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Ancient Aztec Astronomy in Plain English!

Ancient Aztec Astronomy has always been a part of Aztec culture. The stars, the planets, and the movements of heavenly bodies in the universe was a great part of the traditions of the Aztec people and it had a lot to do with their everyday movements and the decisions that they made on a daily basis. Now, keep in mind they didn't have the ability to journey into space as we do today. Yet, they had very precise knowledge of astronomy.

Ancient Aztec Astronomy and Architecture

Many people think that the Egyptians were the only ancient group of people that made buildings and pyramids worthy of attention in history classes, but the Aztecs did as well. They designed whole structures around the sun, moon, and the stars and paid special tribute to them with their buildings. It's clear that geometric shapes were important in ancient Aztec astronomy.

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Astronomy and the Aztec Sun Calendar

If there was ever any doubt that the Aztecs had a deep knowledge of astronomy, the Aztec Sun Calendar (also known as the Aztec Stone Calendar) defeats that doubt. The Aztec Sun Calendar is a large round stone, 12 feet across weighing in at 24 tons. The calendar was three fit thick as well, so it was not small by any means. The Sun Calendar took more than 50 years to make, which is quite impressive considering the fact that the Aztecs did not have a hammer and a drill to use.

Originally, the Sun Calendar was placed on top of the temple in Tenochtitlan. It had the face of Tonatiuh in the middle and four squares representing the four ways that the original four sons had come to an end. The four ways are by animals, wind, fire, and flood. According to the calendar, the Aztecs were living in the fifth world, and the fifth world was the last and final world to be had. It's a good thing for you the world doesn't have to end for you to take a hi definition journey into space.

Outside of the fours squares there were twenty smaller squares, representing and naming twenty days on the Aztec calendar month. The twenty calendar days on the calendar are represented by twenty things in nature and in everyday life that the Aztec people were familiar with.

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Twenty Days of the Aztec Month

  • Snake
  • Lizard
  • House
  • Wind
  • Crocodile
  • Flower
  • Rain
  • Flint
  • Movement
  • Vulture
  • Eagle
  • Jaguar
  • Cane
  • Herb
  • Monkey
  • Dog (Hairless)
  • Water
  • Rabbit
  • Deer
  • Skull

The search for knowledge continues

One of the interesting things about the Aztec Sun Calendar is that it was lost for a long time; 250 years to be exact. In 1790, the calendar was found by workers who were making repairs to the Cathedral in Mexico city and it is believed that it was lost in the conquest of Tenochtitlan by the Spaniards. Our search for knowledge of the universe continues to this very day. Imagine having the knowledge of NASA's database right at your fingertips.

Ancient Aztec Astronomy Today

Today, ancient Aztec astronomy is one of those things that are studied in everyday life by school children and college students all around the world. Although the ancient Aztec astronomy looked at things a bit differently than astronomers do today, but the things that they understood and the things that they discovered have a lot to do with our calendar today. According to ancient Aztec astronomy, there were 365 days of the year but only 360 were accounted for as five of them were days for sacrifice. Fortunately, you don't have to sacrifice anything to take a virtual journey into space.

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