General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
Text Size:

Search the Site (type in white box):

Ian consults Leonardo Lopez Lujan at the Templo Mayor

Ask the Experts (Aztecs)!

As an educational team visiting up to 150 schools each year, we get asked myriad questions on the Mexica, ranging from the predictable to the amusing to the perceptive and truly thought-provoking.

It’s a pity these can’t be shared with wider audiences, and given more ‘polished’ and considered answers. So we publish here the best together with brief but expert answers. We hope that, as the service develops, you will find this a unique resource - authoritative, balanced, interactive and genuinely accessible.
The questions posed to Mexicolore by middle-school students are wonderful, and often more insightful than those posed by the professionals... (Professor Alan Sandstrom).

Spring 2021: we are privileged to have an expanding team of - now 100! - world-class and distinguished scholars on our Panel. Honorary President Professor Miguel León-Portilla received in 2009 from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) its greatest distinction, the Eagle Warrior Award, a sculpture that represents a Mexica fighter, presented to academics and researchers that have made important contributions to Mexican history. Very sadly, Miguel León-Portilla died on 1st. October 2019.

Above: Mexicolore Director Ian Mursell puts a question on behalf of a school to Dr Leonardo López Luján, Director of the Templo Mayor Project in Mexico City.

Diego Rivera mural of the market of Tlatelolco

‘What first inspired you to study ancient Mexico/Mesoamerica?’ - we survey our Panel of Experts...

A brief appraisal of Miguel León-Portilla’s achievements

2021-04-01How did they carry the heavy stones

to build their temples?

2021-03-01Which was the most common

superstition in Aztec times?

2021-02-01If you were an Aztec under 52,

were you ever allowed chocolate?

2021-01-01Once dead as an Aztec, could you

move between levels or heavens?

2020-12-01If you lived in Aztec times,

what would you change?

2020-11-01What are the two ‘bulbs’ either side

of the god in the centre of the Sunstone?

2020-09-01If you could go back in time,

what one question would you want to ask the Aztecs?

2020-08-01How did the Mexica (Aztecs)

choose their kings and queens?

2020-07-01How many people lived

in an Aztec house (2)?

2020-06-01How many people lived

in an Aztec house (1)?

2020-03-01Would pieces of obsidian

have been worn as jewellery?

2020-01-01What was the WORST job

to have in Aztec times?

2019-12-01Were important Aztec people

carried, or did they walk?

2019-11-01Is there a dragon in the Wind sign

on the Aztec Sunstone?

2019-10-01Were four gods linked to

the four previous worlds?

2019-08-01How were Aztec orphans

looked after and educated?

2019-07-01In Aztec beliefs,

what was bronze?

2019-06-01Why did the Aztecs believe

in so many heavens?

2019-05-01Where did the Aztecs get

the names of their gods from?

2019-04-01Did the Aztecs invent anything

we still use today?

2019-03-01Did the Aztecs celebrate

gods’ birthdays?

2019-02-01Are there likely to be more ancient

books still undiscovered in Mexico?

2019-01-01Did children ever learn to play

the ritual ballgame at school?

2018-12-01Were there any

female rulers?

2018-11-01Why was gold thought to be

the poo of the sun god?

2018-10-01Does the different natural colour of maize

depend on where it’s grown or on the season?

2018-09-01Does each of the 20 day signs

relate to a particular quality?

2018-06-01When the ballgame was played at night,

wouldn’t the burning ball give off gases?

2018-05-01How did the Aztecs view

the act of suicide?

2018-04-01What’s the most interesting fact

you’ve come across about the Aztecs? (4)

2018-03-01Did the Mexica (Aztecs) meet the Spanish

invaders during the day or at night?

2018-02-01When we talk about Aztec ‘slavery’

we’re really talking about their penal system

2018-01-01Is it true the Spanish didn’t like

the taste of chocolate at first?

2017-12-01Where WAS the Sunstone

in Aztec times?

2017-10-01Did the Aztecs ever fight

against the Maya?

2017-08-01What was the Aztecs’

greatest fear?

2017-07-01Did the Aztecs wear masks

to take on extra powers?

2017-05-01How rare was it

to reach the age of 52?

2017-04-01Who chewed gum first, the ancient

Greeks or the ancient Mexicans?

2017-03-01Did the Mexica (Aztecs)

allow divorce?

2017-02-01What did the Spanish do after

the native population collapsed?

2017-01-01Why did the Aztecs dance

when they fought?

2016-12-01Is the chewing gum tree

only found in Mexico?

2016-11-01Who invented the

20-day calendar?

2016-10-01Would they have carried on playing

the ballgame in the pouring rain?

2016-08-01What’s the most interesting fact

you’ve come across about the Aztecs? (3)

2016-07-01Did Aztec gods ever make

a sign or an appearance?

2016-06-01What’s the most interesting fact

you’ve come across about the Aztecs?

2016-04-01How long were children held

over smoking chillies for?

2016-03-01After the ballgame, did they do

human sacrifices straight away?

2016-02-01Why did Aztec houses

have no windows?

2016-01-01What has surprised you most

about the Aztecs?

2015-12-01When women went to the market

did people try to steal their babies?

2015-11-01Could Aztec children

go to the market by themselves?

2015-10-01Which was the most sacred

animal for the Aztecs?

2015-09-01Did the Aztecs

have hospitals?

2015-08-01Which was the Aztecs’

favourite game...?

2015-07-01If an Aztec died of old age

how long could they expect to live?

2015-06-01Did the Maya and Aztecs take feathers for headdresses

from other birds [other than quetzals]?

2015-05-01Which was the greatest

Aztec goddess?

2015-03-01Have any ancient

rubber balls been found?

2015-02-01If you died of hunger or disease,

which underworld would you go to?

2015-01-01When you find something buried in Mexico,

how do you know it’s Aztec...?

2014-12-01Why is it better to carry loads

using the forehead and not shoulders?

2014-10-01How did the Aztecs decide

what to make their musical instruments out of?

2014-09-01Why were men sacrificed

and not women?

2014-08-01Did the Aztecs bury things

for future generations like us to find?

2014-07-01Why did the gods destroy worlds

they themselves had created?

2014-06-01What was the highest position

an Aztec woman could reach?

2014-05-01Did the Aztecs begin

as a peaceful tribe?

2014-04-01Does anybody know the names

of all the Aztec gods?

2014-03-01Why is the original [Mixtec] gold pendant

in England? Is it pirate gold?

2014-02-01Did the Aztecs

ever meet the Incas?

2014-01-01When did people stop using

cacao beans for money?

2013-12-01Why always THREE

hearth stones?

2013-11-01How did the Aztecs know that this fifth world

would be destroyed in an earthquake?

2013-07-01Which was the second biggest town

or city in Aztec times?

2013-06-01Did the Aztecs have

a particularly BAD ruler?

2013-05-01If warriors turned into butterflies in the afterlife,

what did ordinary Aztec people turn into?

2013-04-01Would an Aztec son always

inherit the family house?

2013-03-01Did the Aztecs breed exotic birds

like the quetzal for their feathers?

2013-02-01How did Aztec scribes

correct their mistakes?

2013-01-01According to ancient myths

how were the stars created?

2012-12-01Which museum has

the most Aztec objects in it?

2012-11-01Did the Aztecs

work at night?

2012-10-01Did Mexica boys and girls receive

the same ‘burning chillies’ punishment?

2012-09-01Why did Aztec shields

have patterns on them?

2012-08-01‘The Aztecs’ most prized possession’

late entry - richly decorated clothing

2012-07-01Did the Mexica have ‘cenotes’

- sacred wells or sinkholes?

2012-05-01Did the Aztecs force you

to be who you were?

2012-04-01How many spectators were there

for the ritual ballgame?

2012-03-01Were medical teams on hand

in case of injuries in the ballgame?

2012-02-01Why did Aztec houses

not have doors?

2012-01-01Was the pottery wheel used

by the Aztecs to make pottery?

2011-12-01What did the Aztecs prize

above all else...?

2011-11-01Why did the Spanish re-bury the statue

of the earth goddess Coatlicue?

2011-10-01What can you do

with an armadillo shell?

2011-09-01The Aztecs said daily prayers

for many, many things...

2011-08-01Where did the intrusive ‘n’

in Montezuma come from?

2011-07-01Were the Aztecs paid to keep

their city of Tenochtitlan clean?

2011-06-01Were eagles and jaguars messengers

when carved on Aztec/Mexica drums?

2011-05-01Were there rich and poor

in Aztec times?

2011-04-01Which animals did the Aztecs sacrifice,

and do people still do this today?

2011-03-01What opportunities were there

to change social class?

2011-02-01How did the Spanish translate Aztec writings?

‘Always easily, but perhaps never perfectly...’

2011-01-01What kinds of gadgets

did the Aztecs use?

2010-12-01Did they have the same

seasons as we do?

2010-11-01Who was healthier in the Late Middle Ages

- the English or the Aztecs?

2010-10-01Did the Aztecs

send mail (post)?

2010-09-01Were there laws governing

when Aztecs could marry?

2010-08-01Archaeological discoveries:

demonized and reburied!

2010-07-01Were the Aztecs warriors

‘from the word go’?

2010-06-01The 20 daysigns on the Sunstone run anti-clockwise

following the direction of ancient sacred circuits

2010-03-01What happened to Aztec/Mexica gods

after the Spanish Conquest? (1)

2010-01-01Is the language of the Aztecs/Mexica

still taught today in Mexican schools?

2009-12-01The Aztecs communicated with their gods through music

and the sound of animals helped in establishing contact

2009-11-01The Aztec/Mexica broadsword

was a veritable ‘shock weapon’

2009-10-01Just how old

are the codices?

2009-09-01How did the Spanish and the Aztecs

understand each other?

2009-08-01Have traces of real blood been found

on the sacrifice knife blades?

2009-07-01What constellations

did the Aztecs recognise?

2009-06-01It’s the MALE quetzal bird

that has the longest feathers...

2009-05-01Just why did the Aztecs do

‘human sacrifices’?

2009-04-01What tactics did the Aztecs use

when they went to war?

2009-03-01What’s the meaning of the ‘double-5’

domino sign in the Sunstone?

2009-02-01Were the Aztecs

keen on symmetry?

2009-01-01Why were they called


2008-12-01Just in the niche of time

- always up at the ‘crack’ of dawn...

2008-11-01Did Cortés really look

like Quetzalcóatl?

2008-10-01Aqueducts and causeways -

the Aztec solution

2008-08-01How many planets

were the Aztecs aware of?

2008-07-01‘Snake Woman’ - Aztec Superhero?

No. HE was Prime Minister!

2008-06-01The Aztecs saw the earth

as one of 3 vertical levels

2008-03-01Head wounded in battle? Quick! Pee on the wound

then dress it with warm cactus sap...

2008-02-01Just how big

was the Aztec army?

2008-01-01Could(n’t) the Aztec gods

have saved them from the Spanish?

2007-12-01How many words were/are there

in Náhuatl, the Aztec language?

2007-11-01We don’t just get English food words

from the Aztec language...

2007-09-01Many ancient Mexican customs and beliefs

are still visible today in Mexico

2007-08-01Could the Aztecs really have made

a human sacrifice every 10 minutes?

2007-06-01The Conquistadores - in Spain they’re...

...’Heroes with a capital "H"’

2007-05-01Great Snakes!

What do the 2 on the Sunstone mean?

2007-04-01Just how Aztec

is the ‘Day of the Dead’?

2007-02-01Moctezuma’s palace was

truly ‘fit for an emperor’

2007-01-01If you can say the word ‘atlas’ without the ‘as’...

... you can pronounce many Aztec words

2006-12-01The Aztecs and ancient Egypt

were worlds apart in time and space

2006-11-01Would a cocoa bean a day

have kept the doctor away?

2006-10-01‘The strangest discovery I ever made about the Aztecs

is that they wrote beautiful poetry about the shortness of life and what would happen after death’

2006-08-01Snow: brrrrrr...

... sign of a good harvest, or a punishment?

2006-07-01Well and truly stuck -

- up a gum tree...

2006-06-01Aztec jewellery was simply beautiful -

- made with beautifully simple techniques

2006-05-01Aztec skull racks

who were they trying to impress?

2006-04-01Was Huitzilopochtli

the most powerful Aztec god of them all?

2006-02-01Roll your own...

... which came first - to eat or to smoke?

2006-01-01The Aztecs dressed...

... to impress!


... seriously bad news!

2005-11-01Face painting...

... was a serious art

2005-10-01In Aztec times...

... ‘money’ truly grew on trees!

2005-09-01More precious than gold...

...’turquoise’ meant much more than just a precious stone

2005-08-01The heart of the matter...

... lay in offerings to the Sun god

2005-06-01Schooling under the Aztecs...

... was pretty much universal

2005-04-01The Aztecs were quick to realise...

... Cortés had nothing in common with a god!

2005-01-01Crime and punishment

under the Aztecs

2004-12-01Aztec women were considered to be warriors..

.... when going through childbirth

2004-11-01We’ve all heard of Moctezuma

- can you name the other Aztec rulers?