Sacrifice: The Aztec Past time Merriam Webster (2014) defines sacrifice as “an act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone” (p. 1). Every Mesoamerican society practiced sacrifice in some way, including the Mayans, Incans, and especially the Aztecs. The question is why was sacrifice so prevalent in these societies? The primary reason for sacrifice in Mesoamerican culture is religion. Of all Mesoamerican cultures the Aztecs were the most war-like.
1 Some estimates claim 20,000 human sacrifices a year. The loss of human life would not only weaken the Aztec empire but brought hatred upon the people of the powerful city of Tlaxcala. Many of their own people had been sacrificed, and at the end, the people of Tlaxcala joined forces with the Spanish army to fight the Aztecs. 2 Aztec authority, Henry Nicholson said that among the Aztecs, “human sacrifice was practiced on a scale not even approached by any other ritual system in the history of the world”. Spanish sources report that over 80,000 victims were sacrificed at the dedication of the Great Temple in 1487.
God vs. Mayas People of all time have searched to understand how the earth and humanity developed. There are many wondrous, mysterious aspects of life which cannot be explained with scientific or measurable proof. Also there are many stories that talk about the creation of the earth. History has left us some creation myths which serve to point us in the right direction by hypothesizing the events that led up to human creation. Two of the most popular myths are Genesis and the Popul Vuh, which explains how the earth was created and how humans were created.
Most scholars of Pre-Columbian civilization see human sacrifice among the Aztecs as a part of the long cultural tradition of human sacrifice in Mesoamerica. Contents [hide] 1 The antecedents of Mesoamerican sacrifice 2 The role of sacrifice in Mesoamerica 2.1 The 52-year cycle 3 Sacrifices to specific gods 3.1 Huitzilopochtli 3.2 Tezcatlipoca 3.3 Huehueteotl 3.4 Tlaloc 3.5 Xipe Totec 4 The Flower Wars 5 The sacrifice ritual 6 Estimates of the scope of the sacrifices 7 Discussion of primary sources 7.1 Accounts from the Grijalva expeditions 7.2 Juan Díaz 7.3 Bernal Díaz
I started this book with the mindset of thinking I knew a decent amount of information regarding the Aztecs, yet apparently I knew nothing. With every chapter I read came new insights into the culture of the Aztecs. By chapter 13, I felt as if I had seen the events play out right before my very eyes. Imagining the market and its sea of people, the “priests” draped in all black, and the sacrificial rituals was done with ease while reading this book. Von Hagen definitely did a great deal of research before attempting to write this book.
They believed that Montezuma had offered his valuables freely. This interpretation of the events illustrates the Spaniards’ attempt to appear virtuous and showcases their need to embellish their success in retrieving gold. Meanwhile, the Aztecs believed Montezuma was forced into this offering: “The Spaniards questioned him closely and then demanded gold.” The Aztec explanation of the events suggests a distrust in the Spanish and demonstrates their belief that the Spaniards’ arrival destroyed their society. The discrepancy between the two accounts is due to the biased viewpoints of the writers. The truth, however, can be found in-between the two stories.
Many factors influenced the conquering of the Aztec people by the Spaniards including the Aztec’s religion, Spain’s superior weapons, alliances, and disease. The first cause of the Aztec’s fall was their religion. They practiced polytheism and used human sacrifice to keep their gods happy. The Aztec’s believed their god Quetzalcoatl planned to return in human form and rule them. The Aztec people mistook Cortes and his soldiers for Quetzalcoatl.
Initially, small tribes greeted them and bestowed them with gifts, and Cortes even acquired a translator named Malinche who would play a crucial role in the downfall of her own people. As the Spaniards moved further inland towards the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, they encountered larger groups of Indians, but there was little to no resistance. The question has often been discussed of why the Aztecs did not attack the Spaniards at this point. Cortes and his men were an obvious threat, and the Aztecs could have easily raised an army that would have far outnumbered Cortes’ 500 soldiers. The answer is that the
According to the given information the religious, economic, and political traditions of the Aztecs, best describe their society. Their religion was a unique one in which they were loyal to the gods and their agriculture which was truly innovative. The most prominent feature of the Aztecs is their religious traditions, especially their sacrificial rituals. The Aztec civilization is very religious, such as making an enemy warrior into that of a living god of which they gave the finest royalties to until the end of the year, at which the Aztecs publicly dismembered him. The process in which they sacrifice their victims in their ritual is that they slice open the chest and withdraw the heart and raise it to the sun, then throw into the shrine
Compare the two dominant civilizations of the Americas: the Aztecs in Central America and the Incas in South America. The Aztecs and the Incas were two of the most influential and powerful empires. While having different geographic locations, these two civilizations were very much alike. For example, their living standards and religious beliefs. What set the Aztecs and Incas apart was that the Aztecs were pioneers of modern education, requiring all children to get a formal education regardless of sex, class or status.