Difference between Mayans and Aztecs

The Aztecs and the Mayans are two of the largest pre-Columbian cultures in Mesoamerica. Although both took place in Mexico, the Mayans even reached some Central American countries, Mayans and Aztecs developed at different times. However, during the time they met they had a distant but friendly relationship.

Comparison table

Other names Aztec Empire, Mexicas, Mexica Empire and Nahuas. It is worth mentioning that although they are similar, Aztec, Mexica and Nahua are not the same, although for practical purposes they are often used as synonyms. Mayan culture, Mayan civilization.
Geographic location Central Mexico, what is now the State of Mexico, Puebla, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, and even a small part of Guatemala. The Mayan culture, on the other hand, developed in the Mexican southeast, in Campeche, Yucatán, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and part of Chiapas. In addition, they covered countries such as Belize, Guatemala, part of Honduras and El Salvador.
Period (years) Late Postclassic, before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. Tenochtitlán was founded in the year 1325 AD and it is considered that the Aztec empire saw its end in 1521 AD, when the Spanish defeated them. Their history is much longer than that of the Mexica. The history of the Mayan culture began in the Preclassic period and extended until the conquest of the Spanish. This covers an approximate 2600 years of history. It is believed that the first Mayan settlements took place around 750 BC.
brief introduction The Aztec empire was a town or territorial and political-economic entity. This was made up of the triple alliance; Texcoco, Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan. They were considered the most powerful and influential people of that time. 

His empire stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. He was a people of great economic wealth, which he acquired thanks to his strict tribute system. Its capital, Tenochtitlán, was considered the most important and magnificent metropolis of the time. Although the Aztecs were great conquerors and important alliance builders, there were states that were able to repel their attempts to subjugate them. Such is the case of the Mixtecs, the Tarascan state of Michoacán (who prevented expansion to the west), the lordship of Metztitlán and the eternal enemies of the Mexicas, the Tlaxcaltecas. The latter played a very important role in the end of the Aztec empire, when the Tlaxcalans and Totonacs allied with the Spanish and brought down the Mexica resistance in Tenochtitlán.

This civilization flourished in the tropical forests of Mesoamerica. The Mayans were, without a doubt, one of the most amazing civilizations the world has ever seen. One of his great achievements was writing. The Mayans developed a type of hieroglyphic writing, which had no precedent in pre-Columbian America. In addition, they were notable men of art, great builders and jewelers. They worked with materials such as jade, obsidian, ceramics and carved stone. The Mayans had contact with the ancestors of the Mexicas, the Teotihuacans, so it is possible to see a bit of their influence in constructions in central Mexico. For example, in Cacaxtla, Tlaxcala there are ruins with murals painted in the Mayan style. It is believed that there were no conquest attempts,
The Mayan culture saw its decline in the fourth century, when after the collapse of its political and economic system, its inhabitants abandoned the cities and moved north (to Chichen Itza and Uxmal). There is still no explanation for this event, but several theories say that overpopulation, drought and internal wars were the main causes. Many cities continued to be inhabited but monuments and buildings were no longer built.
Language Nahuatl The Mayans did not use one language exclusively. They used a group of 30 languages ​​derived from a single language called Proto-Mayan. These languages ​​can still be heard today.
Religion The Aztecs practiced polytheism. This means that they worshiped various gods. Some of the most outstanding are Huitzilopochtli, Coatlicue, Tláloc, Quetzalcóatl, Tezcatlipoca , among many others. The Mexicas practiced human sacrifice to ensure the renewal and continuity of the bonanza. In the same way, the political, religious and military elite practiced ritual anthropophagy (cannibalism). In the same way, the Mayans were polytheists. The priests, who served as the first bridge between this world and the supernatural world, were called shamans. Politics and religion were intimately linked. On the other hand, the Mayans also practiced ritual human sacrifice as an offering to the gods of the underworld. This was the maximum offering, so it was only reserved for special occasions. Some of the most important deities are Itzamna, K’inich Ahau , the Pawatun , the Bacab , among others.
Type of government Theocracy. hereditary monarchy. At the head was the huey-tlatoani , who was elected by the representatives of each of the 20 clans into which the empire was divided. The Maya did not centralize their power. On the contrary, they had a series of practices similar to chiefdoms and states that allowed them to maintain a kind of order. However, they did have a king, who possessed a quasi-deity status.
military look The Aztecs were great warriors. They achieved great conquests thanks to their military power, subdued several states and with many others formed important marriage alliances. It is worth mentioning that the Aztecs used to take prisoners of war, who were considered slaves. The Mayans were also great warriors. However, little is known about their battles, organization and military training. Among the little that is known, the Mayans fought for the control of trade routes and the payment of tributes. Many times they took prisoners of war, who were captured, tortured and sacrificed.
Science Education was very important. It was compulsory to be educated until the age of 14 by the parents. Later, there were two types of schools, the telpochcalli , in which everything related to the military was learned, and the calmécac , in which writing, science, theology and leadership were learned. The Mexica astronomers were remarkable. The Aztecs were great observers of the sky, they were able to record and anticipate events such as eclipses and lunar phases. Many of their activities and traditions depended on the behavior of the stars. They created two calendars, a ritual one of 260 days and a civil one of 365 days. Astronomy was a science that was directly related to religion.
They also had their own metric system, which even today is comparable to modern measurement systems.
They were outstanding in areas such as mathematics. The Mayans used the vigesimal system as a base. In addition, they had a system of lines and points through which they represented the written numbering. An outstanding fact is that they were one of the first civilizations to represent zero, a concept that was ignored by many civilizations. In astronomy, his calculations were much more precise than those of the Mexica and even more than those of any Old World astronomer. The Mayans were even able to calculate movements of celestial bodies from modern times. However, astronomy served astrological rather than scientific purposes. His calendar was much more accurate than the Julian calendar of those times.
Daily life On the other hand, the Mexicas were great farmers. They developed cultivation techniques (chinampas) that allowed them to harvest several times in a single year. Their most important crops were squash, corn, chili, beans, etc. The Aztecs practiced barter, or the exchange of goods. It is believed that in its prime, Tenochtitlán was the largest market in the world. They traded cocoa, exotic fruits, fish, precious metals, gemstones (obsidian was very important to them), cloth, feathers, fur, slaves, and others. As for the Mayans, they had quite sophisticated methods to produce food. For agriculture, they used methods such as raised fields, terraces and fallow land. Through these and other techniques, they cultivated foods such as corn, cassava, cotton, sunflowers, beans, pumpkins, cocoa, vanilla, chili, tomatoes, etc. The Mayans had a small variety of domestic animals, such as the dog, which was domesticated in 3000 BC, and the duck. They did not have pack animals, therefore, everything that was necessary to transport, they did it on their backs.
Architecture One of the great architectural achievements of the Mexicas was their settlement in an area of ​​islets within a lake. Tenochtitlan was carefully designed and built. It was divided into symmetrical parts that communicated through channels. This empire built pyramids, temples and palaces. Some examples of Mexica architecture are the main temple and the city of Tenochtitlán, among many others. It is worth mentioning that Teotihuacán was not built by the Mexicas, but they did occupy it after having found it abandoned. The Mayans left behind a vast and rich architectural legacy. Due to the complexity of their constructions, the Mayans are considered an extremely advanced civilization for their time. They built enclosures, temples, fields destined exclusively for the ball game, pyramids, observatories. Today it is possible to visit many Mayan ruins that have been preserved over time. Some of the most popular are Tikal, Chichen Itzá, Uxmal, Ek Balam , among many others.

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