Aztec civilization architecture
Aztec architecture was simple and elegant, bold and powerful, and it mixed colours and symbols that helped created a unique style. The powerful and dominant temples were of course the masterpieces of the Aztec empire but there is much more to Aztec architecture than just these mighty temples.
There were three groups of Aztec’s were the Mexica, Acolhua, and Tepanecs that together formed the triple alliance of the Aztec empire. The two capitals Tenochtitlan (Mexica) and Texcoco (Acolhua) formed the Valley of Mexico.
Tenochtitlan was the main Aztec city, which was actually built on top of another city Teotihuacan. Tenochtitlan which roughly means ‘place of those who have the road of the gods’ was built around the 14th up to the 16th Century. At that time, it was the third largest city in the world with a population that grew to around 200, 000 people. This was the Aztec’s capital city which was built around the hustle and bustle of the centre, their public plaza. The plaza was then surrounded by temples, shrines and pyramids as you move out from the centre, and then further out scattered in the outskirts were the Aztec homes, their ball courts, and their garden and farming land.
Aztec architecture relied heavily on cosmology, astronomy and religion, their massive cities reflected their beliefs and it’s an important key in understanding their history and culture, and how this affect their buildings and constructions. Of course, as we mentioned earlier the most dominant pieces of architecture are the temples of the Aztecs. These temples perfectly represent how the Aztecs architecture is powered by their desire to sacrifice to their gods and their religion and beliefs.
Building materials used by the ancient Aztecs
The Aztecs used primitive tools like stones, chisels and blades for their construction, rudimentary tools by modern standards, but it didn’t hold the Aztecs back. They focused on building strong foundations since the soil on their ground was susceptible to sinking due to the warm and often damp climate. The Aztecs used a colorful and easy to cut volcanic stone called tezontle to form the base of their constructions. The Aztecs additionally used local stone materials like rubble and limestone that were found in the area, and these were often traded as well.
Aztecs mostly carved their stones for decorations, giving their buildings and materials a unique look that added texture and visual punch to their buildings. The carvings were naive for the most part with a very two dimensional quality They also were also keen on local wood materials and used pine and oak wood from the forests for their beams and doors.
Symbols incorporated into Aztec architecture
Aztec architecture was full of symbols as we mentioned earlier, the Aztecs used symbols to add decoration, style and incorporate their beliefs into their architecture. Here are some of the figures that were commonly used in Aztec buildings and architecture and what they represent.
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