Facts about Aztecs

Aztec Civilization

Fact: In 1487, the Aztecs sacrificed over 10,000 people in just four days.

Abstract: Like many ancient civilizations, the Aztecs believed in human sacrifice as repayment and apology to the gods that they worshipped. This was seen as a regular occurrence. However, in 1487, the scope of these sacrifices was greatly enlarged with the “inauguration” of the Great Temple of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Victims lined up on all sides of the pyramid only to be led to the top, slaughtered, and thrown off the side of the Temple. Find out the facts about the human sacrifices of the Aztecs, the history of how sacrifices came to be, and the logistics of the slaughter in 1487.

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Aztec civilization

According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, the Aztec civilization, by definition, is one that existed in Mesoamerica between 1345 and 1521 CE. They were known for performing human sacrifices often and in an inhumane manner. The encyclopedia points to stories of beating hearts ripped out of bodies, decapitation of sacrifices, and much more. They regarded this as a required ritual so mankind would prosper.

The Olmec civilization

A much older civilization named the Olmec was the first to practice human sacrifice rituals. They are said to have existed some time from 1200 BC to 300 BC. Because they existed so long ago, there is less concrete facts to be stated about the Olmecs. There are few written records of their existence, but many artifacts have been found. It is known, however, that the Olmecs used human sacrifice, but not on the scope of the Aztecs.

The Art of Sacrifice

In the times of the Aztecs, Mesoamerican culture ruled the beliefs of the people. They worshipped gods and believed human sacrifices to be “repayment” for the creation of the world. This arose especially from the story of the reptilian monster. The monster Cipactli was ripped apart to create the Earth and the skies and everything in between. The spirit of the monster was said to grow still from human hearts and human blood. Thus the Aztecs sacrificed people to please the soul of the monster that was sacrificed for Creation. In another myth, humans were created by the theft of bones from the Underworld. Human sacrifices in this version were an apology for doing so.

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The Sacrifice of 1487

The scene is set:

The Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan contains the Great Temple. Under orders of the Aztec King Ahuitzotl, priests lead victims to their death over the course of four days. The “killing rate” is said to be fourteen victims a minute. This is far more than Auschwitz during the Holocaust. How did they do it? Priests worked in shifts at “killing tables,” then kicked dead bodies over the side of the great pyramid. This served as an inauguration of the Great Temple and was seen by them as a great act of sacrifice that allowed them to conquer Mesoamerica.

Mixed Numbers

Over 10,000 died in the sacrifices of those four days. However, there is mixed information about the exact number. Schweikart and Allen, in their book A Patriot’s History of the United States, claim the number to be between 11,520 and 80,400. This is, of course, a big jump of nearly 70,000 potential victims. But with so little concrete written information at that time in history, the brutality of the sacrifices cannot be concrete.

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