from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The symbols of the three members of the Aztec Triple Alliance: Texcoco , Tenochtitlán and Tlacopán (from left) on page 34 of the Osuna Code

The Aztecs (from Nahuatl aztecatl , German about "someone who comes from Aztlán ") were members of a Mesoamerican civilization that created a high culture and existed between the 14th and early 16th centuries. In general, the term "Aztec" is used to describe the ethnically heterogeneous, mostly Nahuatl-speaking population of the Valley of Mexico ; in the narrower sense, however, only the residents of Tenochtitlán and the two other members of the so-called " Aztec Triple Alliance ", the cities of Texcoco and Tlacopán , are meant.

From the late 14th century onwards, the Aztecs expanded their political and military influence over the years to the surrounding cities and peoples, who were not directly attached to the empire but were forced to pay tributes . At the height of their power they controlled large parts of central Mexico, with the Valley of Mexico as their center. Between 1519 and 1521, the Aztecs were finally subjugated by the Spanish under Hernán Cortés .



The Aztecs mostly referred to themselves as "Mexi'ca '" [ meːˈʃiʔkaʔ ] (German: Mexikaner ), after the name of the place or the region Mexico, the origin of today's country name Mexico , or after their settlement areas Tlatelolco and Tenochtitlán , also Tlatelolca [ tɬateˈloːlkaʔ ] and Tenochca [ teˈnoːtʃkaʔ ]. In ancient sources, the term "Aztec" is only used in connection with the mythical place of origin Aztlán . The first to use it in modern times was the Jesuit Francisco Javier Clavijero in the 18th century; However, he only became known through Alexander von Humboldt .

Founding myth and origin

The Aztec myths describe four great ages that preceded the existing world and ended in disaster. The fifth age was heralded by the sacrifice of a hero who turned into the sun.

The current coat of arms of Mexico takes up the founding myth of Tenochtitlán: It shows an eagle sitting on a cactus with a snake in its claws.

Legend has it that the Aztecs migrated from a place in the north called Aztlán to Lake Texcoco in central Mexico in the 14th century , led by their god Huitzilopochtli . When they got to an island in the lake, they saw an eagle sitting on a prickly pear (Spanish: nopal ) eating a snake. According to prophecy, this event was designed to show them the place to settle. The Aztecs built their city of Tenochtitlán on the spot where today's Mexico City is located. The eagle on the cactus with the snake from the legend is depicted on the Mexican flag today .

Rise and flowering period

Historically, the first settlement of the Aztecs in the area of ​​Tenochtitlán can be traced back to the period between 1320 and 1350; from an archaeological perspective, according to recent excavations (as of December 2007), the period between 1100 and 1200 is also considered possible. The first ruler Acamapichtli , Huitzilihuitl and Chimalpopoca were vassals of Tepanecs -Herrschers Tezozomoc in the period from 1372 to 1427 and established at this time through marriage diplomatic links with neighboring cities. Gradually the Aztecs achieved a certain political equality with the other cities.

When Tezozómoc died, his son Maxtla murdered Chimalpopoca. His uncle Itzcóatl now allied himself with the former Acolhua ruler of Texcoco , Nezahualcoyotl , and besieged Maxtla's capital Azcapotzalco . Maxtla capitulated after 100 days and went into exile . Tenochtitlán (Mexica), Texcoco (Acolhua) and Tlacopán (Tepaneks) then formally consolidated their war alliance, the Aztec Triple Alliance , which dominated the valley of Mexico and eventually extended power beyond the valley's borders. Over time, Tenochtitlán became the dominant force within the alliance.

Itzcóatl also brought about far-reaching domestic political changes. While a new aqueduct was being built to Tenochtitlán to secure the drinking water supply for the growing population, he also had many old illuminated manuscripts destroyed. The reasons for this are not yet clear, but it is likely that Itzcóatl wanted to create a basis of legitimation for the rule of his family.

Itzcóatl's nephew Moctezuma I inherited the throne in 1440 and expanded the territory again. However, Tenochtitlán was badly hit by a plague of locusts, a flood and a famine between 1445 and 1450, revealing the city's food supply as a weak point and reiterating the need for tributes. It is believed that the practice of the flower wars was also introduced during Moctezuma's reign . His son Axayacatl, who came to power in 1469 (possibly not until 1471), expanded the area controlled by the Aztecs to include some areas of the Mixtec and Zapotec , but he suffered a severe defeat against the powerful empire of the Tarasken of Tzintzuntzan . Until the arrival of the Spaniards, the Aztecs did not carry out any large-scale military operations against the Tarasques.

In 1482 Axayacatl's older brother Tízoc briefly took over the rule, under which the empire lost its reputation in terms of foreign policy, until he was replaced in 1486 by his younger brother Auítzotl , who reorganized the army. The empire reached its greatest expansion area during his reign. His successor was Moctezuma II , who isolated the Tlaxcalteks in foreign policy through several campaigns and finally secured control of the Oaxaca Valley . Moctezuma strengthened Tenochtitlán's leadership position within the Triple Alliance, which is reflected, among other things, in the fact that he actively intervened in Texcoco's succession and determined the successor to King Nezahualpilli , who died in 1515 .


Because of their aggressiveness, the Aztecs were more hated than loved by their neighbors. They did not manage to curb the Aztecs' urge for power on a diplomatic level, nor through blood marriages . The arrival of the Spaniards, led by Hernán Cortés, was the only chance for some tribes to escape Aztec rule. The Aztec ruler Moctezuma II learned of the arrival of the Spaniards early on, but he acted too hesitantly. After the Spaniards and their allies, the Tlaxcalteks , came to Tenochtitlán in November 1519, they captured Moctezuma in a coup and controlled the fate of the empire through him.

When Cortés moved back to the Atlantic coast in the spring of 1520 because a troop had landed from Cuba with the task of arresting him, the Aztecs rose up against the Spaniards who remained in the city. After his return there was fighting between Spaniards and Aztecs, in the course of which Moctezuma was killed by his compatriots. Cortés then saw no other option than to flee the city. The attempt to escape from Tenochtitlán on the night of July 1, 1520 , cost almost three quarters of the Spanish soldiers their lives.

While Cortés' troops recovered in the weeks that followed, a smallpox epidemic raged in Tenochtitlán, killing a good sixty percent of the city's residents, including the new King Cuitláuac . His successor Cuauhtémoc failed to prevent the king of Texcoco from falling away. Together with the Tlaxcalteks, warriors from Texcoco and reinforcements from Cuba, Cortés began the siege of the city, which ended on August 13, 1521.

Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec ruler, was executed in 1525. Most of Tenochtitlán's buildings had been destroyed during the siege; the new Mexico City was built on its ruins . In the years following the proclamation of the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535, a large part of the local population was converted to Christianity and the Aztec culture gradually disappeared without, however, completely disappearing.

Sources on history and culture

There are no written sources about the history and culture of the Aztecs from before the Spanish conquest. The reason is both the lack of an efficient writing system with which the recording of texts would have been possible, as well as the destruction of the written manuscripts through conquest and Christian missionary work. Information about the history and culture before the conquest is therefore based to a large extent on oral traditions recorded under Spanish colonial rule, especially in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, as well as on copies and adaptations of illustrated manuscripts made during this period ( Aztec Codices ), which were often commissioned and commented on by members of the mendicant orders operating in Mexico . According to their content, historical documents are to be distinguished from religious ones.

At the instigation of the Spaniards, the Codex Mendoza of 1541 was written down, which lists the conquests of the Aztec rulers and the tributary provinces and also contains a brief ethnographic overview. The most important early colonial evidence of the culture also includes the bilingual (Spanish / Nahuatl) “Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España” (the last final version is the “Codex Florentinus”) by the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún , who Recorded and edited statements from Indian sources on a wide range of topics. This twelve-volume work, written bilingually in Spanish and Nahuatl, was not published in the face of opposition from the Inquisition and the Council of India - apart from the few handwritten copies made by Bernardino de Sahagún - in order to prevent the Aztecs from referring to the myths and beliefs described therein , Ceremonies and customs. Other important sources of mainly historical content are in Spanish the "Historia de las Indias de Nueva España" by the Dominican Diego Durán , the " Crónica Mexicana " by Hernando de Alvarado Tezozómoc , who came from high Indian nobility , and the various historical accounts of the nobility from Texcoco-born Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxóchitl . The “ Anales de Cuauhtitlan ” and the “ Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca ” are written in Náhuatl , the authors of which have remained anonymous. The most extensive historical work is formed by the various "Relaciones" by Domingo Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin from Chalco, also written in Náhuatl .


Nahuatl is still spoken today by parts of the indigenous population of Mexico, the Nahua . There is also a version of Wikipedia in Nahuatl .

Political organization

Expansion of the Aztec territory at the beginning of the 16th century.

The Aztec empire was not a territorially closed empire, such as the empires of European history represented. Rather, it was an amalgamation of the three cities of Tenochtitlán , Texcoco and Tlacopán , located in the basin of Mexico , whose political and legal systems differed greatly due to old traditions and were therefore not standardized. The respective rulers ruled their cities and the territories dependent on them independently of one another and only acted together when there was a common interest, for example during conquests. The three cities were formally equal, but this changed in favor of Tenochtitlán, especially in the time of Moctezuma II . The areas dependent on the cities did not form closed territories, but the possessions were closely interlinked according to the participation in the respective conquests.

The Aztecs exercised their rule mainly in the form of demands for tribute . The aim of the expansion was the economic use, not the domination of the subject areas. There was hardly any direct settlement on the territory of the subjugated enemy, nor was the Aztec legal system imposed; the traditional local structures remained untouched. However, disadvantages arose from the fact that the area subject to the Aztecs was ethnically very differentiated, which often led to diplomatic entanglements that the Spaniards were ultimately able to exploit for themselves.

The head of the city of Tenochtitlán was the huey tlatoani " Great Speaker ", who is often referred to in literature as "King" or "Emperor". In fact, the Tlatoani was an absolute monarch who ruled the city alone and was succeeded by male members of his family. The office of deputy, the Cihuacóatl , was only established under Itzcóatl and was largely shaped by its first owner Tlacaélel . Its tasks were mainly domestic. The offices of Tlacateccatl and Tlacochcalcatl were lower in rank and both had civilian and military functions. But they were important transitory offices for the future ruler. For the Court a separate court for nobles and non-nobles had ever responsible. In addition to its prince, the city of Texcoco had four council bodies which were responsible for justice, war, music, art and science and also the state treasury.

Corporate structure

Aztec society knew four main classes: nobility (pilli, pl. Pipiltin) , farmers and artisans ( macehualli , pl. Macehualtin) , traders ( pochteca ) and slaves (tlatlacotin) . Belonging to a class was largely given by birth, even if the macehualtin were able to rise to a special, non-hereditary nobility rank through outstanding service in the war. Such a person could call himself Teteuctin , like all other warriors , although his garb that went with this title differed slightly from that of the military lodges . Thus there was little social mobility .


The nobles ( pipiltin ) were socially at the forefront of society. The head of state ( tlatoani , "speaker") always came from the nobility.

The economic status of the nobles was by no means uniform. The members of the upper class lived in palaces with extensive land holdings, which, however, were not necessarily in the immediate vicinity of the palace. The land was worked by dependent farmers who had to give up a fixed share of the yield. The members of the lower nobility were often only slightly different from the peasants.

The sons of the nobles received military, religious and administrative training in temple schools ( calmecac ) in order to prepare them for their later tasks. However, the successors to the heads of families could only officially take over their inheritance if they had previously distinguished themselves in the war. However, many pipiltin also became priests ( tlamacazqui ) , often only for a certain period of time, who lived in celibacy and, unlike many other Mesoamerican cultures, did not exercise secular power.

Nobles generally had more rights than the peasants, but were also punished more severely. For example, they were allowed to wear colored clothes made of cotton and live in multi-story houses, but were sentenced to death for a crime for which a farmer would have been “only” enslaved.

Traveling traders

The traveling traders ( pochteca , singular pochtecatl ) were numerically small, but because of their key position for the movement of goods as well as for the dissemination of information, an important class. Many also served as spies . They followed their own customs, lived in their own neighborhoods, obeyed their own code of conduct and were even subject to their own jurisdiction. Long-distance traders, in particular, were often able to accumulate a wealth equal to that of noble families.


The common people ( macehualtin , singular macehualli ) formed the main part of the population. They were basically free and mostly had the right to use a piece of land that belonged to a nobleman. They were obliged to do military service. Towards the end of the Aztec period, a large part of the Macehualtin in Tenochtitlán no longer lived from agriculture, but from handicrafts or retailers. 

The Macehualtin were not tied to the land of a particular nobleman, but could move away and work on another's land. In certain regions, however, there were also associations of several farmers, called calpolli , who jointly owned land that was divided into plots and could be worked by the farmers alone. Nevertheless, they too had to pay tribute, not to the aristocrats, but directly to the respective ruler. The internal affairs of a calpolli were handled by a calpolli elder.


The position of the slaves ( tlatlacotin , singular tlacotli ) was more similar to the slave-holding society of antiquity in Europe than to slavery by Europeans in the same age. The status of the slave was not hereditary, that is, a slave's children were free. A slave was allowed to own things and even other slaves, and he could also buy himself free. In the event of mistreatment or of children sharing with their master, slaves could be declared free. When the master died, the slaves were inherited, but usually those of the greatest merit were set free.

One often became a slave through conviction for a crime. A murderer who was sentenced to death could become the victim's slave at the request of the victim's widow. A father could sell his son as a slave if he was declared uneducable by an official. Often you became a slave if you couldn't pay your debts.


Farmers store harvested maize in a silo (page from the Codex Florentinus )


The Aztecs were field farmers . The Mexico Basin offered a wide variety of natural resources. Several lakes supplied the inhabitants of the valley with fish and their tributaries with drinking water. Most of the food produced came from agriculture. In the tropical climate of Mexico, the Aztecs could grow corn , beans, pumpkins , amaranth (a grain-like plant), chia (an herb from the genus of the sage with fatty seeds), agaves and cacti; Medicinal herbs in particular were also cultivated. Large-scale cattle breeding did not take place, only turkeys and dogs were kept.

In hilly terrain, the Aztecs practiced a cultivation technique called tlacolol . The fields were cultivated for two or three years and then lay fallow ; sometimes the fields were also terraced . On the other hand, irrigated agriculture was practiced on flat land , mostly on so-called Chinampas . The Chinampas were cultivation areas that were obtained from the swampy soil and often enabled several harvests a year due to their favorable soil moisture. In Tenochtitlán almost every house had its own chinampa, on which the residents grew their own food, but more and more food had to be brought into the city as the city grew. Since the Aztecs knew neither wheeled carts nor pack animals such as horses, food could only be transported over long distances by humans. The largest Chinampas in terms of area were located in Xochimilco at the southern end of Lake Texcoco , where agriculture is still practiced in this way today.


Craftsmen who specialized to a high degree lived especially in the big cities. The most important and respected professions were those of goldsmith or silversmith, painter and also the feather processing craftsman. These manufacturers of luxury goods mainly produced for the aristocratic upper class, with a division of labor. They were organized in associations that were very similar to the guilds in medieval Europe. This also gave them a number of privileges, such as the right to educate and teach their offspring themselves.

In the social hierarchy below the manufacturers of luxury goods there were professions such as potters, basket makers and the processing of obsidian , which was used for weapons, for example. As a rule, they ran small family businesses and were not further organized. Likewise, they did not divide their work, but took care of the entire production process themselves. Another area was weaving, which was operated exclusively by women, regardless of social class. Mainly clothes were produced, whereby women of lower class were strictly forbidden to wear more elegant and valuable clothes. In addition, the fabrics were used as decorations for households, temples, squares, etc. as well as gifts, dowries, and the like.

Trade and tribute

The Aztecs carried on a brisk trade far beyond the borders of the area they controlled. Cocoa beans or gold dust in quills were usually used as currency . The traders represented a class of their own in Aztec society with rights and duties. While producers of smaller quantities of goods sold their goods, such as food or handcrafted products, themselves in the markets, there were also wholesalers who sold larger ones in a professional manner Quantities expelled. The wholesalers traveled back and forth between the places and were of particular importance to the aristocracy who demanded luxury goods from distant regions. However, they not only traded in goods, but also acted as spies or took on diplomatic tasks, such as embassies. They stood socially between the nobility and the common people, but some merchants achieved so much wealth that they could adorn themselves with prestige objects that otherwise only the nobility could afford. Over time, they too formed guilds and created their own ranking system. The merchants were an important economic factor for the Aztecs, but with the conquest of the city of Tlatelolco in 1473, one of the most powerful economic centers on a neighboring island of Tenochtitlán, the economic power of the Aztecs became even greater than it had been before.

With the increasing expansion of the Aztecs, the flow of tribute deliveries to the three cities of the Aztec Triple Alliance increased. The tributes were imposed on conquered cities and served on the one hand to meet the basic needs of the cities, but on the other hand also to pay workers, for ritual feeding at certain festivals and, last but not least, to supply the nobles with luxury goods. To compensate, the conquered places were guaranteed protection from attacks and assistance in times of need.

The conquered areas were finally divided into 38 tribute provinces, whose administrations were responsible for the survey, which an Aztec tribute administrator ( calpixqui ) supervised and coordinated. The goods most frequently requested were, apart from food, such as corn or beans, cotton blankets and, depending on the area, furs or bird feathers such as the quetzal bird , sea snails, cocoa beans or special items of clothing. Another option was to request labor for construction projects. Usually two fifths of the tributes were distributed to Tenochtitlán and Texcoco, the remaining fifth went to Tlacopán; however, some places only delivered to one of the three cities. After the Spanish conquered Mexico , they took over the meticulously kept lists of the extent and type of tribute deliveries and used them for their own purposes.

Image of an Aztec jaguar warrior from the Codex Magliabechiano

Military affairs

With the Aztecs, warfare was very important to society. Boys were "dedicated" to battle at birth; later they also received a strong military education. The special importance of the military was particularly evident in the political arena, because practically everyone who assumed a high office had to have distinguished himself beforehand in the war. This also applied to members of the nobility and especially to the tlatoani . For all men there was a temporary conscription, but there were also men who served as warriors all their lives. Proven warriors were accepted into the ranks of the eagle warriors or jaguar warriors , to whom temples were dedicated in Tenochtitlán.

Warfare served two main purposes. On the one hand, there were wars with the aim of subjugating other states, which then had to pay tribute. Since Tenochtitlán in particular could no longer support itself with increasing size, the need arose to ensure the supply of the city through those tribute payments. However, before acts of war could begin, envoys from Tenochtitlán , Texcoco and Tlacopán were sent one after the other to officially demand submission. If the rulers there refused, the Aztecs attacked. After the defeat of the attacked city, tribute payments were imposed on it.

However, the Aztecs deliberately failed to subjugate some cities in order to be able to wage so-called flower wars . These were campaigns that were primarily aimed at capturing enemy warriors who would later be sacrificed to the gods. Warriors who captured enemies were valued and attained the highest honors. In this type of war, however, the declaration of war by ambassadors was not necessary; rather, the flower wars were planned in advance by both sides and carried out at regular intervals at a certain time.



The polytheistic religion of the Aztecs was based on the religion of the Toltecs . The main god was Huitzilopochtli , the god of the sun and war. Another particularly revered god was Quetzalcoatl , the feathered serpent who had once been a ruler of the Toltecs and who rode out of the world in a canoe. As Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl he was the god of the wind, the sky, the war, the earth and a creator god, but what was special about him was that all the peoples around the Aztecs worshiped him. Besides him there were also some gods of different importance, e.g. B. the rain god Tlaloc . A special feature is that almost every area is covered by several gods.

Quetzalcoatl (Codes Borbonicus, 18th century)

The Aztecs, who died of natural causes, came to Mictlan, the nine-layer Aztec underworld, ruled by the god of the dead and the goddess of the dead. Fallen warriors had the honor of accompanying the sun on its way from sunrise to zenith. The women who had died in childbirth (their kind of survival war) accompanied the sun from zenith to sunset. People who drowned or were struck by lightning came to Tlalocan , the realm of the rain god Tlaloc, also known as the paradise of flowers.

Sacrificial Practices

The importance and extent of Aztec human sacrifice are controversial. For the most part, the descriptions of various cruel sacrificial rituals come from Spanish conquistadors and missionaries who had an interest in portraying the practices of the pagan people negatively. There was also doubt that the sacrificial cults handed down by the Aztecs themselves were carried out in full in this way. Corresponding pictorial representations of the sacrifices were interpreted as symbolic, as devoid of any “physical realism”, as a pictorial representation of initiation rites or inner spiritual purification and renewal processes. Therefore, the following traditional statements have often been disputed. However, recent excavation finds have proven the sacrificial rituals.

The Aztecs are notorious for their religiously motivated human sacrifices, which they carried out in large numbers. Captured warriors, slaves and children were used for this. Sometimes Aztec warriors also voluntarily sacrificed themselves, which was considered a great honor. One method of sacrifice consisted of holding people individually by their arms and legs on top of the pyramids on a sacrificial stone and cutting out their hearts with a stone knife. The priest splashed himself and the statues of the gods with fresh human blood. The body was then thrown down the steep stone steps. In the case of particularly high-ranking victims, parts were fried and eaten. Children were made to cry in cages for the benefit of the rain god Tlaloc and starved to death. The Aztecs waged so-called flower wars with their warring peoples in mutual agreement. In these flower wars, as far as possible, no kills were killed in battle; the aim was to take prisoners who would then serve as new offerings. They called these sacrifices nextlaualli "debt payments to the gods". You should make sure the sun has been able to rise again every morning.

According to the latest findings, however, the “kings” themselves also made blood sacrifices (cut in hand / arm / leg / ear) in order to appease or to endeavor the deities; a similar practice is also known from the Maya . It is also known that the priests of the respective temple cut their ears in order to obtain blood that was necessary for rituals. Very few of the 1600 deities known at the time were worshiped because not all were so important. The Aztecs had this mass of gods because they "adopted" the gods of conquered peoples. With this constant influx of new gods, not every god was known to everyone. There were different tribes among the Aztecs, each of whom preferred "his" deity.

Human sacrifices were probably introduced to this extent in the second half of the 15th century and only really asserted themselves under the rulers Axayacatl or Auítzotl . Some scientists already see this development as a sign of decadence and an announced decline of the Aztec empire, regardless of the Spaniards.

The Spaniards saw the sacrificial rituals, religion and even the whole culture of the Aztecs as the work of the devil. Charles C. Mann, in his book 1491, New revelations of the Americas before Columbus, draws the reader's attention to the fact that - although the victorious Spaniards showed little willingness in their reports to describe the Aztecs benevolently or neutrally - there were doubts raised in public the observed sacrificial practices are completely insubstantial, if only because they also appear in surviving Aztec sources. In this respect, the Spanish statements are credible. However, he states that at the same time in Europe and also in Spain there was a bloody culture of ritualized and cruel killings - in the judiciary. Executions were regular public spectacles that attracted large audiences and religious deviants were burned alive at the stake in Toledo. Here there would be no moral advantage of conquering Europe over the Mexica - possibly not even in the number of killings.



The Aztec calendar combined a cycle of 260 days for daily use and divination called tonalpohualli . In it, the numbers from 1 to 13 were interlaced with 20 characters, so that 260 different combinations were created. The individual sections of 13 days therefore began with one of the 20 characters and were named after him. The solar year xihuitl lasted 365 days, an adjustment to the actual length of the solar year by switching was not made. The year consisted of 18 sections of 20 days, each ending with a big festival. At the end of the year there are 5 more useless days (nemontemi), which are considered unhappy and in which major activities are avoided.


The Aztecs did not have a writing system with which complete texts could be reproduced. For their records and monuments, they used a narrative pictorial font in which the facts were depicted as well as possible. The precision has been increased through conventionalized presentation methods. In addition, hieroglyphic symbols were used for names of people and places and for marking goods, dimensions and the like. They were used to represent content ( ideograms ) or to write down words or their parts using fixed characters ( logograms ). In a number of manuscripts from the Texcoco region, syllables derived from logograms were used instead of or in addition to logograms. Almost all pre-Hispanic documents (codices) were destroyed by the Spanish conquerors, as it was believed that they only contained lies of the devil.


Aztec medicine or "old Mexican medicine" was based on supernatural ideas, but also had empirical-rational elements. It reached its highest level of development between 1200 and 1500. An early modern source of Aztec medicine are the Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana by Bernardino de Sahagún and the Codex Badianus . The Mexican curanderos represent a link between the past and the present . As healers, they can be the first medical contact person on site. Both European and Mexican plants are used as medicinal plants.


Aztec feather headdress , attributed to Moctezuma II
The Gregory Fair , feathers cm on wood 68 × 56, possibly the work of Diego Huanutzin ( tlatoani under Spanish rule) from the year 1539, now in the Musée de Jacobins in too . It is the oldest known testimony of Christian art on the American continent

Known and through conquests and expeditions to Europe and museums there are works such. B. Aztec feather art . Feathers were brought into close association with the Aztec gods and were associated with extensive symbolic meanings and were far more valuable than gold to the indigenous people .

See also


German speaking

  • Nigel Davies : The Aztecs: Masters of Statecraft - Creators of High Culture. Econ, Düsseldorf 1979, ISBN 3-499-16950-9 .
  • Serge Gruzinski : The Aztecs: a brief flowering of a high culture. Maier, Ravensburg 1992, ISBN 3-473-51028-9 .
  • Peter Hassler: Human sacrifice among the Aztecs? - A source and ideology critical study. European University Theses; Series XIX Volkskunde / Ethnologie, Dept. B: Ethnologie, Vol. 30. Peter Lang AG, European publishing house of the sciences, Bern 1992, ISBN 3-261-04587-6 .
  • Doris Heyden: horticultural artist in the new world. In: Spectrum of Science. October 2003, pp. 70–75, ISSN  0170-2971 (article on horticulture of the Aztecs)
  • Felix Hinz: "Hispanization" in New Spain 1519–1568. Transformation of the collective identities of Mexica, Tlaxkalteken and Spaniards. 3 volumes, Kovač, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-8300-2070-8 .
  • Ulrich Köhler (Ed.): Old American Studies. An introduction to the advanced cultures of Central and South America. Reimer, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-496-00936-5 .
  • Hanns J. Prem : The Aztecs. History - culture - religion. CH Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-45835-1 .
  • Hanns J. Prem: History of ancient America. 2nd revised edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-486-53032-2 .
  • Hanns J. Prem, Ursula Dyckerhoff: The old Mexico. History and culture of the peoples of Mesoamerica. Bertelsmann, Munich 1986.
  • Berthold Riese : The Empire of the Aztecs: History and Culture. CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3406614002 .
  • Jacques Soustelle : The Life of the Aztecs: Mexico on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest. Manesse-Verlag, Zurich 1993, ISBN 3-7175-8086-8 .
  • Tzvetan Todorov : The Conquest of America. The other's problem. 8th edition. Suhrkamp Edition, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-518-11213-9 .

English speaking

  • Nigel Davies: The Toltec heritage: From the fall of Tula to the rise of Tenochtitlan . University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1980.
  • Nigel Davies: The Aztec Empire . University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1987. ISBN 0-8061-2098-3
  • Frances F. Berdan: The Aztecs of Central America. To Imperial Society . CBS College Publishing, New York 1982. ISBN 0-03-055736-4 .
  • Elizabeth P. Boone: The Aztec World . Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books 1994.
  • Alfonso Caso: The Aztecs: People of the Sun . University of Oklahoma Press, unlocated 1988. ISBN 0-8061-2161-0 .
  • Pedro Carrasco: The Tenochca Empire of Ancient Mexico . University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1999. ISBN 0-8061-3144-6 .
  • Royal Academy of Arts London (ed.): Aztecs . DuMont-Literatur-und-Kunst-Verlag, Cologne 2003. ISBN 3-8321-7219-X .
  • Michael E. Smith: The Aztecs . Blackwell, Malden 1996 / Oxford 2nd ed. 2005. ISBN 0-631-23016-5
  • Felipe Solis: The Aztec Empire . Guggenheim Museum, New York 2004. ISBN 0-89207-321-7
  • Richard F. Townsend: The Aztecs . Thames and Hudson, London 2000. ISBN 0-500-27720-6

French speaking

  • Christian Duverger: L'Origine des Aztèques. Seuil “points essais”. 2003.
  • Christian Duverger: La Fleur létale. Seuil “Recherches anthropologiques”. 1979.
  • Miguel León-Portilla : La pensée aztèque. Seuil “Recherches anthropologiques”. 1985.
  • Miguel León-Portilla: Anthology Nahuatl: Témoignages littéraires du Mexique indigène. L'Harmattan "UNESCO", 1997.
  • Jacques Soustelle: L'Univers des Aztèques. Hermann "Savoir", 1997.
  • Eric Roulet, Jacqueline Durand-Forest, Daniele Dehouve: Parlons Nahuatl - La langue des aztèques. L'Harmattan, Parlons 2000.
  • Tzvetan Todorov , Georges Baudot: Récits aztèques de la conquête. Texts choisis et présentés by Georges Baudot and Tzvetan Todorov; trad. du náhuatl by Georges Baudot et de l'espagnol by Pierre Cordoba; annotés by Georges Baudot. Ed. du Seuil, Paris 1983, ISBN 2-02-006628-9 .

Web links

Commons : Aztecs  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Aztec  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hanns J. Prem: The Aztecs. History - culture - religion. (=  Beck series. Volume 2035: CH Beck Wissen). Verlag CH Beck, 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-406-45835-4 , pp. 9-10.
  2. Hanns J. Prem: The Aztecs. History - culture - religion. (=  Beck series. Volume 2035: CH Beck Wissen). Verlag CH Beck, 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-406-45835-4 , p. 76.
  3. ^ Aztec pyramid in Mexico City | News |
  4. Hanns J. Prem: The Aztecs. History - culture - religion. 4th edition. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2006, p. 86
  5. Hanns J. Prem: The Aztecs. History - culture - religion. 4th edition. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2006, p. 92
  6. General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex - Viewer - World Digital Library. Accessed January 31, 2020 .
  7. Annals of Anthropology , UNAM, Vol. Xi, 1974, p. 56.
  8. ^ William T. Sanders: Settlement Patterns in Central Mexico. Handbook of Middle American Indians, 1971, vol. 3, pp. 3-44.
  9. so in 1992 the Swiss ethnologist Peter Hassler: The lie of Hernán Cortes
  10. cf. Overall: Peter Hassler, Human sacrifice among the Aztecs ?: A source and ideology-critical study (Europäische Hochschulschriften / European University Studies / Publications Universitaires Européennes), Verlag Peter Lang, Bern 1992
  11. Cult of the dead on the Feuerberg. Why did the Aztecs skinned people and sacrificed children? Archaeologists uncover the largest cult site of the mysterious people in Mexico City and discover traces of cruel rituals, in: Der Spiegel May 26, 2003 issue 22/2003
  12. - The sacrificial cult of the Aztecs ( Memento from December 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  13. cf. Charles C. Mann, New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Vintage Books (Random House), New York 2011, pp. 136 f.
  14. ^ Hans Schadewaldt : Old Mexican medicine. In: The Medical World. Volume 26, 1962, pp. 1455-1464.
  15. ^ Doris Schwarzmann-Schafhauser: Aztec Medicine. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 124 f.
  16. See also Bernard Ortiz de Montellano: Aztec sources of some Mexican folk medicine. In: Richard P. Steiner (Ed.): Folk medicine. The art and the sciences (American Chemical Society), Washington DC 1986, pp. 1-22.
  17. ^ B. Ortiz de Montellano: Aztec sources of some mexican folk medicine. In: RP Steiner: Folk medicine. The art and the science. Washington, DC, 1986, pp. 1-22.
  18. Xavier Lozoya: An overview of the system of traditional medicine currently practiced in Mexico. In: H. Wagner, Norman R. Farnsworth (eds.): Plants and traditional medicine. London / San Diego 1990 (= Economic and medicinal plant research. Volume 4), p. 81.
  19. Christina Becela-Deller: Ruta graveolens L. A medicinal plant in terms of art and cultural history. (Mathematical and natural scientific dissertation Würzburg 1994) Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1998 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 65). ISBN 3-8260-1667-X , pp. 225 f.
  20. Stephanie Suhr: Medicinal Plants Mexico: Cultural History, Exchange with the Old World and Indigenous Concepts. Part 1–2. Scientific work for the state examination in biology. Freiburg im Breisgau (January) 1993.
  21. , March 12, 2015, Andreas Volz: Far more valuable than gold