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Cocoa beans as currency

Cocoa beans were used as a means of payment in the Aztec country. One turkey cost 100 beans, and an avocado cost three. The countries conquered by the Aztecs paid tribute with cocoa beans. 1)


In the Aztec language, the word chocolate meant bitter water. The Aztecs drank a concoction made from cocoa beans and chilis. 2)

The Toltecs

The Toltecs is the name given to a little-known pre-Columbian culture from central Mexico, usually associated with the 10th-century city of Tula. The Toltecs were the mythical ancestors of the Maya and Aztecs that followed. 3)

The vast empire

During Montezuma's reign, the Mesoamerican federation stretched from modern-day Mexico City to Chiapas, with its capital in the beautiful city of Tenochtitlan. 4)

The decline

Between 1518 and 1521, Hernan Cortes and a group of Spanish conquistadors conquered the Aztec country (in what is now Mexico). 5)


Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, dominated central Mexico in the mid-14th century, and after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, many words from it made their way into Spanish and English, and other European languages. Words borrowed from Nahuatl include, for example, coyote, avocado, ocelot, and chocolate. 6)

Spiritual culture of the Aztecs

The material and spiritual culture of the Aztecs did not grow in a vacuum. They were the successors of the Olmecs, Maya, and Toltecs, among others - the next great civilizations of the region. While we know quite a bit about the influence of the latter two on the Aztecs, the influence of the Olmecs is not so clear, but it is known that many religious, philosophical, or social concepts were adapted from it.7)

Eagle sitting on a cactus

The Aztecs founded their capital on the spot where they saw an eagle sitting on a cactus. They drained the swamps in the area and created artificial islands, preparing them for cultivation. This is how Tenochtitlan began to be born in 1325 AD. 8)

Triple alliance

In 1428, Aztec leader Itzcoatl formed an alliance with two city-states, Texcoco and Tacuba, to defeat a powerful Aztec enemy, the city-state Azcapotzalco. This triple alliance was a decisive factor in the building of the Aztec empire, and nothing could stop these fascinating people on their path to regional domination. 9)

Moctezuma I

Itzcoatl's successor, Moctezuma I, who took power in 1440, is considered the father of the Aztec empire. 10)

Theocratic empire

The Aztec empire was theocratic, and ritual and social organization stemmed from mythology. They believed that only ritual and social order would ensure the continuity of the world's existence. Because of this, the culture was very resistant to change. 11)

Aztec mythology

The Aztecs worshipped a vast pantheon of anthropomorphic deities. Among the most famous today are Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun, to whom the Templo Mayor, or Great Temple in Tenochtitlan, is dedicated, and Quetzalcoatl, a Toltec deity whose role grew over time. 12)

Two calendars

Aztec culture had two calendars. One standard and 365-day solar calendar and a ritual calendar of 260 days. As in other cultures of the region, the calendar played a central role in Aztec religion. 13)

Power for the priests

Due to the theocratic system, the greatest position in the empire was held by priests, shamans, and magicians, as they were the ones with the knowledge of ritual and the power to allow the world to last. 14)

Three souls

The Aztecs believed that humans had three souls, each playing a different role. Tonnali was located in the head and was responsible for will and logic. Ihiyotl was the soul of passion and aggression, located in the liver. Teyolia, on the other hand, is the soul of love and vitality, located in the heart. 15)


The Aztecs made an ointment called teotlaqualli, or “divine food,” for ritual purposes. It also contained powdered parts of venomous animals. The substances in it penetrated the skin, putting them in a state of readiness for contact with the gods. 16)

Puppet rulers

As late as 1565, the Spaniards were still appointing successive Aztec rulers, but these were only puppets. The once great empire no longer existed. 17)

aztecs.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/06 05:57 by aga