Template:Aztec The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican people of central Mexico in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. They called themselves Mexicas, which was reflected in the name of the later Republic of Mexico. The civilization has a rich mythology and cultural heritage. The capital was Tenochtitlan, built on raised islets in Lake Texcoco – the site of modern-day Mexico City.




Aztec is usually used as a historical term, although some contemporary Nahuatl-speakers would consider themselves Aztecs. More particularly, the term refers to the empire of the Mexicas as distinguished from the Mexicas alone. This article deals with the historical Aztec civilization, not with modern-day Nahuatl speakers.

In Nahuatl, the native language of the Mexicas, Azteca means "someone who comes from Aztlán", a place commonly believed to be located in northern Mexico or the Southwest U.S. (though there is great doubt about this, see current debates in Mexica scholarship), so this name was applied to other cultures of the same cultural group. However, the culture we call now Aztec referred to themselves as Mexica (IPA: ) or Tenochca and Tlatelolca according their city of origin. Their use of the word Azteca was like the modern use of Latino, or Mediterranean: a broad term that does not refer to a specific culture.

Ironically, the Aubin Codex relates that after leaving Aztlan, Huitzilopochtli ordered his people not to use the word Azteca, instead they should be known as Mexica. The conquistadores knew them as "Mexica".

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Sculpture commemorating the moment when Aztecs found the omen from the god Huitzilopochtli signaling the location where their capital city Tenochtitlan should be built. This sculpture is in Mexico City.

In 1810 Alexander von Humboldt originated the modern usage of "Aztec" as a collective term applied to all the people linked by trade, custom, religion , and language to the Mexica state and the Triple Alliance. In 1843, with the publication of the work of William Prescot, it became adopted by most of the world, including the Mexican scholars of 19th century, as a way to distance "modern" Mexicans from pre-conquest Mexicans. This usage has been the subject of debate in more recent years, and consequently, the more proper usage "Mexica" is increasingly applied. The Museo Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, for example, refers to these people as Mexica.


Mexica, the origin of the word Mexico, is a term of uncertain origin. Very different etymologies are proposed: the old Nahuatl word for the sun, the name of their leader Mexitli, or a type of weed that grows in Lake Texcoco.

The renowned Nahuatl translator, Miguel León-Portilla, suggests that it is derived from mexictli, "navel of the moon", from Nahuatl metztli (moon) and xictli (navel). Alternatively, mexictli could mean "navel of the maguey" using the Nahuatl metl and the locative "co".


The Aztec Empire is not completely analogous to the empires of European history. Like most European empires, it was ethnically very diverse, but unlike most European empires, it was more a system of tribute than a single system of government. Arnold Toynbee in his preface to War and Civilization draws an analogy to the Assyrian Empire in this respect.

Tribute, trade, and roads

Cities under Aztec rule seem to have paid heavy tributes immediately after they were conquered. Tributes were extracted from a broad base and took many forms including luxury goods like feathers and adorned suits as well as more practical goods.

Archaeological excavations in the Aztec-ruled provinces show a steady increase in the welfare of common people. Only the upper classes seem to have suffered economically under the Aztec conqueror, and only at first. This increase in the overall welfare was likely due to an increase in trade, itself a result of better roads and communications. This trade seems to have been broad-based, extending even to the enemies of the Aztecs: the Tarascans, for example, were a source of copper axes.

The main contribution of the Aztec rule was a system of communications between the conquered cities. In Mesoamerica, without draft animals for transport (nor, as a result, wheeled vehicles), the roads were designed for travel on foot. Usually these roads were maintained through tribute, and travelers had places to rest and eat and even latrines to use at regular intervals, roughly every 10 or 15 km. Couriers (paynani) were constantly traveling along those ways, keeping the Aztecs informed of events, and helping to monitor the integrity of the roads. Due to the steady surveillance, even women could travel alone, a fact that amazed the Spaniards since that was not possible in Europe at that time.

After the conquest those roads were nor longer subject to maintenance and were eventually lost.

The emperor

The most important official of Tenochtitlan government is often referred to as the Aztec Emperor. The Nahuatl title, Huey Tlatoani (plural Huey Tlatoque), translates roughly as "Great Speaker". This office gradually took on more power with the rise of Tenochtitlan. By the time of Auitzotl, the title of Emperor had become a more appropriate analogy for this office, although as in the Holy Roman Empire, the title was not hereditary. The Emperor was still chosen by the elders --although they preferred to keep the title within one family, they also could remove it.

The title has some resemblance to the Roman Emperor's title during the Principate (Princeps Senatus, or "First Citizen of the Senate"): both titles started as a "speaker of the house", but later coalesced more power into an "Emperor" type of office.

It is doubted whether Hernán Cortés understood the nuances of this role and overestimated the influence of Moctezuma on his people, perhaps assuming he wielded power similar to Charles V, King of Spain.

Each day, the Huey Tlatoani met with the elders and the priest of the different precincts of the city (calpulli) to discuss the government. Originally the elders had to sanction every decision of the Huey Tlatoani. When Moctezuma assumed the office, he replaced the counsellors, priests and administrators with his former students, thereby gaining more independence than former Tlatoanis. Yet his orders still could be questioned by the elders.

Mythology and religion

The , from Aztec mythology
The Coat of Arms of Mexico, from Aztec mythology
Main article: Aztec mythology.

It is important to note that Mexica conceptualizations of the supernatural were different from those of Europeans who encountered them in the context of military subjugation. The Mexica made reference to at least two manifestations of the supernatural: teotl and teixiptla. Teotl, which the Spaniards and European scholars routinely mistranslated as "god" or "demon", referred rather to an impersonal force that permeated the world. Teixiptla, by contrast, denoted the physical representations ("idols", statues and figurines) of the teotl as well as the human cultic activity surrounding this physical representation. The Mexica "gods" themselves had no existence as distinct entities apart from these teixiptla representations of teotl (Boone 1989).

Veneration of Huitzilopochtli (literally, "hummingbird of the south"), the personification of the sun and of war, was central to the religious, social and political practices of the Mexica. Huitzilopochtli attained this central position after the founding of Tenochtitlan and the formation of the Mexica city-state society in the 14th century. Prior to this, Huitzilopochtli was assocated primarily with hunting, presumably one of the important subsistence activities of the itinerant bands that would eventually become the Mexica.

According to myth, Huitzilopochtli directed the wanderers to found a city on the site where they would see an eagle devouring a snake perched on a fruit-bearing nopal cactus. (It was said that Huitzilopochtli killed his nephew, Cópil, and threw his heart on the lake. Huitzilopochtli honoured Cópil by causing a cactus to grow over Cópil´s heart.) Legend has it that this is the site on which the Mexicas built their capital city of Tenochtitlan. This legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of Arms of Mexico.

According to their own history, when the Mexicas arrived in the Anahuac valley (Valley of Mexico) around Lake Texcoco, they were considered by the groups living there as uncivilized. The Mexicas borrowed much of their culture from the ancient Toltec whom they seem to have at least partially confused with the more ancient civilization of Teotihuacan. To the Mexicas, the Toltecs were the originators of all culture; "Toltecayotl" was a synonym for culture. Mexica legends identify the Toltecs and the cult of Quetzalcoatl with the mythical city of Tollan, which they also identified with the more ancient Teotihuacan.

Human sacrifice

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Aztec sacrifice
Main article: Human sacrifice in Aztec culture

For most people today, and for the European Christians who first met the Aztecs, human sacrifice was and is the most striking feature of Aztec civilization.

Although practiced throughout the empire, Tenochititlan, as the center of power, was an important site for human sacrifice. For the reconsecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs reported that they sacrificed about 84,400 prisoners over the course of four days, reportedly by Ahuitzotl, the Great Speaker himself. This report is hardly credible not only because it would mean almost 15 sacrifices per minute for 24 hours a day but also because the city of Tenochtitlan itself had an estimated population of only 80,000 to 120,000 at that time. It is possible the Aztecs inflated the number as a propaganda tool to instill fear in the other Mesoamerican cultures.

Similarly the sheer number of skulls reported by Bernal Díaz del Castillo would have occupied several orders of magnitude more space than the 30 meters they did.

Assessment of the practice of human sacrifice

In the writings of Bernardino de Sahagún, Aztec "anonymous informants" defended the practice of human sacrifice by asserting that it was not much different than the European way of waging warfare: Europeans killed the warriors in battle, Aztecs killed the warriors after the battle.

Accounts by the Tlaxcalteca, the primary enemy of the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish Conquest, show that at least some of them considered it an honor to be sacrificed. In one legend, the warrior Tlahuicole was freed by the Aztecs but eventually returned of his own volition to die in ritual sacrifice. Tlaxcala also practiced the human sacrifice of captured Aztec warriors.

The Structure of Aztec Society

Main article: Aztec social structure

Class structure

The society traditionally was divided into two social classes; the macehualli (people) or peasantry and the pilli or nobility. Nobility was not originally hereditary, although the sons of pillis had access to better resources and education, so it was easier for them to become pillis. Eventually, this class system took on hereditary aspects.

In the later days of the empire, the concept of macehualli also had changed. Eduardo Noguera (Annals of Anthropology, UNAM, Vol. xi, 1974, p. 56) estimates only 20% of the population was dedicated to agriculture and food production. The other 80% of society were not only warriors, but also skilled artisans and aggressive traders. Eventually, most of the macehuallis were dedicated to arts and crafts. Their works were an important source of income for the city (Sanders, William T., Settlement Patterns in Central Mexico. Handbook of Middle American Indians, 1971, vol. 3, p. 3-44).


Slaves or tlacotin (distinct from war captives) also constituted an important class. This slavery was very different from what Europeans of the same period were to establish in their colonies, although it had much in common with the slavery of classical antiquity.

Sahagún questions whether the term "slavery" is appropriate for this Aztec institution. First, slavery was personal, not hereditary: a slave's children were free. A slave could have possessions and even own other slaves. Slaves could buy their liberty, and slaves could be set free if they were able to show they had been mistreated or if they had children with or were married to their masters.

Typically, upon the death of the master, slaves who had performed outstanding services were freed. The rest of the slaves were passed on as part of an inheritance.

An Aztec could be made a slave as a punishment. A murderer sentenced to death could instead, upon the request of the wife of his victim, be given to her as a slave. A father could sell his son into slavery if the son was declared incorrigible by an authority. Those who did not pay their debts could also be sold as slaves.

People could sell themselves as slaves. They could stay free long enough to enjoy the price of their liberty, about twenty blankets, usually enough for a year; after that time they went to their new master. Usually this was the fate of gamblers and of old ahuini (courtesans or prostitutes).

Daily Life


The Aztec staple foods included maize, beans and squash to which were often added chilis and tomatoes, all prominent parts of the Mexican diet to this day. They harvested acocils, a small and abundant shrimp of Lake Texcoco, as well as spirulina algae, which was made into a sort of cake rich in flavonoids. The Aztecs consumed insects such as crickets (chapulines), maguey worms, ants, larvae, etc. Insects have a higher protein content than meat, and even now they are considered a delicacy in some parts of Mexico.

Aztecs also used maguey extensively; from it they obtained food, sugar (aguamiel–honey water), drink (pulque), and fibers for ropes and clothing. They also kept beehives and harvested honey. Cocoa grains were used as money but also to make a chocolate drink much like beer.

Although one could drink pulque, a fermented beverage with an alcoholic content equivalent to beer, getting drunk before the age of 60 was forbidden. First offenses drew relatively light punishment but repeat offenses could be punished by death.

Much has been said about a lack of animal proteins in the Aztec diet. Although the Aztecs had domestic animals, like turkey and some dog breeds, these were few and usually reserved for special occasions. Hunting -- deer, wild hogs, ducks-- was also another source of meat, although the eventual population within the Valley of Mexico precluded hunting as a major food source.

This comparative lack of animal protein has been used by some to postulate the existence of widespread cannibalism (M. Harner, Am. Ethnol. 4, 117 (1977)), although there is little evidence to support it. A combination of maize and beans provides the full quota of essential amino acids, precluding a widespread need for animal protein. The Aztecs had a great diversity of maize strains, with a wide range of amino acid content. They also cultivated amaranth, whose seeds have a high protein content, and cultivated chia.

A study by Montellano (Medicina, Nutrición y Salud Aztecas, 1997) shows a mean life expectancy of 37 (±3) years for the population of Mesoamerica.

After the Spanish conquest, some foods were outlawed, particularly amaranth because of its central role in religious rituals. There was less diversity of food which led to chronic malnutrition in the general population.


As in modern Mexico, the Aztecs had strong passions over a ball game, but this in their case it was tlachtli, the Aztec variant of the Mesoamerican ballgame. The game was played with a ball of solid rubber, about the size of a human head. The ball was called olli, whence derives the Spanish word for rubber, hule. The city had two special buildings for the ball games. The players hit the ball with their hips, knees, and elbows. They had to pass the ball through a stone ring to automatically win. This was difficult, so they could hit markers on the walls to earn points. The fortunate player that could do this had the right to take the blankets of the public, so his victory was followed by general running of the public, with screams and laughter.

People bet on the games. Poor people could bet their food, pillis could bet their fortunes, tecutlis (lords) could bet their concubines or even their cities, and those who had nothing could bet their freedom and risk becoming slaves.

The Aztecs also enjoyed board games, like patolli and totoloque. Bernal Diaz records that Cortés and Moctezuma II played totoloque together.


Song and poetry were highly regarded; there were presentations and poetry contests at most of the Aztec festivals. Also there was a kind of dramatic presentation that included players, musicians and acrobats.


Poetry was the only occupation worthy of an Aztec warrior in times of peace. A remarkable amount of this poetry survives, having been collected during the era of the conquest. In some cases, we know names of individual authors, such as Netzahualcoyotl, Tolatonai of Texcoco, and Cuacuatzin, Lord of Tepechpan. Miguel León-Portilla, the most renowned translator of Nahuatl, comments that it is in this poetry where we can find the real thought of the Aztecs, independent of "official" Aztec ideology.

In the basement of the Great Temple there was the "house of the eagles", where in peacetime Aztec captains could drink a foaming chocolate, smoke good cigars, and have poetry contests. The poetry was accompanied by percussion instruments (teponaztli). Recurring themes in this poetry are whether life is real or a dream, whether there is an afterlife, and whether we can approach the giver of life.

The most important collection of these poems is Romances de los señores de la Nueva España, collected (Tezcoco 1582), probably by Juan Bautista de Pomar. This volume was later translated into Spanish by Ángel María Garibay K., teacher of León-Portilla. Bautista de Pomar was the great grandson of Netzahualcoyotl. He spoke Nahuatl, but was raised as Christian and wrote in Latin characters.


The Aztec people also enjoyed a type of dramatic presentation, although it could not be called theater. Some were comical with music and acrobats, others were staged dramas of their gods. After the conquest, the first Christian churches had open chapels reserved for these kinds of representations. Plays in Nahuatl, written by converted Indians, were an important instrument for the conversion to Christianity, and are still found today in the form of traditional pastorelas, which are played during Christmas to show the Adoration of Baby Jesus, and other Biblical passages.


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Representation of Aztec education.

The Mexica, one of the Aztec groups, were one of the first people in the world to have mandatory education for nearly all children, regardless of gender, rank, or station. There were two types of schools: the telpochcalli, for practical and military studies, and the calmecac, for advanced learning in writing, astronomy, statesmanship, theology, and other areas. The institutions seem to be common to the Nahua groups, so they were possibly older than the Aztec.

Until the age of fourteen, the education of children was in the hands of their parents, but supervised by the authorities of their calpulli. Periodically they attended their local temples, to test their progress.

Part of their education involved learning a collection of sayings, called huehuetlatolli ("The sayings of the old"), that embodied the Aztecs' ideals. It included speeches and sayings for every occasion, the words to salute the birth of children, and to say farewell at death. Fathers admonished their daughters to be very clean, but not to use makeup, because they would look like ahuianis. Mothers admonished their daughters to support their husbands, even if they turn out to be humble peasants. Boys were admonished to be humble, obedient and hard workers. Judging by their language, most of the huehuetlatolli seemed to have been composed and evolved along several centuries, so some of the predated the aztec and were taken from other nahua cultures, and adopted by the Aztec as their own.

Boys and girls went to school at age 15. Probably this was one of the first societies that required education for all its members, without regard of gender or social status. There were two types of educational institutions: the telpochcalli and the calmecac.

The telpochcalli or House of the Young, taught history, religion, military fighting arts, and a trade or craft (such as agriculture or handicrafts). Some of the telpochcalli students were chosen for the army, but most of them returned to their homes.

The calmecac, attended mostly by the sons of pillis, was focused on turning out leaders (tlatoque), priests, scholars/teachers (tlatimini), healers (tizitl) and codex painters (tlacuilos). They studied rituals, ancient and contemporary history, literacy, calendrics, some elements of geometry, songs (poetry), and, as at the telpochcalli, military arts.

Each calpulli specialized in some handicrafts, and this was an important part of the income of the city. So the teaching of handicraft was highly valued.

Also, the healers or Tizitl had several specialities. Some were trained to just inspect and classify medicinal plants, others were training just in the preparation of medicines that were sold in special places (Tlapalli), more than a hundred preparations are known, including deodorants, remedies for smelly feet, dentifric paste etc. Also there were Tizitl specialized in surgery, digestive disease, teeth and nose, skin diseases etc.

Aztec teachers or Tlatimine, propounded a spartan regime of education – cold baths in the morning, hard work, physical punishment, bleeding with maguey thorns and endurance tests – with the purpose of forming a stoical people.

There is contradictory information about whether calmecac was reserved for the sons and daughters of the pillis; some accounts said they could choose where to study. It is possible that the common people preferred the telpochcalli, because a warrior could advance more readily by his military abilities; becoming a priest or a tlacuilo was not a way to rise rapidly from a low station.

Girls were educated in the crafts of home and child raising. They were not taught to read or write. Some of them were educated as midwives and received the full training of a healer and they were called also Tizitl. Woment Ticitl would treat women almost along all along their reproductive life. They would admonish the young wives, and after the second month, they would began watch them for any problems. Probalby because they were women, they prefer to save the woman life over the newborns life, resorting to enbriotomy. Becuase of this, their work Temiuxiuliztli, sometimes has been translated as "obstetrics" (Medicine in Mexico, before the Discovery. Dr. Manuel Valdez 1992). All women were taught to be involved "in the things of god", there are paintings of women presiding over religious ceremonies, but there are no references to female priests.

There were also two other opportunities for those few who had talent. Some were chosen for the house of song and dance, and others were chosen for the ball game. Both occupations had high status.


Main article: Tenochtitlan

Tenochtitlán, looking east.  From the mural painting at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Painted in 1930 by .
Tenochtitlán, looking east. From the mural painting at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Painted in 1930 by Dr. Atl.

Tenochitlan was the capital city of the Aztec empire, now the site of modern-day Mexico City.

Built on a series of islets in Lake Texcoco, the city plan was based on a symmetrical layout that was divided into four city sections called campans. Each campan was divided in 20 precincts called calpulli. The calpullis were divided by canals called tlaxilcalli.

The canals were useful for transportation with rafts made with totoras. There were also rafts for collecting garbage and other ones to collect excrement that was used for fertilization on the chinampas on Lake Texcoco -- long raised beds upon which crops were cultivated. Chinampas were a very efficient system and could provide up to seven crops a year. On the basis of current chinampa yields, it has been estimated that 1 hectare of chinampa would feed 20 individuals, with about 9,000 hectares of chinampa, there was food for 180,000 people.

Perhaps one thousand people were employed for street cleaning. Bernal Díaz del Castillo wrote how he was surprised at finding latrines in homes, public markets, and on the paths.

Modern historians estimate, at its peak, the population of Tenochtitlan was between 60,000 to 130,000 inhabitants. Thus, it was surpassed in population only by Constantinople with about 200,000 inhabitants, Paris with about 250,000, and Venice with about 160,000.

Anthropologist Eduardo Noguera, estimates the population at 200,000 based in the house count and merging the population of Tlatelolco (once an independent city, but later became a suburb of Tenochtitlan). If one includes the surrounding islets and shores surrounding Lake Texcoco, estimates range from 300,000 to 700,000 inhabitants.


Main article: History of the Aztecs


Most modern Mexicans are of mixed Spanish and indigenous ancestry. Thus, they are descendants of the Mexicas or of the many other indigenous peoples of the Aztec Empire and beyond.

Nahuatl is still spoken by Mexican Indians (who still claim Yo hablo mexicano – "I speak Mexican"), mostly in mountainous areas in the states surrounding Mexico City. Moreover, Nahuatl survives among the entire Mexican population, comprising a significant part of the Mexican Spanish dialect, some of which has even come into American English.

Mexico City was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, making it one of the oldest living cities of America. Many of its districts and natural landmarks retain their original Nahuatl names. Many other cities and towns in Central Mexico were also originally Mexica towns, also often retaining their original Nahuatl names, or combining them with Spanish.

Mexican cuisine continues to be based on and flavored by agricultural products contributed by the Mexicas/Aztecs and MesoAmerica, most of which retain some form of their original Nahuatl names. The cuisine has also become a popular part of the cuisine of the United States and other countries around the world, typically altered to suit various national tastes.

The modern Mexican flag bears the emblem of the Mexica's migration legend.

The Mexica earth mother goddess Tonantzin lives on in the guise of Mexico's premier religious icon, the Virgen of Guadalupe.

For the 1986 FIFA World Cup Adidas designed the official match ball showing in its "triades" aztecs architect and mural designs and called "Azteca Mexico".[1] (

See also

Discussion of sources

Each of the historical sources has its own unique problems. None of the sources is free from bias and every source must be viewed with some skepticism until cross-checked against other contemporary sources or the archaeological records.

There are only four extant Aztec codices which were made before the conquest. Later codices, like Codex Mendoza, were created by Aztec tlacuilos in 1541 under Spanish authorities. The possibility of Spanish influence poses potential problems for these the post-conquest codices.

The accounts of the conquistadores are those of men confronted with a new civilization, which they tried to interpret according their own culture. Cortés was the most educated, and his letters are a valuable first-hand account. Unfortunately, one of his letters is lost and replaced by a posterior text and the others were censored prior their publication.

Bernal Diaz del Castillo is more problematic: he wrote decades after the fact, he never learned the native languages, and he didn't take notes. His account is colorful, but his work is considered erratic and exaggerated. Anthropologist W. Arens reports sections that seem to have been taken from a popular book by Hans Stadden.

The accounts of the first priests and schollars, while tainted by their faith and their culture, are important sources. Father Diego Duran, Motolinia and Mendieta wrote with their own religion in mind, Father Duran wrote trying to prove that the Aztec were one of the lost tribes of Israel. Bartolome de las Casas wrote instead from an apologetic point of view. There also authors that tried to make a synthesis of the pre-Hispanic cultures, like "Oviedo y Herrera", Jose de Acosta, and Pedro Mártir de Angleria.

Perhaps the most important source about the Aztec is the monumental work of Bernardino de Sahagún, who worked with the surviving Aztec wise men. He also taught Aztec tlacuilos to write the original Nahuatl accounts using the Latin alphabet. Because of fear of the Spanish authorities, he maintained the anonymity of his informants, and wrote a heavily censored version in Spanish. Unfortunately the Nahuatl original was not fully translated until the 20th century, thus realising the extent of the censorship of the Spanish version. The original Nahuatl manuscript is known as the Florentine Codex.

Other important sources are the work of Indian and mestizo authors, descendants of the upper classes. These authors include Don Fernando Alvarado Tezozómoc, Chimalpain Cuahutlehuanintzin, Alva Ixtlixochitl, and Juan Bautista de Pomar. There are also some anonymous manuscripts like the Ramirez Codex, probably the work of a Christianized Aztec.

Alva Ixtlixochitl wrote a history of Texcoco, but he was trying to please the Catholic priest, and took the Bible as a model, so his history of Netzahualcoyolt has a strong resemblance to the story of King Solomon. While not actually changing the history, he exaggerates some parts to this effect.

There is also the work of Muñoz Camargo, a Tlaxcalteca mestizo from the 16th century who wrote the "History of Tlaxcala". Some parts of his work are considered to be biased by most historians, but the point of view of the Tlaxcalteca can not be ignored.

Small communities continued to use Aztec codices for legal purposes for almost a century after the conquest, although they clearly were made by untrained hands.


Modern works, available in English

  • Berdan, Frances F. (2005) The Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society. 2nd ed. Thomson-Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.
  • Berdan, Frances F., Richard E. Blanton, Elizabeth H. Boone, Mary G. Hodge, Michael E. Smith and Emily Umberger (1996) Aztec Imperial Strategies. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC.
  • Boone, Elizabeth H. 1989. "Incarnations of the Aztec Supernatural: The Image of Huitzilopochtli in Mexico and Europe." Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Ser., Vol. 79, No. 2., pp. i-iv+1-107.
  • Boone, Elizabeth H. (2000) Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs. University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • Carrasco, Davíd (1999) City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization. Beacon Press, Boston.
  • Carrasco, Pedro (1999) The Tenochca Empire of Ancient Mexico: The Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, and Tlacopan. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • Davies, Nigel (1973) The Aztecs: A History. University of Oklahoma, Norman.
  • Gillespie, Susan D. (1989) The Aztec Kings: The Construction of Rulership in Mexica History'. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
  • Graulich, Michel (1997) Myths of Ancient Mexico. Translated by Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano and Thelma Ortiz de Montellano. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • Guggenheim Museum (editor) (2004) The Aztec Empire (Curated by Felipe Solís). Guggenheim Museum, New York.
  • Hassig, Ross (1988) Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • León-Portilla, Miguel (1962) The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Beacon Press, Boston.
  • León-Portilla, Miguel (1963) Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Náhuatl Mind. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • López Luján, Leonardo (2005) The Offerings of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan. Revised ed. Translated by Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano and Thelma Ortiz de Montellano. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
  • Matos Moctezuma, Eduardo (1988) The Great Temple of the Aztecs. Thames and Hudson, New York.
  • Matos Moctezuma, Eduardo and Felipe R. Solís Olguín (editors) (2002) Aztecs. Royal Academy of Arts, London.
  • Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard R. (1990) Aztec Medicine, Health, and Nutrition. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick.
  • Smith, Michael E. (2003) The Aztecs. 2nd ed. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.
  • Soustelle, J., (1961) The Daily life of the Aztecs, London, WI
  • Townsend, Richard F. (2000) The Aztecs. revised ed. Thames and Hudson, New York.

Primary sources, available in English

  • Berdan, Frances F. and Patricia Reiff Anawalt (1997) The Essential Codex Mendoza. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Cortés, Hernan (2001) Letters from Mexico. Translated by Anthony Pagden. Yale University Press, New Haven.
  • Díaz del Castillo, Bernal (1963) The Conquest of New Spain. Translated by J. M. Cohen. Penguin, New York.
  • Díaz, Gisele and Alan Rogers (1993) The Codex Borgia: A Full-Color Restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript. Dover Publications, New York.
  • Durán, Fray Diego (1971) Book of the Gods and Rites and The Ancient Calendar. Translated by Fernando Horcasitas and Doris Heyden. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • Durán, Fray Diego (1994) The History of the Indies of New Spain. Translated by Doris Heyden. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • Zorita, Alonso de (1963) Life and Labor in Ancient Mexico: The Brief and Summary Relation of the Lords of New Spain. Translated by Benjamin Keen. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick.

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