General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 21 Sep 2017/10 Eagle
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Our In-House Team

Question for February 2012

Why didn’t Aztec houses have doors? Asked by Friends Junior School. Chosen and answered by Our In-House Team.

Artist’s impression of an Aztec house interior
Artist’s impression of an Aztec house interior (Click on image to enlarge)

The simple answer is: due to the weather! It’s generally a lot friendlier in Mexico than in the UK, with long periods of warm, pleasant temperatures; much of every-day life in Aztec Mexico took place outdoors, even tasks that we do today indoors, such as having a wash, going to the loo, cooking, preparing food, weaving, looking after domestic animals, etc. The home was mainly just for sleeping in, and for protection against storms.

Mexica (Aztec) houses were simple, small and functional, to say the least, often with a single room, without windows. The doorway provided the only source of daylight. At night the doorway would be covered with a long curtain, to which was attached a simple bell, so the family inside would hear straight away if anyone were to enter the house.

A door just wasn’t needed!

Picture courtesy of Felipe Dávalos

Our In-House Team has answered 20 questions altogether:

Did the Aztecs have different types of chewing gum to today’s?

Did the Aztecs have a god of snow?

Which parts of the Day of the Dead festival go back to the Aztecs?

Why did they put holes [gaps] in the [upright huehuetl] drums?

Was Snake Woman an Aztec empress?

How big was the Aztec army?

Did they have First Aid?

Which pet was the Aztecs’ favourite?

Why did they call them ‘chinampas’?

Did the Spanish have an interpreter when they conquered the Aztecs?

Which was the Aztecs’ most fearsome weapon?

Why was the Sun God called Tonatiuh?

Did they send post (mail)?

Did they have the same seasons as we do?

What did they do with the shells of armadillos after eating the meat?

Why didn’t Aztec houses have doors?

Which was the biggest group [job sector] in Aztec society?

Why is it better to support loads on the forehead and not on the shoulders?

When children were punished, how long were they held over smoking chillies for?

What was the Aztecs’ greatest fear?

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Good point! Our understanding is yes, they kept a fire going all night - partly in reverence to the Old Fire God, probably partly too because corn processing requires that the seed be slowly simmered in a pot all night. So, as in Maya territory, Aztec household fires were places of constant warmth - and if they kept mosquitoes away too, it was a bonus!