Achievements Of The Aztecs

The term “Aztec” originates from “Aztecah,” which translates to “people from Aztlan.” Aztlan is a mythical location that was believed to be the ancestral home of the Aztecs. The Aztecs established themselves in the Valley of Mexico, creating one of pre-Columbian America’s largest and most influential empires.

The Aztecs were not only strong militarily but also had great expertise in engineering. They constructed the impressive city of Tenochtitlan on challenging terrain. They have accomplished remarkable feats in engineering, such as building a double aqueduct, a large dike, causeways, and manufactured islands.

These are the greatest achievements of the Aztecs. 

The aztec were the first to provide universal compulsory education to all children:

Aztec education was highly advanced compared to other civilizations in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The Aztec Empire was among the early civilizations requiring education in households and schools. Regardless of social status, every young person received an education, whether they were of noble birth, commoners, or even enslaved people. The noble class had two schools: one for nobles and another for commoners. However, exceptionally bright and intelligent commoners could be chosen for advanced studies in the aristocratic school.

In contrast, the education system of the Aztecs started in the home environment under the guidance of their parents. So, In the past, young boys would begin learning and assisting their fathers in various trades, such as farming, hunting, fishing, and other crafts, at the age of four or five. In the past, their mothers taught girls all the necessary tasks to run a household.

The Aztec Empire is known for being the first to establish mandatory education for all citizens. All children received an education, regardless of their social status, whether noble, commoner, or enslaved. During a certain period, all kids were required to attend school between the ages of 12 and 15. At school, they were taught ceremonial music as well as the history and culture of their society. Male and female students attended different educational institutions.

 It was common for girls to finish their formal education by age 15. After reaching age 15, boys were divided into two schools based on their family’s income: the Telpochcalli for those with low incomes and the Calmecac for the aristocracy. The curriculum of Telpochcalli was mainly focused on military education, but it also included teachings on civics, history, and religion. At Calmecac, military training was combined with instructions in faith, history, astronomy, architecture, governance, math, poetry, and other subjects.

They had a base 20 number system and a calendar with two cycles:

The Aztecs used a vigesimal or base 20 number system for counting. To represent numbers up to 20, dots or a mixture of beads and bars were used. A flag was utilized to represent the number 20 and was duplicated to indicate numbers up to 400. In ancient times, a fir tree symbolized the number 400, and a sack was used to represent the number 8000. It is still being determined if they had a symbol for zero, despite having a grasp of the concept. In their system, 0 was unusual. 

The Aztecs knew multiplication, division, and certain geometric concepts. Their standard unit of linear measurement was a land rod, equivalent to approximately 2.5 meters.

Recent research has found that symbols such as arrows, hearts, hands, and bones were used to indicate fractional distances when measuring land areas. The Aztecs used two different cycles to measure time: the xiuhpohualli (year count), which had 365 days, and the tonalpohualli (day count), which had 260 days. These two cycles combined form a “century” lasting 52 years. 

The agricultural calendar is called xiuhpohualli, whereas the sacred calendar is called tonalpohualli. One of the noteworthy accomplishments of the ancient Aztec civilization is widely acknowledged. Here you can read about the What Is The Name Of Spain’s Longest River

The aztec had a rich tradition in poetry and sculpture:

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Aztec civilization, centered in Tenochtitlan, dominated Mesoamerica. As the Aztec culture expanded through military conquest and trade, its art spread, assisting it to achieve hegemony over its subjects and leaving a record of the artist’s artistic vision and talent. This was a noteworthy accomplishment of the Aztec civilization in ancient times.

In Aztec society, the most prestigious art forms were poetry and song, and competitions were held during major festivals. Their poetry features parallelism, using embedded couplets to express diverse perspectives on the same material. The Aztecs passed down their poetry orally and only created compilations after the Spanish conquest. “The Romances of the Lords of New Spain” is the most renowned. The Aztecs utilized musical instruments such as flutes and drums. They were skilled at creating various sizes of sculptures, from stone and wood, from small figurines to massive monuments. There are several famous Aztec statues, but the Sun Stone is the most prominent. The Aztecs were known for their exceptional pottery, which was highly sought after in Mesoamerica. 

 They crafted jewelry from jade, silver, copper, gold, and obsidian materials. Their most cherished art form was featherwork, where artists wove vividly colored feathers into cloaks, headdresses, and other things.

They engineered the massive dike to protect their city from the surrounding water:

In its early history, Aztecs constructed canals and causeways to transport goods. A causeway is a raised road that provides a dry pathway across wet and marshy terrain. There were three big causeways connecting the island metropolis to the mainland. The causeways and bridges allow small boats and canoes to pass. In an attack on the city, these bridges are vulnerable to destruction.

In an attack on the city, these bridges are vulnerable to destruction. The channels served as waterways, enabling fast boat transportation through the expansive city. The town was designed in a grid system, making navigation easy.

The surrounding water constantly threatened Tenochtitlan, located on the largest of five interconnecting lakes. During the mid-1400s, a severe flood almost destroyed the entire city. The Aztecs constructed a 10-mile, 12-foot dike from the southern to the lake’s northern shore to address the issue. Achievements Of The Aztecs.

At the time, it was the largest earthwork in the Americas, constructed from wood, weeds, and stone. It stands as a remarkable feat of the ancient Aztec civilization. The tank behind it had doors that could be raised or lowered to control the water level. The dike protected Tenochtitlan from floods and prevented salty water from entering east of the dam.

They had great knowledge of medicine and they could perform surgery:

The Tictils, who were Aztec physicians, were skilled in using herbs for medical purposes and were known for their research in the field. The Aztecs believed illnesses were caused by angry deities or goddesses, enemy black magic, or genuine causes. The Aztecs believed diseases were caused by angry deities or goddesses, enemy black magic, or natural causes.

They hired Maguey tree sap as a cleaner and wound healer and Argemone Mexicana as a pain reliever. The Aztecs utilized blades made of volcanic glass for surgical procedures. To prevent fractures, medical practitioners used traction, counter traction, and splints to immobilize them. Crushed plants were often used to cover surgical wounds for faster healing.

They had extensive knowledge of plants and animals that have psychoactive properties. They were employed not only for prophetic and religious purposes but also for medical purposes. Passionflower was used during surgeries as an antispasmodic drug to help relax muscles.

Among Nahuatl-speaking individuals in the Aztec region of central Mexico, Aztec medicine focuses on knowledge, ideas, and practices surrounding health and illness. The Aztecs had extensive knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants and utilized them effectively. 

Aztec remedies, chants, practical administration, and cultural roots are described in indigenous Nahua and Novohispanic literary texts from the earliest and later colonial eras. Modern Nahua communities still practice traditional medicinal beliefs, often with mixed European or other influences.

The aztec city of Tenochtitlan was one of the greatest cities of the time:

At one point, Tenochtitlan held the title of the biggest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. The city was estimated to have a population ranging from 200,000 to 300,000, and its size was estimated to be between 8 to 13.5 km2. It was one of the largest cities in the world, with a population twice that of London or Rome. 

The city was partitioned into four zones and divided into twenty district divisions. The most sacred Precinct was located in the city’s heart and enclosed by the “coatepantli” wall, covering nearly 4,000 square meters (43,000 square feet).

The main attraction of the Sacred Precinct was the Templo Mayor, a 60-meter-high pyramid with a foundation measuring roughly 100 by 80 meters. The Templo Mayor was the most important religious building of the Aztecs. Templo Mayor was one of Tenochtitlan’s most beautiful and well-built structures at the time, with roads, causeways, canals, bridges, marketplaces, and palaces. So, Upon the Spaniards’ initial visit, they questioned the authenticity of the place, wondering if it was real or a dream. Achievements Of The Aztecs.

They constructed a double aqueduct to bring fresh water to Tenochtitlan: Achievements Of The Aztecs

The need for freshwater also grew with the increase in Tenochtitlan’s Aztec population. The water level at Tenochtitlan was only 4-5 feet deep, and the collected water was salty. As a result, there were alternative sources of clean water available. People dug shallow wells to obtain water for their daily household needs. An aqueduct was constructed in 1418 to carry fresh water from Chapultepec Springs to Tenochtitlan, suitable for drinking and cooking. 

They began building the Chapultepec aqueduct in the 1420s to transport fresh water to their city from the springs on the mainland of Chapultepec. The trench was split into two channels, each measuring 5 feet in height and 3 feet in width. While one medium was being maintained, the other provided a steady water supply to the city.

So, The Chapultepec aqueduct was constructed to provide Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, with drinkable water. The source of water utilized for this project was the Chapultepec springs. The Aztecs built two aqueducts in the 15th century, but both were destroyed. The first was damaged by flooding, and the Spanish conquered the second. Achievements Of The Aztecs.

After the Spanish conquest, a colonial trough was built. Its ruins can be found near Metro Sevilla. The Chapultepec aqueduct, which spanned three miles, provided water to public fountains and reservoirs. It was an impressive accomplishment for the Aztecs to create such a sophisticated aqueduct, a skill not widespread in ancient civilizations.

The aztec were highly skilled engineer:

Tenochtitlan was founded by the Aztecs in 1325 on a small, swampy island in Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs faced significant structural issues due to the region’s geology, causing their constructions to sag. They devised a clever solution by driving wooden piles into the lakebed below water in closely packed formations to create a solid foundation for their structures. So, to enhance its strength, the pilings were wrapped with volcanic stone. 

Despite being built on these foundations, their incredible engineering abilities prevented the systems from tumbling or sinking. The mainland from Tenochtitlan was only accessible by boat. Achievements Of The Aztecs.

The Aztecs constructed causeways in three directions to link their city with the mainland: north, south, and west. They accomplished this by driving two lines of wooden stakes into the lake bottom and filling the area between them with soil and stones until the water level was reached. So, the causeways were constructed straightly, with a width of up to 45 feet. Bridges would open to allow boats to pass through and defend the city from invasions, causing interruptions.

They built one of the largest and most powerful empires in mesoamerica:

The Mexica migrated to the Mexican Valley and founded Tenochtitlan in 1325 AD. Initially, they allied with and offered support to Azcapotzalco, the capital city of the Tepanec Empire. But In 1426, the Azcapotzalco ruler plotted and assassinated the Mexican leader. Tenochtitlan joined the city-states of Texcoco, Tlacopan, and Huexotzinco to defeat Azcapotzalco the following year. They achieved victory in the year 1428. After the war, Huexotzinco decided to withdraw. 

The Triple Alliance was formed by the other three city-states, with Tenochtitlan emerging as the dominant power. After its formation, the coalition initiated wars of conquest and quickly grew in size and strength. Achievements Of The Aztecs.

The Aztec Empire, or the Triple Alliance, once dominated central Mexico and its surroundings. So, the area was 80,000 square miles, home to almost 25 million people in nearly 500 towns and cities. Before the Spanish conquest, it ranked as one of the most influential empires in Mesoamerica, Mexico, and Central America. The term Aztec is commonly associated with the Mexica people of Tenochtitlan. However, it also refers to the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan.

Conclusion: Achievements Of The Aztecs

Although the Aztecs were mighty military and skilled engineers who built the magnificent city of Tenochtitlan on one of the world’s most challenging terrains. The Aztecs had diverse achievements, including a sophisticated number system, an elaborate calendar, advanced medical knowledge, and a rich poetic tradition. Compulsory education for all children was instituted by them first.

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