TECH & SCIENCE
THE Aztecs were a mighty civilization that flourished in Central America between 1325 and 1521, when they were forced to surrender to an invading Spanish army. From their magnificent capital, Tenochtitlan, they governed a vast empire that stretched from present-day Mexico to Guatemala, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. They are often thought of as a fierce people, aggressive in battle and engaging in human sacrifice to appease their various gods. However, the Aztecs were also extremely civilised and sophisticated, developing advanced technologies for their time, independent of outside influence. Some of the important accomplishments of Aztec technology include independent development of mathematics, development of a specialised calendar, invention of the canoe, and various helpful forms of medicine.
Aztec technology used for making weapons mainly relied on the use of stone and copper due to the fact that they did not have access to iron and bronze. Before the use of copper for making weapons, they mainly relied on obsidian and chert. In certain other areas, Aztec technology for tools was quite sophisticated - for instance, they made drills which were made of reed or bone. One of the innovative weapons used by the Aztecs was called macuahuitl which was a wooden club having sharp pieces of volcanic glass. It was used to disable an enemy soldier without killing him.
Aztecs faced two crucial disadvantages in terms of technology for transportation: the absence of wheels and horses. On the land, travelling by foot was the most common way of transportation which naturally was very slow. Due to this reason, the Aztecs did not construct any roads. However, Aztecs did develop canoes which made transportation through streams and rivers easier. This mode of transportation was thus extensively used throughout the Aztec Empire. They dug many small canals for the transportation of canoes. This focus on aquatic transport over land-based transport is largely attributed to the environment surrounding the Aztec Empire, which contained many swamps and tributaries.
Science and education
Aztecs made several important advancements in the domains of education and science. They were among the first societies in the world to make education compulsory for all children. This education also included basic military training for all male students. In the field of science, they made advancements in mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. Steam baths and a variety of herbs were used as medicine. In mathematics, they had their own number system which used 20 as its base. Among various other purposes, this numbering system was used for calculating taxes.
Buildings and structures
One of the most remarkable and well-known achievements of Aztec technology was in the domain of architecture and building of various structures. Some of their enduring feats include the chinampa system of farming (man-made islands on which crops were planted - around which water flowed, irrigating the soil), stone carving, and the remarkable step pyramids. Proper care was taken about proportions and structure of these pyramids which served as the temples. Another example of Aztec technology in the domain of architecture was the city of Tenochtitlan which was divided into four parts, each having its own architectural value. The Aztecs also built two large aqueducts which fulfilled the need of fresh water for bathing in the city of Tenochtitlan.
◆ MOUTHFUL: The Aztec Sun Stone, called Teoilhuicatlapaluaztli-Ollin Tonalmachiotl, was one of a variety of calendars the Aztecs used to measure the course of the year for various purposes - chiefly, religious ceremonies and agricultural dates.