Aztec Civilization


Class structure

The highest class were the pilli or nobility. Originally this was not hereditary, although the sons of pillis had access to better resources and education, so it was easier for them to become pillis. Later the class system took on hereditary aspects.

The second classes were the mepoplei, originally peasants. Eduardo Noguera[9] estimates that in later stages only 20% of the population was dedicated to agriculture and food production. The other 80% of society were warriors, artisans and traders. Eventually, most of the mācehuallis were dedicated to arts and crafts. Their works were an important source of income for the city.[10]

Slaves or tlacotin also constituted an important class. Aztecs could become slaves because of debts, as a criminal punishment or as war captives. A slave could have possessions and even own other slaves. Slaves could buy their liberty, and slaves could be set free if they had children with or were married to their masters. Typically, upon the death of the master, slaves who had performed outstanding services were freed. The rest of the slaves were passed on as part of an inheritance.

A painting from Codex Mendoza showing elder Aztecs being given intoxicants.Traveling merchants called pochteca were a small, but important class as they not only facilitated commerce, but also communicated vital information across the empire and beyond its borders. They were often employed as spies.


Main article: Aztec cuisine
The Aztec staple foods included maize, beans and squash to which were often added chillies and tomatoes, all prominent parts of the Mexican diet to this day. They harvested acocils, a small and abundant shrimp of Lake Texcoco, as well as Spirulina algae, which was made into a sort of cake rich in flavonoids. Although the Aztec's diet was mostly vegetarian, ".[citation needed] the Aztecs consumed insects such as crickets (chapulines), maguey worm, ants, larvae, etc. Insects have...