Culture & Literature



They're known for their funky patterns, appetite for chocolate and their love of human sacrifice, but what were the Aztecs really like? Explore their fateful origin story, and see how they built a floating city in the middle of a lake. Find out what life was like for an Aztec warrior, and discover the truth about their mysterious religion. Finally, experience their rapid downfall at the hands of brutal Spanish colonisers, and examine how they made their mark on the Mexico of today. All About History's Book of the Aztecs is not one to be missed.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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$11.62(Incl. tax)

in this issue

1 min.
welcome to aztecs

In 1521, an empire came tumbling down. The Aztecs had ruled in Mesoamerica for 200 years but the Spanish, led by the fearsome Hernán Cortés, were closing in, eager to claim this part of the New World for themselves. It was the end of a rich culture and an entire civilisation – but even so, the Aztec legacy lives on today. In All About History Book of the Aztecs, uncover the gruesome truth behind human sacrifice and learn what everyday life was really like. Walk the streets of Tenochtitlán, meet the extensive pantheon and cook up some authentic recipes as you explore the world of the Aztecs.…

8 min.
secrets of the aztecs

Despite being isolated within the deep, dark, unforgiving jungles of Central America, for over 300 years the ancient Aztecs defied their reputation as blood-obsessed barbarians by pioneering many of the scientific and technological advances we take for granted today. What’s more, they did so across a broad range of fields, from astronomy to medicine, hoarding their acquired knowledge within huge libraries of codices that contained the secrets to the vast and impressive society they had built. Unfortunately, much of this knowledge was lost forever when the Spanish conquistadors of Hernán Cortés brought the civilisation to their knees in the early-16th century, with these supposedly heretical texts burned en masse. Luckily, a few records of Aztec scientific knowledge survived and today historians are working tirelessly to unlock their secrets. Read on to…

1 min.
the aztec alphabet

A E I O U If you needed any further evidence of the advanced state of Aztec learning, then analysis of the society’s alphabet seals the deal. The Aztec alphabet was split into three different sections, utilising pictograms, ideograms and phonograms. Pictograms were symbols representing exactly what they were, so a snake pictogram would mean ‘snake’ and be pronounced ‘snake.’ On the other hand, phonograms were pictures representing sounds, a lot like the vast majority of alphabets today, with letters representing specific sounds that words can be constructed from. The Aztec alphabet contained four basic vowels and a large selection of consonants including cu, hu and ch. Finally, ideograms were the most abstract part of the alphabet, consisting of symbols that represented an entire idea. For example, a footprint symbol in the Aztec alphabet represented a…

2 min.
the aztec calendar

The Aztec calendar consisted of a 365-day cycle, referred to as a ‘year count’, and a 260-day cycle, referred to as a ‘day count’. Together, these two cycles formed a 52-year century or ‘calendar round’ for the civilisation, with the former based on the movements of the sun and the latter based on religious belief. The year-count cycle consisted of eighteen 20-day months, with a separate five-day period at the end that was considered unlucky. The day-count cycle consisted of twenty 13-day periods referred to as trecena, with each trecena attributed to a different god. While it is obvious that many parts of the their calendar system were inaccurate, the fact that the Aztecs could harness their advancements in astronomy and mathematics to create a calendar that was so close to…

2 min.
el templo mayor

“Aztecs granted prestige to the position of doctor and encouraged them to study the human body and potential remedies” Originally constructed in 1325 and then added to and extended six times afterwards, the massive Templo Mayor citadel of Tenochtitlán was surely one of the wonders of the ancient world, towering over the Aztec city state’s other structures at close to 30 m (90 ft) in height. Indeed, by the time it was eventually sacked and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century, the pyramid temple consisted of four steep sloped terraces topped with a great platform measuring 80 x 100 m (262 x 328 ft), with a further two sets of stone stairs leading to a pair of grand shrines. Every part of the temple was decorated with carvings…

11 min.
origins of the aztecs

According to legend, the Aztecs arrived in present-day Mexico from their ancestral, mythical homeland of Aztlán around 1000 CE. They first lived in Chicomoztoc (the mysterious ‘place of seven caves’) and then founded Aztlán, which was an area surrounded by water. Indeed, the word Aztec is said to mean ‘people from Aztlán’, although this was not a word that the citizen of Tenochtitlán (the city founded on the shores of Lake Texcoco) used to refer to themselves. Whether Aztlán ever existed or is just a mythical place is also a point of considerable historical debate, to which there is no clear answer. If it were a real place, some have speculated that it may have been located in what is now northern Mexico – or perhaps even in the southern…