Aztec History and Traditions

The origins of Aztec history date back to the the 6th century and the emergence of the first Nahua people.

It was not until the twelve century however that the Nahua began to settle and grow in prominence. The eventual rise of the advanced Aztec Empire helped to shape the form, structure and progression of Mexican history.

The initial Nahua people were limited in education but highly skilled in manual orientated activities such as hunting and warfare.

As time passed by, the Nahua communities adopted religious beliefs and learned cultural habits and customs from the early Mesoamerican civilizations.

This developmental period of Aztec history formed the foundations for future Aztec traditions for many years to come. The great Empire grew stronger and developed considerably from 1325AD until the eventual fall in 1521AD.

The Aztec Calendar

The city of Tenochtitlan

Aztec history is often most notably associated with the controversial practice of human sacrifice. However the advanced civilization also constructed spectacular buildings and introduced a range of new creative concepts.

The formation of the Aztec Calendar for example was an iconic and monumental achievement. The Great City of Tenochtitlan also showcases another landmark achievement from this early era.

The City was constructed in this location due to the instructions of an ancient legend.

The legend is shown in symbolic form on the Flag of Mexico.

The Mexico flag features a coat of arms, which is centrally located on the white vertical stripe.

The icon depicts an eagle holding a serpent, the eagle is perched upon a cactus.

A traditional legend within Aztec history stated that the people should build a majestic city in the location where they witnessed an eagle holding a serpent, whilst perched upon a cactus.

When the empire later came across the symbolic eagle, they immediately made plans to build their legendary majestic city. The city of Tenochtitlan was constructed on this site in 1325. The city would became the center and capital of the ever expanding Aztec empire.

The Aztec City of Tenochtitlan

The Triple Alliance

The Aztecs formed a triple alliance in 1427 with the cities of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan. The alliance was strong and they dominated the landscape of the map of Mexico for the next 100 years.

After the initial arrival of the Spanish expeditions led by Hernan Cortez, there were many political disputes and the Spanish decided to align with the Tlaxcallan people (a notable enemy of the Aztecs).

There was relative peace to begin with, but in future years the Spaniards and Tlaxcallan allies combined to attack and overthrow the mighty Aztec empire.

Some communities survived and continued to live alongside the other advanced Mesoamerican civilizations of the time. However, a succession of Smallpox outbreaks would further decimate the ever decreasing population within the country over the future years to come.

Aztec Buildin

Historical Aztec Traditions

The ancient traditions, beliefs and practices associated with early Mesoamerican religion are definitely not a subject for the faint-hearted.

The Central focus to cultural beliefs and actions at the time was the notion that in order for the world to continue functioning, a constant supply of blood and human sacrifice was needed.

The victims were usually acquired during battles and warfare.

If it was a time of peace though, then neighbouring groups would often engage in "flower wars".

These wars were essentially battles instigated (often without reason) by the Aztecs with nearby civilizations.

The intention of the wars was usually to capture potential new victims to be sacrificed. The Aztecs made many considerable advancements in trade, economy and agriculture throughout the confines of Mexican history. The Aztec Calender was very advanced for its time and was based around a 365 day cycle.

Although many of the actions practiced throughout Aztec history seem somewhat Shocking to us today, it is important to try an place the time frame in context. These practices happened a long, long time ago and they were not uncommon amongst many civilizations around this period.

The Aztec Mural of the Puma

Return to Riviera Maya Home Page

Maya Civilization

mayan pillars

The Olmecs

Small image of Olmec Head

Hernan Cortez

Spanish Expedition Ship

Map of Mexico

Small map of Mexico

Coba Ruins

View from the Coba Ruins

Chichen Itza

Close-up image of Chichen Itza

Mayan Architecture

Small image of Mayan Ruins


Pyrmaid at Muyil

Mayan Religion

Mayan Temple

History of Mexico

Aztec Calenda

Mexico Flag

The flag of Mexico