The Aztec lived in the city of Tenochtitlan, which is a fertile basin about 50 miles long and as wide. Surrounded by mountain ranges and several volcanoes, the Aztec has abundant supply of water. With being 8000ft above sea level the day were mild and the nights are cold during much of the year. The Aztecs name means heron people their name is derived from the mythical homeland to the north called Azatlan. This in mind their language(Nahuatl) also belong to the linguistic family as the Soshonean, a tongue will represented among the Indians of the Untied States.
In the Aztecs culture their main principal crop was maize. Maize was usually cooked with lime then ground to make dough, then patted into tortillas, other principal crops were beans, squash, tomatoes, cotton, chilies. The two crops maguey and agave were used as cord, sacks and sandals and a substitute for cotton in clothing. From the juice of the maguey was use in a mild form of alcohol called pulque, which was the ceremonial drink. Only the old men of the committee was able to drink pulque freely, otherwise among the younger generation couldn’t get drunk except at certain religious feast.
Drunkenness was considered a serious offense even punishable by death. In the Aztecs culture there were clans, each clan there was tribes and each tribe was divided up. Then each family were allotted sufficient land for its maintenance, if no one else were alive in the family, then the land were reverted back to the tribe. Urban communities, the land were communal, each group called capulli was composed of a few families that jointly owned a piece of land. Then part of the yield was given to the state as a tax.
Rest of yield would be either sold, traded or for their own use. There were two kinds of farmer, first there was the general field workers. They were in charge with preparing the soil, breaking up clods, hoeing(with the coa digging sticks), leveling, setting boundary markers, planting, irrigating, winnowing and storing grain. The second kind of farmer were the horticulturists their job was planting of trees, transplanting, crop sequences, rotations and a supervisory role, for they were expected to read the Tonalamatl almanacs to determine the time for planting and harvest.
One of the unusual feature of the Aztec agriculture were the floating gardens. These gardens were built by digging ditches into squares or rectangle, then they would pile up mud on the area which the ditches enclosed. Once that was done the mud was held in position by cane and branches of trees. This type of agriculture can still be seen today at Xochimilco, a few miles south of Mexico City. In most culture there were domestic animals in the Aztecs culture there were turkeys, ducks, and dogs. The dogs were raised as food and were considered a great delicacy.
The wild animals that were eaten were rabbit, deer, gopher, iguanas, snake, turtles, salamanders, insect eggs, many species of frogs, larva, grasshoppers, ants, worms, tadpoles and 40 species of water birds. The corixid water beetles an abundant protein source, were netted from the lake, mashed together in balls, wrapped in corn husks, and boiled. The metal specialized craftsmen were gold, silver and coppersmiths. In the leather department were the lapidaries who made elaborate designs of feathers for capes, headdresses and shield covers.
The feather workers achieved the highest honor and prestige, living in communities of their own their techniques was passed down from generation to generation. These feather workers (Amanteca) were reserved for the nobility and the highest ranking officials. One of the prestige of Aztec wealth was jade, turquoise and feathers of the quetzal. With these prize possessions you were considered wealthy, but only the nobility or high ranking officials could get them. To get these prize possessions a heavy tribute was imposed on conquered people. Other tribute include gold dust, cochineal dye, shell, cocoa beans and produce such as beans and maize.
In the Aztec culture cocoa beans were used as a currency, commodities such as quetzal feathers, gold, loads of maize or slaves were valued in terms of cacao beans. In Tenochtitlan the prices were higher then in the lowlands because of its distance from the center of production. Inflation was in possible because any drop in the value of the beans resulted in more being taken out of circulation to make chocolate. As the money always under control, so was the political structure. The tribe consisting about twenty capullis and each capullis would elect one officer.
That officer would go to the tribal council from there the tribal council would elect four officers to elect the supreme chief for the Aztec, but the chief must be from a certain tribe. Even though the chief was treated like a god, the tribal council could easily depose him. In the other conquer city-states that the Aztecs to over kingship remained as an honorary title to their people. One of the things I like was they were devoted to their children, but their children usually inherit the profession of their parents. When a newborn was about to come this would be a special occasion.
In the birth process the midwife would shout war cries to honor the mother for having fought a good battle. Then the umbilical cord of the male would be buried on a distant battlefield. In the female case, her umbilical cord would be buried by the hearth. In the powerful families the families would bring fabulous gifts and celebrate 20 days after birth. Once in their teens or twenties the youth would be at marriage age then the parents would look about for a suitable partner. Once that is done a meal would be prepared and the youth schoolmaster were invited to tell him/her their school were over.
Another council would be called and the kinsmen then would decide which young women is the most available. So for four days these young men would go over to the young lady’s house and try to win her hand. Then on the fourth the parents would decide who was the most suitable unless the young lady already had fancy for one. Then the wedding was prepared, once at the wedding the bride and groom would have to take four mouthfuls of tamales then would be led to the bedroom by the midwife shouting prayers. Once led to bed the rest would feast for four days.
Before marriage there was the education, there were two types of schools according to their inclination and social position. One of the schools was Calmecac a religious seminar that included long spells of duty in the temple. In the temple the youths would have meager rations, then they would draw their own blood to offer as a sacrifice, recite long religious and historical songs, collect huge quantities of wood for their sacred fires and long nights of pilgrimages for ceremonial bathing. Rarely some of the most intelligent children of the lower class would intend in Calmecac.
The other school called the Telpochacalli (youth’s house) would be for the warriors, which they would take their place in civil life. The Aztec’s society was divided into three classes. One class was the slaves, the slaves could buy their freedom or if they escape their masters and reach the royal palace without being caught they were granted their freedom. In the commoner group or maceualtin were given lifetime ownership of a plot of land to build their houses on. The lowest commoner (Tlalmaitl) were allowed to own property they were just tenant farmers.
In the highest positions were the nobles born by birth, priests and warriors who earned their rank. The Aztecs architeculture especially the religious building were like the great pyramids of Egypt instead they were cut off at the top with broad stairways often with banisters shaped like giant serpents which led to the summit and at the summit there was a shrine. In the square around the pyramid featured a skull rack, a row of pointed stakes on which were impaled the heads of the thousands of persons sacrificed there. Within the square stood the priests houses and the ball court.
A game resembling basketball except that the large rubber ball could be hit only with the knee or hip and the object was to drive it through a ring set vertically in each sidewall. The writings of the Aztecs were called codices in which they were written on paper or animal hides and stones they mostly use hieroglyphs in their writing. Mostly what they wrote about was history geography and tribute lists but most of the writings consisted of people and towns. In the markets there were at least 60,000 people daily and these markets were held every fifth day.
One of the things about the market was that no one could sale anything on the way to the market. It was against the law and the fear of angering the market god. Each item sold was sold by counts and measures not by weight. If you were caught stealing or selling stolen goods you be punished by death. One thing about the markets was the long distance traders these traders were called Pochteca and these traders had privilege position with the nobility. These traders were to pay tribute in the form of merchandise but not in personnel service.
The term pochotl, from which pochteca and pochtlan derive, was the name for the Bombax Ceiba, the towering, sheltering tree of the tropical forests, which was traditionally regarded as a sacred tree of life. This title suggests that pochteca occupied very high positions in mesoamerican societies before the Aztecs. There are four types of pochtecal the first one is the pochtecatlatoque, these traders were the commanders of the pochteca. Selected from the oldest the most prestigious they stay at home to serve the administrative capacity and advising the younger traders.
The other one is the tlaltlani(bather of slaves) they gave their slaves baths before the slave get sacrifice. These merchants were one of richest men plus the rulers gave them special privileges. Tencuneneque were the ruler’s personnel traders and they also were the tribute collectors. The last one were naualoztomeca these merchants were traders-spies in search of rare goods. The Aztec people today live mostly in the vicinity of Mexico City. There number well over 1 million people, which is the largest aboriginal group in Mexico. They still retain the Aztec-Nahuatl language and their religion is a blend of Aztec and Roman Catholicism.
One thing about Mexico is the Harpy Eagle which long thought to be extinct. This eagle has a gray hood, black body with a gray crest its physical feature is a six foot wingspan and legs, talons that are roughly the sizes of a man’s arm and hand. This eagle nests in the ceiba(silk cotton) trees, the tree of life for most Mesoamerican cultures, gave the harpy mythical status. These harpies need a range of 25000 to 720000 acres and few forest of that size exist down in Mexico, they feed on large prey like monkeys, sloths. There have been sightings within the past five years.