Aztec Science and Technology

aztec science and technology
Photography Max Letek

Notes taken from the essay James Poskett's Horizons where it is shown that despite what we believe in Europe, the Aztecs were a cultured and developed people, not savages without knowledge. This creates an interest in continuing to investigate this culture.

They had aviaries and vivariums and in 1467 they built a botanical garden 100 years earlier than in Europe. They cataloged plants according to their structure and use (decorative, medicinal, etc.). In 1595 the University of Padua created the first botanical garden in Europe.

They made studies and collections of Natural History.

Tenochtitlan was an engineering marvel. It was built in the center of an island in 1325 in the center of Lake Texcoco. It had 3 access roads several km above the water. And the city was like a Venice, navigable. In the center was the Great Temple, a 70m pyramid.

Here an illustration of Lake Texcoco at the arrival of the Spanish.

ancient map of lake texcoco
Image Wikimedia

In the middle of the 200th century, the city had 2 people and the Aztec empire had more than XNUMX million people.

They were good at astronomy and knowledge of the natural world. There was a large proportion of boys and girls receiving some formal education. The priests knew astronomy and mathematics. There was a type of people they called "those who know things." They built huge libraries. Doctors of many kinds could be consulted (surgeons, midwives, apothecaries)

Sun stone, Aztec calendar, Mexica calendar
Photo at the National Museum of Anthropology

The discovery of America prompted a change in the way of studying and solving problems. Until then, the students followed a scholastic tradition that was based on reading, studying and discussing the Greek and Roman classics.

But no classic had described what they found in the new world. Plants, radically different animals and even people. jose de acosta

Interesting data

Moctezuma II (1502 – 1520) in Tenochtitlan, Aztecs.

The Aztec language is Nahuatl, it was a pictorial language.

Huitzilopochtli or the Hummingbird god was the protector god of Tenochtitlan. The great temple is dedicated to that god.

Huitzilopochtli or Hummingbird god
It belongs to the Telleriano codex

You can consult the Telleriano codex online and many others from this website

Resources to go deeper into this topic

  • The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Mesoamerican CulturesDavid Carrasco
  • Day life of the Aztecs. David Carrasco and Scott Sessions
  • Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction by johns hopinks
  • Encycopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures by Helain Selin
  • Aztec Science and Technology by Francisco Guerra

See also

  • Codex Florentino Bernardino de Sahagún
  • See natural and moral history of the Indies


  • Horizons by James Poskett

If you are a restless person like us and want to collaborate in the maintenance and improvement of the project, you can make a donation. All the money will go to buy books and materials to experiment and do tutorials

Leave a comment