Continuity and Change in Mesoamerican Religion

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All cultures have enduring belief structures, but customs and rituals tied to these beliefs can differ significantly, creating distinct religious practices. This is evident in the Mayans and the Aztecs of Mesospheric. Both civilizations placed great importance on the stars and celestial movements, constructing observatories that survive even today.

Both cultures were governed by divine kings who erected grand monuments to worship the gods and ensure their eternal existence. However, the two cultures differed greatly in their methods and extent of sacrifice, as well as their approach to acquiring sacrificial victims. The similarities and differences in both regions can be attributed to their geographical isolation, which limited external influences on the religious practices of the Mesospheric people.

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The Mayans and Aztecs were both avid star gazers, using this practice to foresee the future and make sense of religious events. The Mayans constructed several observatories across their different city states, notably one in Cheney Ditz. By closely and meticulously observing the stars, the Mayans successfully predicted Venus’s transit and even created a clock that some claim was more precise than today’s atomic clock.

The Mayans also utilized the stars for various purposes including scheduling sacrifices, writing the Amman Codices, and aligning buildings. The influence of celestial alignment on culture is not limited to this region. Examples can be found in places such as Stonehenge and the great pyramids in Egypt, where ancient civilizations utilized astronomy in a similar manner. Similarly, the Aztec people also relied on the stars to schedule religious holidays that involved human sacrifice, foresee the future, and orient pyramids, much like the Mayans.

These similarities between the Mayans and the Aztecs can be explained by their geographical proximity. The Mayans, a pre-classical civilization, had an influence on the Aztecs just like how the Greeks influenced the Romans. Both the Mayans and Aztec rulers were revered as gods and accomplished impressive engineering feats, despite their lack of access to the wheel. The Mayans even believed that their ruler was a manifestation of the sun god, Equatorial.

To ensure their authority and guarantee a smooth journey into the afterlife, the kings enlisted the construction of grand architectural wonders, willingly erected by the people to demonstrate their deep belief in the king’s divine nature. Mirroring this belief, the leaders were laid to rest in magnificent tombs, ensuring eternal bliss alongside the gods. One noteworthy instance is the Applique tomb of Pascal, situated beneath a colossal pyramid. Similarly, the Aztec revered comparable deities and shared the belief that their ruler possessed a connection to ten sun go, Equatorial.

In the Aztec civilization, rulers constructed large pyramids as offerings to the gods and to maintain social harmony, similar to the practices in the Amman culture. These similarities might be attributed to cultural diffusion, with Amman ideas spreading from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Aztec society in Central Mexico. Both the Mayans and the Aztec incorporated astronomy and believed that rulers were divine beings throughout history. However, the Aztec modified their sacrificial rituals and increased their scale.

The Mayans developed the ritual of self-mutilation, where a king would fast, consume hallucinogenic drugs, bleed onto paper, and burn it to communicate with the gods while in a trance. Additionally, they occasionally performed human sacrifice by painting the victim with Maya Blue, cutting out their heart, and disposing of their body in sacred wells like the one discovered in Cheney Ditz, which has revealed hundreds of remains according to archaeologists.

The Mayans obtained their victims from wars and by selecting “suitable” candidates, predominantly young children and women. In contrast, the Aztec also engaged in human sacrifice but did not engage in self-mutilation. Additionally, the level of sacrifice among the Aztec was much higher, with numerous people being sacrificed daily and thousands on holidays, all done to ensure the sun continued to rise and to appease the gods. While the Aztec performed the basic sacrifice similarly to the Mayans, they did not decorate the victim.

The Aztecs had a gruesome method of sacrifice. Instead of simply killing their victims, they would cut off their limbs. These limbs were then given to the soldiers who had captured the victims, who would eat them. Additionally, instead of disposing of the bodies in a sacred well as was tradition, the Aztecs would throw them down the steps of the pyramid. This brutal practice is depicted in Aztec paintings and has been documented by various tribes from the region. The Aztecs would carry out these sacrifices during flower wars, where they would conquer towns and capture victims for sacrifice in their capital city of Denominational.

This practice, which instilled fear in the inhabitants of their empire and helped prevent rebellion, was also depicted in pictures. Similar to the Middle East, the State performed sacrifice rituals with animals, but in Mesospheric, people were chosen due to the lack of draft animals. The Mayans generated numerous ideas that the Aztec later incorporated into their own culture, modifying certain aspects to suit their needs. Both cultures relied on astronomy in their religion as a way to anticipate the future and schedule religious holidays.

In addition, both cultures maintained the belief that their rulers were descendants of the sun god Equatorial and that the population should contribute to honoring the ruler by participating in the construction of monumental public works. However, the practice of sacrifice varied significantly between the two cultures, as the Aztecs adapted the Amman sacrifice to suit their own requirements. Although they developed autonomously, trade facilitated by the state promoted cultural exchange, resulting in numerous enduring similarities. Nevertheless, changes occurred in response to the specific demands that emerged over time.

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Continuity and Change in Mesoamerican Religion. (2017, Sep 04). Retrieved from

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