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Aztecs Rituals

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Essay title: Aztecs Rituals

The Aztecs were a very civilized people for their time. In their culture they had roughly 15 million people in 500 towns with a capitol city, Tenochtitlan. 300,000 people lived in the capital city of Tenochtitlan. These numbers show the vastness of their people. In whatever the Aztecs did, whether it was building, conquering, or worshiping they did it to the fullest of their potential. The Aztecs had writings, records, taxes, maps and legal processes, which are extremely advanced processes for their time. They also were a very religious people, and their most known religious ceremony was that of human sacrifice to appease the gods.

One of the maps that have been obtained from an Aztec archive shows all of the rivers within a 400 mile radius of Tenochtitlan. Think about how much work that individual project would have taken. It would require a great amount of time, effort, and labor just on that particular map. Among other records found, in each temple made by the Aztecs, a collection of religious studies that dealt with the moon, the stars, and most importantly the sun were found. The Aztecs also employed scribes for each branch of knowledge. There was a scribe for genealogies, one for keeping track of newborns, and another for getting the deceased off of the list.

Three calendars were made by the Aztecs; the Xihuitl, which showed the agricultural year and the rituals related to seasons. The second calendar was called Tonalpohualli, this calendar was based on natural phenomenas. Both calendars were then combined to form a third calendar that was named Xiuhmolpilli. Theis calendar was a combination of both Xihuitl and Tonalpohualli. The Xiuhmopilli had a cycle of fifty two solar years. That is how long was needed so that Xihuitl and Tonalpohualli to have the same beginning and be on the same schedule. Each fifty-two year period was considered an era, at the end of each era it was believed that destruction might take place if sacrifices were not performed.

The idea of sacrifice is best explained through the story of “the five suns.” The story states that there were five suns; each sun represented an era in human life. Each of the first four eras ended by natural disasters such as floods or fires; the sun and the natural disaster that occurred in each era had the same name. Every person in each of the past four eras dies from the natural disasters, although it was believed that a select few people transform into different creatures, such as fish, to cope with what was happening and were able to survive through the natural disasters. The most important part of the story of “the five suns” that is needed to understand why the Aztecs sacrificed humans happens in the fifth era of the story. First, the Aztecs believed they were living in the fifth and final era. According to this story this era came about when the god of the age cast himself into a fire so he could become the sun. After this happened the god of the age became motionless. The other gods of this time decided to sacrifice their blood so that the god of the age, which is the sun now, would have the energy to be able to move throughout the sky. Second, the god Quetzalcoatl ventured into the underworld looking to retrieve what was left of the humans from the past four suns(eras). On his return he was forced into a battle with the Death Lord. The Death Lord broke the bones of the people during their battle. After the battle Quetzalcoatl returned to the realm of the gods and had the earth god grind the bones into meal which were spread out over the earth after the meal was sprinkled with blood from Quetzalcoatl’s penis. This created the race of humans. Lastly, it was believed that the fifth era will come to an end when the sun does not receive enough blood to continue his course, and earthquakes will destroy the world

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