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Cultures > Aztec

:: 1100 AD - 1521 AD

Cultural Background | Surviving | Living in Community | Finding Meaning in the Cosmos

Living in Community

Urban Organization
The Aztecs believed that the world was a flat surface divided into five directions: north, south, east, west and the center. Their capital, Tenochtitlan, was in the center. They believed that there were 13 layers, or heavens, above their capital and nine layers of the underworld below the capital. All of these layers were occupied by different gods and goddesses. The gods were related to the creation of the cosmos, the sun and other things.

The Aztecs believed that their city united all of these levels and was the sacred center of cosmological space and the foundation of heaven.

They used horizontal-line astronomy when building the city in order to match their buildings on earth with the stars in the sky. Horizontal-line astronomy uses the horizon as a line or graph along which the motions of the heavens can be marked and mapped.

The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon were aligned to the sun and Earth, and the other pyramids were built in exact proportion to other planets in our solar system. The Aztecs even built pyramids in relation Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. These are planets only recently discovered by man and cannot be seen by the naked eye.

This method of urban organization also provided a way to simultaneously calculate time and create spatial boundaries by directly linking the buildings on Earth with celestial bodies in the sky.

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Learn more about how cultures looked to the skies to organize their cities.


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