Achievements of the Pre-Columbian Aztec Empire
Many people probably picture in their minds Columbus arriving to a sparsely populated wilderness, when in actuality, what he “discovered” was a prosperous land with established native cultures and complex social systems. According to the majority of historians and archaeologists, there were as many as 100 million people living in America when Columbus arrived in 1492. The Aztec Empire was one of the largest empires, with a population of around 5-10 million. The Aztec Empire is considered one of the “great civilizations” because of its complexity and achievements. Prior to the arrival and influence of the Europeans, the Aztecs had established a remarkable and advanced way of life in comparison with other native tribes and nomads. The Aztecs had many important pre-Columbian accomplishments and achievements in areas, such as math, science, language, architecture, and agricultural engineering.
The Aztecs were especially advanced when it came to math and the scientific thought process. Their number system was far ahead of other co-existing cultures. They had a base 20 number system which used dot and bar notation. Pictorial glyphs were used to represent fractional distances to calculate land perimeter and areas, which was necessary to determine taxes. They developed their own type of counting device called an abacus. The Priests studied the movements of the sun and planets and relied on their knowledge of math to calculate and create a remarkably accurate calendar. In fact, the Aztec calendar was more accurate than the European calendar!
The Aztec people developed their own written language, called Nahuatl, which is still spoken today by approximately one million people. The...
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Even though there have been many misconceptions, the truth is that the Aztec people were advanced. The Aztec society flourished as they built a prosperous empire. At the same time the people of London were drinking polluted water from River Thames (until 1854), Tenochtitlan had a supply of fresh clean water for its residents. While chamber pots were emptied in the streets of Europe, public bathrooms were built in every neighborhood and 1,000 cleaners were employed to clean their streets. Even though many books may refer to these Native Americans as primitive or barbaric savages, we can see that even though their way of life may have been different, it was fascinating and sophisticated with much to teach us then- and now. The contributions and achievements of the Aztec people were significant in many areas and have had a great influence on American life today.
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