dense jungle area, that afforded the Aztecs plenty of raw materials and fresh water. The Aztecs utilised the natural materials and resources available to them, to not only survive but to thrive and build cities, temples and a way of life. The Aztecs weren't the only people living in the area however, and they would share the gulf with other tribes and peoples. War of course would occur, the Aztecs generally took a open minded approach to being the dominant force, but if the olive branch was refused they would not hesitate to enforce their will.
The Aztecs were as we mentioned many things, they were fathers, mothers, children, warriors, traders and farmers. Even though an Aztecs life intent and path would be declared at birth by the midwife, it would not fully decide their final path. Living in Aztec society afforded both men and women plenty of opportunities and options in life.
The Aztec style of architecture was very unique to Mesoamerica, their homes, their temples and the ball courts are just some of the beautiful pieces of Aztec architecture. Read more about the Aztec Architecture >>
The Aztecs had not one but two calenders, a year calender and a ritual calender that would mark the major religious festivals of the year. Read more about the Aztec Calender >>
The life of an Aztec child was very unique, they would be appointed a career at birth and much celebration would occur. Read more about the Aztec Children >>
Aztec clothing was important in all class of Aztec citizen, whether you were a farmer or a noble man or woman. Read more about the Aztec Clothing >>
The Aztec economy was fuelled by the impressive amount of trade, bartering and business that would happen at the Aztec marketplaces. Read more about the Aztec Economy Trade and Currency >>
The Aztec gods were celebrated by the Aztec people, they had a god for nearly everything all born from Ometeotl. Read more about the Aztec Gods >>
Aztec headdresses were an important piece of dress for noble and important Aztec citizens, a headdress would denote your place in the Aztec society. Read more about the Aztec Headdresses >>
Aztec homes were somewhere to sleep and socialise, and if you were lucky you had a steam bath at your home to relax in after a long day. Read more about the Aztec Homes >>
The Aztec people believed in their religion so much that offering up human sacrifices to their gods was their way to appease them. Read more about the Aztec Human Sacrifices >>
As an Aztec you would have a good choice of careers, from warriors to farmers, to weavers and traders. Read more about the Aztec Jobs >>
The Aztec language Nahuatl was the primary language in the gulf of Mexico when the Aztecs lived. Read more about the Aztec Languages >>
Life for an Aztec man would begin as the life of a warrior, although it was common for Aztec men to become farmers, traders, or even priests. Read more about the Aztec Men >>
The ancient Aztec people had really strong religious beliefs, from their many gods to their desire for sacrifice. Read more about the Aztec Religion >>
Aztec women were typically mothers and home keepers, but also weaved and created clothing and Aztec women could even run their own business. Read more about the Aztec Women >>
A quick history of the ancient Aztecs
The ancient Aztec people comes from the Mesoamerica period of time, which spans 22 thousand years starting around 21,000BC and moving all the way to 1521. The Aztecs were a civilisation that populated what is now considered south America and Mexico and they lived near the middle part in the valley of Mexico. This area the Aztecs made their home was bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south.
The Aztecs were thought to have descended from the very early American peoples, the first hunter gatherers in in the area. Along with the many other tribes in the area, like the Mayans, the Aztec people made their home in the dense jungle area in this part of Mexico and together they formed one of the Mesoamerican cultures.
The Aztecs are one of the more successful tribes ever to have existed in the area, the Aztecs had their powerful beliefs and built impressive buildings and temples to reflect this. The Aztec civilisation also had a thriving trade and community, with a farming background and system that kept that successful until the Spanish discovered them.
The entry of the Spanish people into what is now Mexico and was then Mesoamerica spelt the end of the might Aztec civilisation, the Spanish was not endeared with the Aztec way of life, and their love for sacrifice, and slowly they controlled and dominated the Aztec people.
The ancient Aztec people
Of course the most interesting aspect of the Aztec civilisation is its people, the Aztec men and Women who kept this colourful, stylish and ritualistic society going. The Aztecs were like many civilisations, they had hierarchy and social structures, from common people to nobles. They also had their own religion and beliefs, with a wealth of gods for all the important events in their life.
The Aztec gods were headed up by the creator and deity, Ometeotl who was man and woman and creator of the rest of the Aztec gods. From here four gods were created that ruled directions and they were responsible for the rest of the creation of the universe as the Aztecs knew it. Of course to simply the Aztec beliefs that much is a crime, and we have plenty more information available on the Aztec gods later on.
The Aztec people also treasured family, children would be treated carefully and allowed to grow up slowly with an education and a structured life. The Aztec family might live alone or share with other Aztec people, and of course they loved their steam baths and many homes would have their own, where the ancient Aztec folk would relax and unwind after a long day.
For work and business, farming and trading were the big industries. The Aztecs were diligent farmers who had fertile ground which was highly suitable to farming, and the Aztec farmers created what were called chinampas which make crop growing even easier for them. If an Aztec wasn’t farming then perhaps they were trading at the local markets, with beans or tobacco as trading was often a daily part of life for most Aztec citizens. If you needed to find materials, medicine or food and produce then the Tianquiztli, the Aztec marketplace, was the place to be.
The need for sacrifice
It’s impossible to explore the Aztec people without understanding what caused them to have their beliefs. Many would just to the fact that the Aztecs would sacrifice humans and animals to appease their gods and be shocked. To the Aztecs who lived in the wild jungle, with two mighty oceans either side, mother nature would surely make a large impression in ones pyche.
With a life based on farming, a bad crop year could have left the Aztec people in dire situations, who probably over time developed their own reasons, that the gods above who provided rain, thunder and sunshine had either blessed or cursed them. To resolve the issue and appease the gods the Aztec would sacrifice to the gods, they would offer up something of value to ensure the success of their civilisation. In order to do this successfully the Aztecs wanted to get closer to the gods, and soon after the temples would have been built to allow them to achieve this.
The Aztec temples
The Aztec temples are of course something that is easy to associate with this great civilisation. The temples as we mentioned earlier were created to appease the gods, which the Aztecs believed in religiously. The temples themselves would often start life small, and over time would be built over and over until they became the mighty structures we can still witness today.
The greatest of the Aztec temples is the Templo Mayer which was the biggest temple in the city of the Aztecs. This majestic temple was of course built to allow the Aztec priests to offer sacrifice to the mighty gods, and is located in what is now Mexico City.
There was of course many other temples and pyramids built by the Aztecs, and in the city of Teotihuacan, there were many pyramids like the pyramid of the sun and the pyramid of the moon.
Summary of the Aztecs
The Aztecs were one of many interesting mesoamerican peoples, and out of the well known groups, the Aztecs perhaps are most memorable for their love of sacrifices. Of course, this is not all the Aztec people did, they lived normal lives, they taught, they farmed and they traded.
The Aztec people also had a keen visual eye, and a flair for design, their temples and carvings were beautiful creations, and their fashion sense and use of local and colourful materials displayed this.
Eventually the Aztec people were mostly removed from history with the Spanish invasion, forced to move or submit to the Spanish people, the Aztec people still remain in some form today, but their great architecture and history will still live on as long as their temples remain.