Aztecs Created an Incredibly Accurate Agricultural Calendar Using Mountains and the Sun’s Movement

It is believed that the Aztecs used their knowledge of the sun's movement to plan their agricultural activities in order to maximize crop yields.

Aztecs Created an Incredibly Accurate Agricultural Calendar Using Mountains and the Sun’s Movement
Cover Image Source: Aztec natural sandstone formation on north shore of Lake Mead. - stock photo Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada, United States, North America/ GettyImages
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According to Science Daily, Aztecs had an incredibly complex calendar system that was used to keep track of important dates and events. The Aztec calendar was a combination of two different calendars, one being the 365-day solar calendar and the other being the 260-day ritual calendar. Now, a new paper published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, on December 12, 2022, has revealed that the Aztecs may have had an even deeper understanding of the solar system than previously thought and that the solar calendar was based on the position of the sun over a series of mountains.

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Aztec calendar stone carving in space - stock photo/ GettyImages
Representative Image Source: GettyImages/PBNJ Productions

 

According to the study, the Aztecs used their calendar to track the sun’s position over a series of mountains. This was done by observing the sun’s position from a central point in the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs then took this information and incorporated it into their calendar.

"We concluded they must have stood at a single spot, looking eastwards from one day to another, to tell the time of year by watching the rising sun," said Exequiel Ezcurra, distinguished UC Riverside professor of ecology who led the research.

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The study also suggests that the Aztecs developed a sophisticated knowledge of the solar system and were able to accurately predict the position of the sun over a mountain range. This allowed them to have a more precise understanding of the movement of the sun and its effects on the environment. It is believed that the Aztecs used this knowledge to plan their agricultural activities in order to maximize their crop yields.

Teotihuacan Aerial - stock photo
The moon and the sun pyramids at the Aztec site Teotihuacan in Central Mexico./ GettyImages
Representative Image Source: Getty Images/Mexico Shoots

"Our hypothesis is that they used the whole Valley of Mexico. Their working instrument was the Basin itself. When the sun rose at a landmark point behind the Sierras, they knew it was time to start planting," Ezcurra said.

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It is said that the Aztecs may have used their knowledge of the solar system to build monuments and other structures. For example, the Aztecs built a large pyramid in the city of Cholula that was aligned with the sun and the mountains. This suggests that they had a deep understanding of the sun’s position and its effects on the environment.

The findings of this study are significant because the Aztecs had much more advanced knowledge of the solar system than previously thought. It is believed that the Aztecs used this knowledge to plan their agricultural activities, build monuments and structures, and track important dates and events. This new study adds to our understanding of the Aztecs and their sophisticated knowledge of the solar system.