Aztec religion depended on a complex mythology that explained the birth and history of the gods and their relationship to peoples, and on a religious symbolism that infused all aspects of life.
The calendar system was religious and many ceremonies coincide with certain points in the calendar cycle.
The Aztec stone calendar is 12 feet across and 4 feet thick and has been destroyed four times.
It weighs about 24 tons.
Traditional forms of agriculture and innovations developed by the Aztecs helped to feed the great population of Tenochtitlan and the Aztec confederation.
Food was sometimes demanded as a tribute to the lands of conquered peoples.
The beds of aquatic weeds, mud, and earth were placed in frames made of cane and roots to the lake floor.
Artificial floating islands were made of cane and were about 17 feet long.
The narrow construction allowed the water to reach all the plants, and to create "floating islands."
System willow trees were planted at intervals to give shade and help fix the roots.
More than 20,000 Aztecs lived in the southern end of the lake, which was the origin of much of the land utilized by Tenochtitlan.
Four corn crops a year were possible from chinampa agriculture.
A rise in the level of the lakes made it impossible for this system of irrigation to continue.
The Aztecs carried out chinampa construction on a grand scale after 1200 when water levels were lowered again.
Basic foods were provided by the Aztec peasantry.
Some of the lands were set aside for support of the temples and the state.
Private estates may have been worked by slaves from conquered peoples.
Every 5 and 13 days, a wide variety of goods were exchanged at the periodic markets in each community.
Cacao beans and gold dust were used as barter.
The markets were under the control of the merchant class in Aztec society.
Despite the importance of markets, this was not a market economy that specialized in long-distance trade.
The state redistributed a lot of tribute received from the peoples who were below them.
Political and economic ends were served by tribute payments.
Each year tens of thousands of cotton cloth mantles were collected and sent to Tenochtitlan.
These goods were redistributed by the Aztec state.
The commoners received less than the nobility after the original conquests.
Aztec society experienced changes over time.
The Mexica was based on the peoples who spoke the Nahuatl language who occupied the region of central Mexico.
As hunters and gatherers they emerged as a dominant power and their rise disappeared.
There were opportunities for some groups and a loss of status for others.
Aztec society faced technological sway over the 50 or so political units of the central valley of Mexico.
The priests and the cults of the temples were able to maintain a large population in society because of the religious basis for expansion that made it difficult for the warriors.
The support of these sectors of society allowed the ruler to govern.
The nature of Aztec society was changed by these policies.
The calpulli did not include residential groups that included neighbors, allies, distributed land and provided labor and dependants.
The calpulli was an important part of Aztec local life.
Calpulli were governed by a council of family heads, but not all families were equal.
The calpulli was the basic building block of Aztec society.
In the ori gins of Aztec society every person, noble, and commoner had belonged to a calpul i but as Aztec power increased, the calpulli had been transformed and other forms of social stratification had emerged.
A class of nobility emerged as the empire grew.
This group of nobles accumulated high offices, private lands, and other advantages from their ancestors.
The military and administrative nobility of the Aztec state overshadowed the most prominent families in the calpulli, who had dominated leadership roles and formed a kind of local nobility.
Most nobles were born into the class, even though some commoners might be promoted to noble status.
The military leadership was controlled by Nobles.
The military was organized according to experience and success in taking captives.
Military virtues were used to justify the nobility's status because of the cult of sacrifice.
The "flowery death," or death while taking prisoners for the sacrifice knife, was the fitting end to a noble life and ensured eternity in the highest heaven--a reward also promised to women who died in childbirth.
The military was ritualized.
The Jaguar and Eagle "Knights" were ordered to fight together as a unit.
Banners, cloaks, and other insignia are marked off the military ranks.