The Aztec shelter's main space was one room divided into four equal sections. There was a sleeping room for the entire family, a family shrine where gods would be housed, a kitchen where meals would be cooked, and an eating area. Thatched or tiered roofs would be present. The size of these roofs can give us some idea about the house size. The largest thatched roof in Mexico is at Templo de Ixtabnuva in Cholula (50 meters long by 4.5 meters wide). Other large structures with thatched roofs found in Mexico include the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in Cuernavaca and the House of Dolls in Tlaquepaque.
Aztec houses were made of wood, earth, and stone. The common wall structure consisted of layers of packed dirt or clay mixed with grass or straw and daubed with a lime-based paint to provide insulation against heat and cold. Each layer was carefully placed on top of the previous one to create a solid wall. Windows and doors would also have been made from wood. Metal tools and nails were used to construct houses during this time period.
There are no records of how many rooms were built into Mexican colonial homes, but historians assume they were similar in size to those of the Aztecs. Sleeping rooms would have had beds made of wooden frames filled with feathers or cotton batting. Blankets would have been used to cover up during cold nights.
Poorer Aztecs and commoners often resided in one-room houses made of adobe masonry with thatched roofs. Nobles were permitted to lavishly adorn their dwellings, whilst commoners were not. Many Aztecs whitewashed their dwellings with lime to reflect light and keep them cool. The nobility used more expensive materials for their homes.
Aztec society was based on blood lines - who you are related to determines your place in the hierarchy of the kingdom. If you weren't part of the royal family, you lived in poverty.
The average lifespan in early modern Mexico was about 40 years old. Most people died before reaching retirement age. However, some people did live longer than this - the chief priest of Quetzalcoatl could live up to 100 years old.
In order to maintain order, the king appointed judges at important courts where cases were decided by juries. These judges could include priests or other high-ranking members of society.
Women had few rights within Aztec culture. They could own property but they couldn't make legal contracts or act as judges. Within the nobility, women could hold offices such as secretary or treasurer but never king.
Children belonged to the father when he had them. He could give them away or sell them into slavery. If the father died, the children were left without protection or support.
To worship their gods, the Aztecs constructed temples. Temples served as a venue for worship music, a private ritual of personal bloodletting, and a location for the countless human sacrifices that the Aztecs thought were required to keep their gods happy. Some temples were enormous buildings. Others were just large platforms with walls around them where priests could perform rituals alone before large groups of people.
The main form of religion in Mexico was Catholic Christianity. However, the Spanish invaders who conquered much of Mexico converted many locals to Catholicism. The new believers built churches from which they evangelized other Mexicans. In time, many locals stopped practicing their own religions and simply attended church on Sundays instead.
However, there were several native Mexican religions. Each city or town had its own god whom everyone prayed to for help with problems like illness or drought. Sometimes these local gods would be adopted by followers of one of the larger gods in the area. For example, the Mayan god Kukulkan was adopted by followers of the Quetzalcoatlus, a bird-like figure from Aztec mythology.
Aztecs believed that humans were merely an animal among others. Like all other animals, they said, humans needed to feed themselves and provide for themselves. To do this, they needed to pray to the gods for guidance on what foods to harvest and when.
Aztec temples were dedicated to several gods since Aztec civilization was polytheistic. The temples were used for worship, petitions, and the sacrifice of human beings to the gods. Human sacrifices were a regular component of Aztec religious rites. The blood of the victims was used in rituals and also as a paint for decoration.
The most important temple for the Aztecs was the one at Chichén-Itzá, which was built about 1490 by King Kincélata. The other major temple was that of Huitzilopochtli, located in Mexico City. It was built around 1430 by Emperor Moctezuma I and is the largest pre-Hispanic building in Mexico.
Both temples were almost completely destroyed during the Spanish invasion of Mexico but have been well restored by Mexican authorities. Today, they are two of the most important tourist attractions in Mexico.
In addition to these two temples, there are several others across Mexico that date back to the Aztec period. Some of them are still standing today while others have been demolished over time. However, all had their parts used in religious ceremonies until the 19th century when they were finally abandoned.
Today, archaeologists know much about the daily life of the Aztecs through the objects found inside the ruins of their cities.
The Aztec temples were known as "Teocalli"—god houses—by the Mexica inhabitants of the empire. Aztec priests traveled to these temples to worship, pray, and give gifts to the gods in order to maintain them healthy and in balance. Identifying the Aztec temples has proven to be a difficult task at times. Although there are many theories about who may have built the various structures, no one knows for sure.
The first temple discovered by Europeans was the Teotihuacán Valley temple complex in 1786. This huge city was inhabited between 100 B.C. and A.D. 1550. It is believed that it took decades or even centuries to build such a large structure so close to a major water source. The city was abandoned after a smallpox epidemic killed most of its residents.
In 1824, Spanish explorers led by Antonio López de Santa Anna began the process of excavating the city of Mexico City, which has continued to this day. During their work they came across several more temples, including the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (also known as the Temple of the Plumed Serpent) near what is now Calle Tizapán in the Cuauhtémoc district. The Spaniards built small churches within the walls of the old city to serve as markers for where they had dug up relics during their excavations. These churches are still used today by Catholics in Mexico City.
Wealthy folks resided in stone or sun-dried brick houses. The Aztec ruler resided in a vast palace with numerous chambers and gardens. Every affluent person had a private bathing chamber, which was akin to a sauna or steam room. Bathing was a crucial component of the Aztecs' everyday existence. They spent much time in baths, either alone or with family members.
The average Aztec lived in small villages without any sort of infrastructure other than what they could build themselves. There were no roads in Mexico back then, so transportation was done by canoe, horse, or on foot. The only form of public lighting was the moon and the stars, so streets were empty after dark. There were no police or fire departments either - everyone was responsible for their own safety and that of their neighbors.
They did have a military though, made up of trained warriors who used weapons such as swords, spears, and bows and arrows. Soldiers earned respect from the community because fighting and winning wars kept their country rich and powerful.
In addition to warfare, the Aztecs employed priests and doctors who worked together to provide health services to the people. Priests performed religious rituals and duties such as baptizing babies and conducting funerals. Doctors treated patients using herbs and medicine; some even performed surgery!
Education was also important to the culture. Each town had schools where children learned reading, writing, mathematics, and religion.