Ancient Aztec Facts

Ancient Aztec Facts

The Aztecs, or Mexica as they called themselves, were the elite of a militaristic empire centered at Central Mexico when the Spanish conquistadores landed in America at the beginning of the 16th century. See the fact file below for more information about the Aztec civilization.

  • Aztec” refers exclusively to the people of Tenochtitlan. This city was located on an island in Lake Texcoco . The first ruler was Acamapichtli (1376-1396). He guided early construction of the city. The last and 11th ruler, Cuauhtemoc (1520-1525), who was governing when the Spanish destroyed Tenochtitlan and the Aztec empire ended.
  • Several types of money were in regular use; small purchases were made with cacao beans and larger purchases were made with cotton cloth called quachtli.
  • Parents taught children responsibility, citizenship, and life-skills – harsh punishments were handed out if child disobeyed – children of noble class attended calmecac (school) and the workers’ children attended telpochcalli and were taught occupational skills, warfare, history, good citizenship, religion but girls were trained for marriage.
  • Maize (yellow corn) was main food source along with avocados, tomatoes, tamales, tortillas, vegetables, meat, corn, chili peppers, squash, and chocolate.
  • Children played tlachtli – a ball game for teams much like a combination of basketball and soccer and patolli – a gambling game played with dried beans and pebbles.
  • Harsh laws maintained order where the emperor would act as judge and the citizens would act as the jury.
  • N’ahuatl is a system of hundreds of pictures that created an alphabet and scribes and priests were the only ones who could write.
  • War was a big part of the culture and all boys were trained to fight.
  • Aztecs used two different calendars, one measured time, while the other was used to fix religious festivals.
  • Religion was very important part of Aztec life and music was a huge part of religious ceremonies (and story-telling) – the instruments theyused were shells, rattles, whistles, horns, bells and drums.

List of Aztec Gods

(having many gods and goddesses is called polytheastic)

Chalchiuhtlicue – goddess of the lakes and streams

Chantico – goddess of the hearth

Chicomecoatl – goddess of maize

Coatlicue – goddess for the pain of life

Huehuetectim – god of fire

Huitzilopochtli – god of war, sun and the nation

Mictlantecuhtl – god of the dead

Quetzalcoatl – god of knowledge, creation, priesthood, and wind

Tezcatlipoca – god of magic, war and death

Tezcatlipoca – god of speech and language

Tlaloc – god of rain

Tloque Nahuaque – god of everywhere, the one supreme force, both male and female

Xipe Totec – god of spring and new life, god of suffering

Xochipilli – prince of flowers, god of dawn, dance and love