The Aztec culture is often regarded with confusion, stemming from their religious practices. Although archaeological evidence, such as the temple remains of Mexico City and Calendar Stone, both built without modern tools, indicates a highly skilled people, the Aztecs are often regarded in terms of the sacrificial actions they performed on human beings. This has led to the unfair conclusion that the Aztecs were a blood thirsty people practicing a cruel religion. To clear up the misconception and gain a true understanding of the culture, it is necessary to view the universe and religion as the Aztecs did. The Aztecs believed the cosmos was created by the gods, and was told about in myth. The Aztecs believed the gods underwent sacrificial transformations to create the world and all within it, giving the gifts of life to humanity. The gods were present in every facet of existence which for the Aztecs, meant everything was alive. Sacrifice was understood as the way in which the cosmos was maintained. It nourished and strengthened the gods, allowing their gifts of life to continue. It provided humanity with an opportunity to return similar gifts, to show their appreciation to the gods. Both which allowed for the renewal of the cosmos. As the Aztecs understood the universe and their role within it, it was their responsibility to ensure this continual renewal, and believed their failure would cause the demise of the cosmos and all existence.


Duntley, Madeline


Religious Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 2002 Melissa I. Acosta