The Templo Mayor: An Unknown American Wonder
The Templo Mayor (Spanish for “Main Temple”) itself is an impressive feat of engineering. It was the supposed site where the god Huitzilopochtli was born and fought his sister to the death before throwing her body down the hill. The sacrifices are symbols for this as is the temple. The temple itself was enlarged/remodeled several times before the Spanish arrived, making for a truly imposing building the likes of which the Spanish couldn’t even comprehend.
A wall of skulls lines the base of the temple, some 60,000 skulls filling it out. About five other skull racks are scattered about the city showing both the dedication to the gods and the might of the Aztecs to be able to capture so many victims.
Still, in the temple complex, we might catch some of the sports action on the ball court, now known as Ulama, right next to the great temple. Much is still unknown about this sport, but we know it was violent. A heavy ball was supposed to be put through a hoop on a slanted wall using mainly the hips. Scoring was incredibly difficult and required the most athletic class of men in the city.
It has been suggested that the game may have served as a sort of proxy war as two feuding groups battled it out on the court instead of the battlefield. This accounts for the jarring instances of human sacrifices performed on the losers of some games. Very recently, archeologists uncovered a collection of more than 30 male neck bones in Mexico City, confirming that the Aztecs did indeed partake in the game and its sacrificial aspect on occasion.
Aztec Markets: The Absolute Best of What the Americas Had to Offer
Next, you might decide on visiting a cheerier section of the city, the markets. On their own, these markets would have been bigger than most cities in Europe, and when they were at the heart of the Aztec Empire, they were flooded with people, as many as 60,000 would trade at the main market every day.
Heading to the main market means heading to a whole other city, Tlatelolco. Though this wasn’t seen as a big deal as the two great cities butted up against each other on the shared island. The market was exceptionally well-organized with many distinct squares and streets that were assigned different specialties.
Head down the street of herbs where you could get any herbal remedy or spice you could imagine, or go to the barber for a shave and a haircut, obsidian blades made for an extremely close shave. Go down the game street for all your wild foods, from rabbit and deer to eagles and dogs. Move to the next street and grab some cloth or a complete outfit. Choose any color you’d like, they have a whole section dedicated to dyes.
Perhaps you find a stall that serves the Aztec chocolate drink Xocolatl, a cool and unknown treat in the new world. A sip and you’re hooked, but how do you get more, the Aztecs won’t take your money. A small sewing kit will do, the steel needle is an absolute wonder to the trading Aztec, he can use it for an excellent trade with the textile workers. Whatever you do, don’t try to cheat your way to an unfair deal; guards stand watch in the markets and spend their day bringing feuding parties to special judges who resolved marketplace conflict. After a long day exploring the unique goods of the New World maybe you’ll want to stop at one of the many restaurants and grab a full-service meal, a great way to get your first ever taste of turkey.
Whatever you do, don’t try to cheat your way to an unfair deal; guards stand watch in the markets and spend their day bringing feuding parties to special judges who resolved marketplace conflict. After a long day exploring the unique goods of the New World maybe you’ll want to stop at one of the many restaurants and grab a full-service meal, a great way to get your first ever taste of turkey.
On your way back to your temporary palace room you might walk past a wedding ceremony. The Aztecs had elaborate ceremonies similar to Europeans, with a courtship that involved a dowry as well. Though the Aztec men could have multiple wives, it was only their first wife who held the higher status and she could get a divorce at any time.