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Guide to make Aztecs ( Mesoamerican mod)


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The warfare

The Aztec armies had a high level of organization and ordering for combat. The men were divided into squadrons of 200 to 400 warriors commanded by a captain, who wore a large flag on his back to be able to distinguish himself on the battlefield.
The chief of the state was the tlatoani, and almost at his level was the cihuacoatl who shared with him the tasks of government. The tlacochcálcatl and the tlacatéccatl were great generals, whose functions included advising the tlatoani on matters of government and declarations of war, presiding over military tribunals, governing the garrisons that the empire established in border areas, and, of course, leading and directing Military campaigns There is much difficulty in clearly discerning the chain of command in the Aztec army. Good (2009a) considers that:

The Tlacochcálcatl had greater responsibility, since he guarded the armory and, furthermore, after the victory against the Tepanecas, when the Aztecs distributed dignities and rewards, Tlacaelel was granted this appointment and Moctezuma Ilhuicamina the one of tlacatéccatl, and it is known that at that time Tlacaelel had more political weight than Moctezuma I in the government of Itzcoatl. It is even possible that just as in the government the tlatoani and the cihuacoatl were almost equal, there are those who speak of even government, perhaps that dual reflex was also repeated in the military sphere, with the charges of tlacochcálcatl and tlacatéccatl. (P.14)
The declaration of war corresponded to the ruler or tlatoani, who, having met with his Council, sent messengers to the target province to warn of their hostile intentions. This one had two options: to remain under the Mexica orbit without fighting and accepting, through the diplomatic channel, the imposition of the tribute or to collect the glove and to fight. In this case the tlatoani made a public appeal to the neighborhoods or calpulli that had their squadrons ready for battle (Bueno, 2009b, 186).
Uniforms and Orders

The generic name for the costume they wore in battle was tlahuiztli. When ascending on merit, they were allowed to use in the battle a ichcahuipilli or cotton armor and a ponytail with a tuft collected on the crown. This protective garment had the great advantage of being lightweight, which allowed for greater mobility in combat while protecting the warrior from a good part of projectiles, arrows and contusion weapons (Cervera, 2008)

The ordinances dictated by Moctezuma I established the distinction of the combatants by the use of costumes, badges, emblems, arms and hairstyles corresponding to certain type of warrior. These divisions could respond to different degrees, tactical units, or even ethnic affiliation. The costumes of the nobles were elaborated with expensive and exclusive materials that the commoners could not use, mainly feathers. Violating these standards was punishable by death (Bueno, 2012).

Within the hierarchical Mexican military structure, there were diverse classifications that reflected to a great extent the social status of the combatants from their origin and the merits that they had obtained in the battles. Each military order had a particular garment that referred to attributes and symbols of certain gods, and in many cases were based on representative totemic animals that conferred their qualities to the warriors. These suits were placed on top of the cotton armor which, along with the impressive plumes of feathers over their heads, gave them a formidable image in front of the enemy. Among the most important orders are the eagle or cuautli warriors; The jaguar or ocelotl warriors; Coyotes, otomies, among others. They enjoyed tax breaks and other privileges (Bueno, 2009a, pp. 17-18).
Among the nobles were also the priests who, instructed in the calmecac, formed an important part of the imperial troops. They led the army, bearing the images of the protective gods, but not only were they limited to that, but they fought in battles and ascended the ladder by demonstrating their skill in combat, although apparently they needed more merits than the rest Of the noble warriors to obtain the same degrees. They were also responsible for "seizing" the gods of the vanquished peoples, to locate them in the temple that had been built in Tenochtitlan for this purpose (Bueno, 2009a, p.15).




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2.2. Defensive Weapons
Along with the offensive weapons it is necessary to develop means of protection to counteract or diminish their impact. Thus, the creation of new weapons produces the emergence of defensive innovations, and vice versa. For their part, defensive weapons can be of two basic types: passive, which are integrated into the body, such as breastplates, breastplates, helmets, etc .; And the active ones, which are carried and wielded by the combatant. The shields, which are in constant movement to keep protected at all times the warrior that holds him. The Aztec warriors defended themselves with armor, helmets and shields made with materials adapted to both the climate and the type of weapons they used.

The escaupil or ichcahuipilli was a garment stuffed with cotton and reinforced of different sizes to protect the greater or smaller measure the body. Such was their resistance that it could withstand the impact of many of the weapons of the armory of the Mesoamerican armies (Bruhn 1986: 44). This armor was worn alone or under the tlahuiztli or warrior costumes, depending on the rank of these, and could be completed with arm and thigh protections made in the same fabric (Bueno, 2012b, p.
The helmets or cuatepoztli were made of wood or leather, and also of cotton, with ornaments on top. They could have the form of head of animals that carried the different military orders according to its animal or representative entity like the jaguars or the eagles. The mouths are open, showing the strong teeth, which is why the face of the warrior appears (Bruhn 1986: 35).
There were several types of shields. The most characteristic was the chimalli, round in shape with a diameter of 20 to 75 cm, made of leather, with reeds attached with fibers, and a kind of skirt of leather or fabric with mosaics of feathers, with symbols, heraldry and animals (Bruhn 1986, 45). It was designed with a great variety of motifs related to the military ranks and the very attributes of the gods (Cervera, 2008, 231).

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2.1. Weapons offensive these can divided to its time in weapons portables for the fight body to body and the arrojadizas/missile weapon for reach objectives to distance. The deployment cocktail of these weapons available its employment in the field of battle in sequences established: initially the use of weapons of long reach for weaken to the enemy, and then send the forces of shock for the clash direct. Since of different schemes seek incapacitate or kill. There are weapons cutting, sharp, strong or a mixture of the previous. Initially predominaba the use of weapons of impact, that producing traumas severe for the force of impact, as hubs and clubs of various forms (bruhn, 1986, p. 41). However, then they would give step to the weapons cutting more long and light with the placing of stones of obsidian of 5 cm of long in the edges for dotarlas of edges sharp. So, arises the macuahuitl, a weapon long and solid used since early of posclásico late, used generally for good part of mesoamérica, including groups as the mixtecas, tarascanos, tlaxcaltecas and other (cervera, 2006, p. 139). Commonly is associated with the sword or the baton, although cervera (2006) holds the peculiarity of this weapon because to its features morphological  and employment, not is comparable to some of these artifacts (p. 128). Is mention two types: the elongated with 70-80 cm of length; and other more cropped of 50 cm (called macuahuilzoctlh). For other part, good (2012b) mentioned that were two types of macuahuitl: the of 70 cm that the warrior wearing alongside a shield and other larger, of some 150 cm that is used with the two hands (p. 39). The structure of macuahuitl was of wood, possibly of oak (hassig, 1988, p. 83); although not is has certainty of type. A project of reconstruction of that gives account cervera (2006) is questions about the features that could have had. A wood heavy is more resistant, but presents less stability, the that ago that required the use of both hands. Instead a more light and flexible that offer a management easier. The amalgam used for hold the pieces of obsidian was a class special of resin, generally of a plant call tzinacancuítlatl or "excrement of bat" (cervera, 2008, p. 227). Result complicated clarify the doubts with regarding its elaboration, already that not remains practically none original. About its ability destructive, there are stories of the effects of this weapon in the chronic. The that is can note is the edge considerable that presents. However, one of the main problem would be the of the durability of the leaves. A impact very strong can produce, depending of the force of impact, that the leaves of obsidian is leave of mango of wood or its break. The efficacy of cut of macuahuitl is would see limited for the elevated wear. Is of suponerse that of have a use extensive, would have a production dedicated to the repair and refection of these. Cervera (2011) suggests that its can lay in the lascas of obsidian that left embedded in the bone of injured and with they a infection or haemorrhage mortal. The teputzopilli were weapons long to way of spears used so for nail as for cut thanks to its edges of obsidian to the long of the edges of wood (of form similar to the macuahuitl), for the that were comparable to a halberd. To weigh of seem a weapon arrojadiza, was designed for the fight near, advantage its length for keep to distance to the opponent. The projectiles always were important for allowed attack since distances more. With the development of the weapons arrojadizas, the field of battle is extends in its extension. Among the weapons of long reach is found the spears arrojadizas, similar to the javelins. The arch (tlahuitolli) and the arrow (mitl) would have been introduced late since the north to the center of mexico for the 1 100 d.c. for the groups chichimecas in the epiclásico or the posclásico early, i.e., were a innovation in the armament without comparison until apparition, for that same time, of macuahuitl (cervera, 2008, p. 259). The arch is manufactured of a hardwood, especially strong and flexible. The rope should can bear the tension of arch. Could be made of leather ready, although commonly is used fibers of plants. Also is used nerves of animals and hair of deer spinning (good, 2012b, p. 38). Because to the impact of the rope to the moment of be released, was necessary that the archer protect its arm left with a sleeve long of skin fresh of deer or of leather for receive the blow. With regarding the arrow, the usual was the use of cane for do the astil, but also could be of wood. Were several types of point with a form special. Commonly were of flint, flint, obsidian or of copper; and in the costs used also of bones of fish (good, 2012b, p. 38). In its majority, producing injuries fatal or whose extraction was extremely difficult for is penetrated in the meat because to its form. Close of extreme end, is placed feathers in form of spiral for produce a movement of rotation that allowed stabilize the arrow and give more force in the penetration. For can cover the need of projectiles, the various cultures had centers of production for manufacture the quantity necessary of arrows. In the time aztec, the arches and of arrows were manufactured in days special marked in the calendar ceremonial in workshops special located in the courtyard in the temple of god of the war, huitzilopochtli. The arrows were transported in a case suspended in the back or quiver, of way that the archer could them out quickly. According to the sources, a handle could shoot until twenty arrows for minute (bruhn, 1986, p. 38). This allowed a fast frequency of shot and place on the enemy a great number of arrows. These aventajaban to the deep for its ability of penetration and of produce injuries to a distance considerable (hassig, 2007, p. 34). Its size, material and other features could vary depending of the regions, tribes and level of culture, and the resources available in the area. The aztecs followed using deep (tematlatl) elaborate with fibers of ixtle extracted of maguey with stones polished in form spherical for get more stability with a projectile of proportions more regular. The stones could reach 100 meters of distance (cervera, 2011).

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I remembered drawing this in high school for a presentation on Aztecs over a decade ago:


Not the most impressive piece, but it's something...  I forgot the exact context of the reference image, but the guy on the right is Aztec. Guy on the left is a local enemy. 



Edited by Sundiata
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An Aztec legend recounts that an eagle perched on a prickly-pear cactus, eating a snake, indicated the place where the Aztecs were to found Tenochtitlan. Today the Mexican flag and coat of arms depict this eagle.

The Aztecs constructed Tenochtitlan on roughly five square miles of land reclaimed from Lake Texcoco, which surrounded their capital. Its population reached as many as 250,000, making it larger than any city in Europe, except perhaps Naples and Constantinople, and four times the size of Seville. Only the cities of China, unknown to Spaniards and Aztecs alike, exceeded its population. Sophisticated systems provided food, trade goods, and potable water to the city’s population.

The difficulty of hauling grain in societies lacking wheeled vehicles and draught animals imposed size limits on Mesoamerican cities. Tenochtitlan could escape these limits since large cargo canoes, which came from distant waterfronts, provisioned the city with grain and other produce.

In 1519, Tenochtitlan was the largest city that had ever existed in the New World. Its size and grandeur reflected its status as an imperial capital, and its large buildings made a statement about the might and control of its rulers, thus legitimizing and contributing to their power. In laying out the city, planners consciously adopted the model of Tula, since Tula and the Toltec practices served as the source of Aztec political and social legitimacy.

With the exception of Tenochtitlan, most Aztec cities were not large. The second largest, Texcoco, had a population of 25,000. Secondary cities served as ceremonial centers of the Aztec territorial division known as the altepetl. Temples soared high above the plazas of these cities. The altepetl was the political unit responsible for collecting tribute from the villages and rural people within its boundaries. This tribute would then be distributed to the local elite and to Tenochtitlan. The altepetl also organized manpower in time of war and for construction projects. A hereditary leader known as a tlatoani, or speaker, headed each altepetl. Residents of each altepetl considered themselves a separate people from those elsewhere, even though all were Aztecs.

By 1465, the Aztecs had the entire Valley of Mexico under their control. During the next half-century, the Aztecs extended their control across 140,000 square miles stretching from modern Querétaro and Guanajuato in the north to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the south. Divine sanction and generations of military triumphs bolstered Aztec confidence.

Generally the Aztecs did not establish permanent garrisons in conquered territory. Merchants, known as pochteca, and tax collectors, known as calpixtli, were usually the only Aztec presence among the conquered. Recurrent bloody, punitive expeditions prevented disaffected subjects from challenging Aztec suzerainty or failing to supply demanded tribute. On the eve of the Spanish conquest, the Aztec empire constituted a massive agglomeration of 38 provinces, embracing a range of cultural and linguistic traditions.

Human sacrifice formed a salient characteristic of Aztec society. The Aztecs claimed that human sacrifices propitiated the god Huitzilopochtli (Humming Bird of the South) and thus prevented the destruction of the earth and the sun for a fifth time. Aztec belief held that humans had existed in four previous worlds and that all had perished when these worlds were destroyed. To reintroduce humans to the fifth world, Quetzalcoatl made a perilous journey to steal human bones from Mictlantecuhtli, the lord of the underworld. The gods then gave life to the bones by shedding blood on them.

Modern scholars have yet to reach consensus on why Aztec sacrifice played such an important role. The threat of being sacrificed might have intimidated conquered subjects. Some modern scholars have attributed such frequent human sacrifice to the need for animal protein in a society lacking cattle. (Victims were eaten after the sacrifice.) Others maintain that sufficient protein existed and that sacrifice served to reduce the population. Aztec sacrificial practices were used by the Spanish to justify the Conquest. However, as archeologist Robert J. Sharer commented, “Before we decry practices such as human sacrifice, we should remember that Europeans of 500 years ago burned people alive in the name of religion and submitted ‘heretics’ to an array of tortures and protracted executions.”

The Aztecs perfected one of the most productive agricultural systems ever devised—the chinampa. Chinampas were artificial islands, located near lakeshores, which measured from fifteen to thirty feet in width and up to 300 feet in length. Aztecs grew crops in soil piled on these islands. Lake water penetrated the entire chinampa, moistening roots. Mud scooped up from the lake bottom and night soil brought from Tenochtitlan by canoe maintained fertility. Eventually chinampas covered 25,000 acres in the Valley of Mexico. Chinampa-produced food facilitated the rapid expansion of the Aztec empire.

Chinampas formed part of the rich lacustrine culture that developed in the Valley of Mexico. Lakefront villages relied heavily on the abundant fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and 109 aquatic bird species that inhabited the 252 square miles of lakes in the Valley of Mexico. Canoes facilitated communication between villages and with Tenochtitlan. These canoes could transport a ton of grain, roughly ten times what the Spanish-introduced mule could carry.

The charismatic megacivilizations, such as the Maya and the Aztec, only covered limited areas of present-day Mexico and only dominated their area of influence for relatively short periods. In addition, there were innumerable other ethnic groups. They adapted themselves to the widely varying environments in which they found themselves. Most lacked the attributes of civilization—social classes, states, and hieratic religion. They accumulated knowledge concerning a variety of terrestrial and aquatic species that furnished them with food, fibers, raw materials, and medicines. Many such people lived in the deserts of northern Mexico. Even though they did not have a rich material culture, what they did have—projectile points, scrapers, milling stones, baskets, and mats—has been well preserved in desert caves.






“The basic units of the Spanish forces were infantry and cavalry to which were added separate units of arquebusiers (musketeers) and cross-bowmen, as well as the crews that manned the small cannon.  The principal use of firearms was to break down the enemy charges, before the warriors could effectively launch their darts, slingstones, and arrows.  Cavalry was used to break the enemy lines by charging and following up with swords, after which the infantry moved in, wielding swords and long pikes tipped with steel blades.  These weapons were more effective than the obsidian-bladed clubs carried by the Indians, for not only was more time required to lift and swing a club than to thrust and jab with a sword, but more space was needed, meaning the Indians tended to advance in loose formations.  By contrast the Spanish pikemen advanced shoulder to shoulder in deep file formations, with the projecting lines of pikes offering an almost impregnable barrier.” 


Resultado de imagen para clothes aztec warrior war post classic


So, in addition to the fact that there is no evidence in ancient Mesoamerica of metal breastplates, such armor would have been impractical for the area, as well. It is unreasonable to even pretend that the breastplate mentioned by Lucy Smith and others was actually quilted cotton. Not only would she have known the difference between the feel of cotton and metal, but the cotton would have disintegrated long before being discovered by Joseph Smith.

 If the ancient Mesoamericans wore metal breastplates, then they disappeared without a trace, and were not practical to begin with.   

More witnesses testified to seeing the silver bow attaching the stones of the Urim and Thummim, as well as, of course, the gold plates.  As I mentioned earlier, ancient Mesoamericans did know what “metal” was, in the form of natural outcrops or meteoric remains, and worked with it from the Olmec time period onward.  However, none of this evidence can be reasonably interpreted to mean they had the technology to fashion an entire book made of thick gold plates, or a silver bow holding stones.  The majority of the early metalworking was in the form of iron mirrors, which were likely used in ritual ceremonies.  From The Olmecs, by Richard Diehl, page 44:


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