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Aztecs and Human Sacrifice:

Aztecs and Human Sacrifice Ryan Lindsey Ant102-66 27 March, 2012


Location Surrounded by major bodies of water in Mexico Have influence over a lot of the land Share Mexico with the Mayans Many rivers running throughout Majority of their civilization was setup around Lake Chalco (

Social Classes:

Social Classes Social classes were determined by how you dressed, housing, and what they ate. Commoners Wore clothing woven with maguey fibre Lived in small adobe, mud, or stone hut (Britannica, 2011) Gender played roles in daily life Women stayed near or at home, duties consisted of cooking, childrearing, domestic ritual, housekeeping, weaving and marketing Men generally worked away from home, majority of men were farmers, but there are also artisans, warriors, and laborers (Smith, 2003) Nobles Wore clothing made from cotton(Britannica, 2011) Lived and worked in palaces/compounds Made up only 5% of the Aztec Population (Smith, 2003)


Warfare The Aztecs were known as very fierce warriors. Warriors weaponry & armor usually a wooden spear with obsidian blades (volcanic glass) on the end Bows and arrows, as well as, slings Wore cotton body armor that was between 1 to 2 inches thick, this stop arrows from hitting them Captives Most warriors did not want to harm the people they were attacking The more captives the warriors brought back the higher ranked he became The captives that were caught, would later be sacrificed to their gods (Tucker, 2002)

The Aztec Gods:

The Aztec Gods The Aztecs were polytheistic A few gods that were worshiped consisted of Huitzilopochtli – name means “Hummingbird of the left” patron god of war and sacrifice, was also one of the main gods which were worshiped. Tlaloc – one of the most ancient gods, god of rain, many children were sacrificed to this god because children's tears were seen as sacred to the god Tonatiuh- god of the sun, provided the people with warmth and fertility, also the patron to warriors, required blood sacrifices. Tezcatlipoca – name means “ Smoking Mirror” known as the opposite of Quetzalcoatl, this god represents evil power, was the patron of the night and north. (Maestri, 2012)

The Aztec Gods cont.:

The Aztec Gods cont. Chalchiuhtlicue – known as the water goddess of rivers, lakes , streams, and still water, also known for fertility and creation. Centeotl- the god of maize (corn), believed to be closely related to Tlaloc. Quetzalcoatl – known as “the Feathered Serpent,” he is the wind god, the Aztecs believed he sweeps the path for the rain gods, so they will produce rain. Xipe Totec- means “Our Lord with the flayed skin,” god of agricultural fertility, the east and the goldsmiths. The flayed skin represents a new beginning with death of the old and growth of the new. There were many other deities archeologists estimate no less then 200 (Maestri, 2012).

Templo Mayor:

Templo Mayor This temple has recently been discovered in Mexico city, but when the Aztec empire was still around the city was known as Tenochtitlan(capital of the Aztec Empire) It was approximately 90 feet tall Hosted sacrifices/rituals for two gods Huitzilopochli Tlaloc Built around 1325 (King, 2011)

Aztec Calendar:

Aztec Calendar There were two calendars the Aztecs used, Solar and Sacred (holy) Calendar. Sacred Calendar Had 365 days Had 18 months Each month had 20 days Sacred(holy) Calendar Had 260 days Had 20 signs 13 numbers Every time the calendars synced up (every 52 years) the Aztecs had a large celebration. They would first let all the fires burn out in their homes, then lit a candle in a sacrifice victims chest. Finally they would use that candle to lite their torches and homes with because they believed it would bring them good luck (Moore, 2008) (

Human Sacrifice:

Human Sacrifice The Aztecs conducted these sacrifices because they believed the gods sacrificed themselves in order for life on Earth to exist. To please the gods, they needed to give them the ultimate sacrifice, human life. Warriors were usually the one sacrificed to the sun god. Were promised of a secured place in “paradise.” Others were chosen based on characteristics, this was seen as one of the highest honors to be chosen. Other celebrations occurred after the sacrifice was done. These included wearing the flayed skin of the one that was sacrificed, cannibalism, etc. These rituals usually occurred based on the day of the 260 day calendar (sacred/holy calendar)(Aguilar-Moreno, 2006). Side note: They also believed that the sacrifice caused the sun to move, shine, and allow the crops to grow (Moore, 2008).

Types of sacrifices:

Types of sacrifices The most common sacrifice was, a warrior was placed on the alter and held there. The priest would then cut open his chest with a flint knife and cut out his heart. From there they put the heart into a fire and drained the blood. -This sacrifice was usually for Huitzilopochtli They would sacrifice women by having them dance around, and decapitate them. -This sacrifice was dedicated to the goddess of earth Children were often sacrificed by drowning them, because there tears were sacred. -This sacrifice was dedicated to Tlaloc There were many other types of sacrifices to each individual god. Usually before the sacrifices began, they dressed those that were to be sacrificed, as the god themselves. The sacrifices were not meant to be seen as cruel, but as a necessity to keep the gods happy and the world alive (Soustelle, 2002).


References Britannica. (2011). Chapter 3: The Toltec and the Aztec, post-classic period (900-1519). Pre-Columbian America: Empires of the new world . New York: New York. Retrieved from Smith, M.E. (2003) The Aztecs. United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Retrieved from Tucker, M. (2002) Exploring ancient civilizations: Mayans & Aztecs . Dayton, Ohio: Teaching and Learning Company. Retrieved from Soustelle, J. (2002). Daily life of the Aztecs. New York: Dover. Retrieved from


References King, H. (2011) The metropolitan museum of art . Retrieved from Maestri, N. (2012) Retrieved from Aguilar-Moreno, M. (2006). Handbook to life in the Aztec world. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from Moore, H. (2008). Blood and celebration: Aztec beliefs. Chicago, Illinois: Raintree. Retrieved from

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