The Aztec Calendar and Cosmology – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Astronomical History & Mythology Glossary

I. What is the Aztec Calendar?

The Aztec Calendar, also known as the Sun Stone or the Stone of the Five Eras, is a large stone monolith that was carved by the Aztecs in the early 16th century. It is one of the most iconic symbols of Aztec civilization and is considered a masterpiece of Mesoamerican art. The calendar is made up of two separate but interlocking systems: the Tonalpohualli, a 260-day ritual calendar, and the Xiuhpohualli, a 365-day solar calendar.

II. What is the significance of the Aztec Calendar in Aztec cosmology?

In Aztec cosmology, the calendar was seen as a sacred and divine tool that governed the passage of time and the cycles of life and death. The Aztecs believed that the universe was constantly in motion and that the calendar was a way to understand and align themselves with the cosmic forces at play. The calendar was used to determine auspicious days for various activities, such as planting crops, going to war, or conducting religious ceremonies.

III. How was the Aztec Calendar used in daily life and religious ceremonies?

The Aztec Calendar played a central role in the daily lives of the Aztec people. It was used to organize time, plan events, and mark important dates such as religious festivals and rituals. The calendar was also used in divination practices, where priests would consult it to determine the best course of action in various situations. In religious ceremonies, the calendar was used to schedule rituals and sacrifices, which were believed to appease the gods and ensure the continued harmony of the universe.

IV. What is the Aztec creation myth and how does it relate to the calendar?

According to Aztec mythology, the world was created and destroyed multiple times before the current era, which is known as the Fifth Sun. The Aztec creation myth is closely tied to the calendar, as each era is associated with a specific deity and a specific set of cosmic forces. The Aztec Calendar was seen as a representation of the divine order of the universe, with each day and month corresponding to a different deity or aspect of nature.

V. What astronomical knowledge did the Aztecs possess and how did it influence their calendar and cosmology?

The Aztecs were skilled astronomers who made detailed observations of the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. They developed a sophisticated calendar system that was based on their astronomical knowledge, allowing them to accurately track the passage of time and predict celestial events. The Aztec Calendar was closely linked to the movements of the sun and moon, with each day and month corresponding to a specific astronomical event. This knowledge influenced their religious beliefs and rituals, as they believed that the gods controlled the movements of the celestial bodies.

VI. How does the Aztec Calendar compare to other Mesoamerican calendars?

The Aztec Calendar is just one of several Mesoamerican calendars that were developed by different civilizations in the region. While the Aztec Calendar shares some similarities with other calendars, such as the use of a 260-day ritual calendar, it also has unique features that set it apart. For example, the Aztec Calendar is more complex and intricate than other Mesoamerican calendars, with its intricate carvings and detailed symbolism. Additionally, the Aztec Calendar was used in conjunction with other calendars, such as the Long Count calendar used by the Maya, to create a more comprehensive understanding of time and the cosmos.