25 Unbelievable Facts About The Aztecs That Might Surprise You

Posted by , Updated on April 3, 2015

Although they never made use of things like the wheel, iron, or cavalry, the Aztecs are actually responsible for giving the world chocolate! Ok, they did a whole bunch of other things too. As the last great native American civilization these are 25 unbelievable facts about the Aztecs That Might Surprise You.

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25

The name Aztec was actually made up by Europeans, they used to call themselves the Mexica.

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24

Their deceased were usually buried right under their house

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23

Sometimes they killed a dog along with the deceased so that the dog could guide them to the after-life.

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22

They would often sell themselves or their children into slavery to pay off their debts

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21

Their system of slavery was more like indentured servitude though, as slaves could buy their freedom

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20

The Aztec capital was called Tenochtitlan and it was in the middle of a lake. Today it's known as Mexico City and the lake is mostly drained

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19

Tenochtitlan had garbage men and was allegedly very clean

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18

At the time of its discovery by Europeans, Tenochtitlan was bigger than most European cities

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17

The Aztecs had never discovered the wheel

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16

They also had no iron or steel

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15

They were one of the first societies to mandate education for kids

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14

It was European disease that eventually defeated the Aztecs

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13

Their language N’ahuatl had a picture-like, hieroglyphic alphabet

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12

They used this language to maintain an extremely advanced and detailed record keeping system with regards to everything from sacrifices to taxes

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11

Legend has it that the Aztecs arranged battles with their enemies in order for each side to acquire prisoners/human sacrifices

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10

They often played a ball game called Ullamaliztli which consisted of trying to get a rubber ball through impossibly small hoops without it touching the ground. You could only use your knees, elbows, head, and hips

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9

Quite often human sacrifice would be connected to the ball game. Many of the courts would even have the skulls of former players surrounding them.

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8

Since it was actually considered an honor to be sacrificed, historians are not clear on whether it was the losers or the winners that were killed after the match

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7

Aztecs, along with other Central American civilizations, were the first to introduce chocolate to the Europeans

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6

In fact, the word chocolate comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word "chocolātl" and was then adopted into English by way of Spanish

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5

Cacao seeds were seen as a gift from the gods and were even used as currency

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4

Their chocolate was a lot different than it is today though. They prepared it as a bitter drink mixed with spices.

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3

They were overthrown by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes along with several neighboring tribes that they were at odds with

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2

Their fall marked the end of the last great Native American civilization

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1

During the final battle for Tenochtitlan, it is believed that nearly a quarter million people died. Cortes then proceeded to found Mexico City in the ruins.

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