The 10 Best Difference Between Aztec and Mayan

Nov 20, 2023
Difference Between Aztec and Mayan

Aztec and Mayan: Aztecs and Mayans were two distinct civilizations of Mesoamerica that share common roots. Mexico first fell under Mayan control before the Aztecs took control. Both Mayan culture, with their writing systems and knowledge-oriented society associated with knowledge astronomy; as well as warfare-minded Aztec culture were often known for. Maya civilization eventually dispersed like other societies but not completely like others due to the Spanish conquest of Aztec civilization – both civilizations are fascinating subjects worthy of further investigation.

Brief overview of the Aztec civilization

Aztecs were an advanced and organized society located in Mesoamerica between the 14th and 16th centuries, ruling an empire covering much of central Mexico known as the Mexica or Aztecan empires. 

Aztecs are descendants of Mexicas, nomadic peoples from northern Mexico who settled the Valley of Mexico after migrating southwards. Over time, the Aztecs gradually formed alliances with nearby city-states in the form of what eventually became known as The Aztec Empire.

Tenochtitlan was the Aztec capital, located on an island within Lake Texcoco. Amidst stunning architecture such as temples and pyramids, Tenochtitlan was an exquisite city. With causeways, canals, and impressive architecture including causeways.

Aztec society was organized hierarchically. At its top was Emperor Tlatoani (or Tlatorani for short). He held political and religious authority. To him were subservient nobles and priests as well as warriors and merchants – with most people falling under peasants’ or commoners’ authority.

  • Agriculture: To support their populace, Aztecs relied heavily on intensive farming. To maximize production and increase yields, chinampas (artificial islands for growing produce) were constructed. Their economy also benefitted greatly from trade with conquered territories as well as tribute from them.
  • Religion and Mythology: Aztecs were known for their complex religious system. Worshippers worshipped an intricate pantheon as well as engaging in elaborate ceremonies that often included human sacrifice. Huitzilopochtli was their supreme deity – considered both Sun god and warlord by some accounts.
  • Aztec Education and Writing: Aztec education programs were intended to prepare young people for roles they would play within society, using pictograms, as well as Nahuatl writing systems, mainly used for recording religious and historical data.
  • Conquest and expansion: To expand their empire, the Aztecs conducted military campaigns. Once conquered areas were subjugated under their rule, tribute was demanded from these regions which supported both their economy and empire.
  • Spanish Conquest: Hernan Cortes came into power and overthrew the Aztec Empire, initially misinterpreted by them as their god until conflicts broke out between the groups resulting in Tenochtitlan’s fall in 1521 and eventual colonization by Spain.

Aztec culture and history have left an indelible imprint on Mexico. Their architectural achievements, agricultural techniques, artistic traditions, and religious practices are still studied today.

A brief overview of the Maya civilization

Maya civilization flourished from 2000 BCE until the 16th Century CE in Mesoamerica and encompassed Mexico, Guatemala Belize Honduras, and El Salvador. Here is an introduction to their culture:

  1. Geographic and Cultural Diversey: The Maya civilization encompassed many kingdoms and city-states spread out over various geographic terrains including rainforests in tropical climates, mountains, coastal plains, as well as rainforests in sub-Tropic regions. While regional differences were present between Mayan peoples they shared many cultural traits including complex writing systems calendars religious beliefs despite any regional variations
  2. City-States & Urban Centers: Maya civilization comprised several autonomous city-states governed by local rulers. Each Mayan state featured stunning architectural features in their central cities – temples and pyramids were especially noted; ball courts, palaces, and other structures also made an impression statement about Mayan society as a whole – Tikal, Palenque, and Chichen Itza were some of the more iconic Maya cities at that time.
  3. Astronomy, Mathematics, and Advancements: The Maya were skilled mathematicians and astronomers who developed an accurate calendar system based on celestial body observations to predict and track celestial events. Mayan math also included zero as well as complex numeral systems.
  4. Writing System Hieroglyphs: The Maya had an intricate hieroglyphic writing system that used hieroglyphs as symbols to document historical events and religious ceremonies as well as provide astronomical details. Deciphering their hieroglyphs has helped us gain more insight into their culture.
  5. Agriculture and Trade: The Maya were known for employing advanced agricultural practices like terraced farming or irrigation systems to cultivate maize, beans, squash, and cacao for consumption by their society. Furthermore, trade was an integral component of Mayan society – they traded valuable items like textiles, jade, and obsidian across vast distances to keep themselves alive economically.
  6. Maya Society and Religion: Maya society was organized along a hierarchical structure with rulers at the top, followed by priests, artisans, merchants, and farmers. At its center was the Maya religion: they worshipped a pantheon associated with fertility, agriculture, natural elements, and gods as their deities of choice while practicing rituals, sacrifices, and divination to honor this faith.
  7. Maya artisans and artists: Maya artisans were masters of both art and architecture, producing pottery, murals and intricate sculptures depicting mythological scenes or rulers; Maya stone architecture often included intricate carvings with decorative or ornamental features that made its presence known.
  8. Decline and Abandonment: Classic Maya Civilization experienced an abrupt and mysterious decline around the 9th Century CE, as the population decreased and many cities were abandoned. Scholars continue to debate why this decline happened – possible causes include environmental degradation, warfare, social unrest or political instability.
  9. Legacy of Maya Civilization: Although Classic Maya civilization declined, Mayan traditions and culture still pervade throughout this region’s indigenous populations, and millions of Mayan descendants still protect this rich tradition through art forms, languages, customs, and practices that span generations.

Maya’s achievements in mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and writing stand as a testament to their intellectual and cultural accomplishments. Their legacy continues to inspire and charm people around the globe while offering valuable insight into ancient Mesoamerican civilizations.

Importance and influence of both civilizations in Mesoamerican history

Aztecs and Mayas played an enormous role in Mesoamerican history. Their impact can be found throughout its social, cultural, and political realms – here are just a few key indicators demonstrating this fact:

  1. Cultural Advances Both civilizations made significant cultural advances that will last generations to come. Aztecs kept detailed historical records and developed their own writing system while Mayans developed complex writing techniques of their own. Their art, architecture and religious beliefs displayed impressive ingenuity – evidenced in artwork such as pyramids.
  2. Aztecs and Mayas both created agricultural innovations to support large populations living across various environments, using artificial islands known as chinampas for farming purposes; terraced agriculture as well as water management techniques were among these innovations. Together these ancient societies engaged in farming practices that significantly increased food production while simultaneously meeting their growing society’s needs by utilizing advanced farming practices such as terraced agriculture or water management methods such as terraced agriculture techniques.
  3. Commerce, Both civilizations had extensive trade networks to help facilitate the spread of ideas, goods, and influences across long distances. Maya merchants carried cacao bean pods over long distances while Tenochtitlan hosted an enormous market system that attracted traders from everywhere around them.
  4. Aztecs and Mayas both built empires with military power that controlled vast territories. Aztecs particularly expanded their empire through conquest, then created tribute systems in conquered areas to keep control. Mesoamerica was greatly affected by its influence as geopolitical dynamics changed accordingly.
  5. Religion was of vital significance in Aztec and Mayan societies and cultures alike, worshiping an intricate pantheon with elaborate rituals including human sacrifice to honor their gods and appease their spirits. Religious practices also played an integral part in shaping social structures, authorities, and cultures across these regions.
  6. Science Knowledge Both civilizations displayed advanced knowledge in mathematics and astronomy, especially Mayan astronomers’ ability to track celestial movement precisely while creating accurate calendars; similarly, Aztecs demonstrated a great understanding of mathematics and astronomy as well.
  7. The Aztecs and Mayas left behind an immeasurable legacy; even after they fell under conquest and their civilization crumbled away. Yet their descendants’ traditions, language, art, and religious practices continue to thrive among Mesoamerican indigenous populations today – their cultural heritage is an invaluable component of identity and history.

Aztec and Maya civilizations cannot be overestimated when discussing Mesoamerican History. Their contributions in agriculture, culture, commerce, science, and governance continue to intrigue historians worldwide and help us gain greater insights into Mesoamerican cultures’ richness and complexity.

Geographical and Temporal Differences

The Aztecs and Mayas had distinct geographical, temporal, cultural, historical, and philosophical distinctions that helped form their histories and cultures over time. Here are three highlights to highlight these distinctions between them.

Geographic Differences

Aztecs: the Aztec civilization emerged in the Valley of Mexico – an elevated plateau situated surrounded by mountain ranges – where Tenochtitlan served as their capital city on an island within Lake Texcoco and offered diverse ecosystems such as volcanoes, lakes, and marshes.

Maya Culture: Modern-day Maya civilization covers Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize in addition to El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize. Maya people lived in diverse habitats that ranged from rainforest tropical, lowland plains, and highland plateaus – they also had access to coastal regions for coastal trading purposes. Aztec Empire Reached its Peak during the 15th Century; However, with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in 1521 brought by conquest they came tumbling down quickly and decisively.

Maya civilization can be divided into various time periods, including Preclassic (2000 BCE – 250 CE), Classical (250-900 CE), and Postclassic (1521-1521 CE) periods. Classical Maya culture was at its zenith during this era.

Cultural Exchange

Aztecs: Due to their geographical position in central Mexico’s highlands, the Aztecs experienced many interactions with various cultures including those belonging to the Toltec empire – this ultimately had a great influence over their art, religion, and architecture.

Maya: Maya had an extensive geographical reach and several independent city-states. Although they interacted and traded among themselves, their art styles, architectural structures, and cultural practices varied significantly depending on which Mayan city-state they were from.

Environmental Factors

Aztecs: When farming near marshy lakes, the Aztecs employed chinampas as farming platforms. Furthermore, frequent flooding meant creating complex canal systems as protection measures.

Maya: These people had to adapt to various ecosystems such as tropical lowlands and rainforests, which necessitated developing advanced agricultural methods like terracing, water management, and irrigation to cultivate crops in difficult environments.

Trade Networks

Aztecs: These ancient societies established vast trade networks which reached far beyond their immediate area, trading luxury items like feathers and textiles both locally and long distance.

Maya: They established extensive trading networks connecting various cities and regions of their empire. Mayan goods traded included pottery, agricultural produce, jade, obsidian and textiles among many others.

Geographic and temporal variations between Aztecs and Mayas played a critical role in their interaction with other cultures as they attempted to adapt to various environments, shaping both art forms as well as cultural traditions that led to unique artistic and cultural expressions unique to both civilizations – helping us better appreciate Mesoamerican civilisation’s diversity and complexity.

Social and Political Structure

Aztec and Mayan societies possessed distinctive social and political structures which played an essential role in society. Here are key facts regarding their social and political arrangements:

Aztec Social and Political Organization

Emperor: Emperors stood at the pinnacle of social and political hierarchies; their rule was supreme and they held absolute power, sometimes considered divine rulers.

Nobles: Nobles were those who held power below the Emperor and held land ownership privileges as well as participated in military and political campaigns. Priests played an indispensable part in religious rituals and ceremonies as well as the interpretation of omens. Additionally, they knew the calendar well and could perform divination rituals to interpret any signs from above or below that might portend troublesome outcomes for one’s religion or divination process. Commoners were an essential component of the empire’s functioning; making up over 78% of the population, and engaging in various fields like farming, craftsmanship, and trading.

Slavery in Aztec society: Slaves were acquired through war, penal codes, or birth. Slaves were considered the lowest class and had very limited rights.

Maya’s Political and Social Structure

Maya civilization consisted of numerous independent city-states with their own rulers and political structures; often revered religious leaders reigned supreme within these city-states as their rulers held both religious and secular power.

Maya culture saw the noble class hold prominent power positions within society. They advised rulers, served administrative roles and often controlled significant resources like trade networks or land.

Most of society consisted of commoners. Their main activities were farming, crafts, and trade – however, some worked the land or paid tribute to rulers if needed and participated in local affairs as part of this trade route.

Priests played an essential part in Maya culture. Priests performed religious sacrifices and translated religious texts while providing astronomical observations of Mayan rituals and beliefs which they knew well.

Slavery in Mayan culture encompassed prisoners of war or people owing large debts being turned into slaves as the lowest class in society – they would then perform laborious tasks for other Mayans as part of their services to them.

Both civilizations exhibited hierarchical structures with distinct positions for rulers and nobles; priests occupied specific roles within these hierarchies while commoners held distinct ones too; commoners supported economic and agricultural systems while ruling elites held significant religious and political authority – religion heavily impacted each society, while priests held tremendous influence over it all.

Cultural and Religious Beliefs

Aztec and Mayan cultures were strongly shaped by cultural and religious beliefs, which in turn determined world views, social norms, and everyday practices of life in these civilizations. Below are key cultural beliefs held by both civilizations:

Religion and Culture in Aztec Society

They honored many gods associated with different elements of nature or celestial bodies and each had cultural associations, Huitzilopochtli was considered their god of war and sun while Quetzalcoatl (the serpent-headed deity representing wisdom and creation) Tlaloc and Tlaloca (goddesses of fertility and rain respectively) were all important deities in their worshipping practice.

Aztec religion was built upon human sacrifice for godly appeasement and cosmic balance. Sacrifices typically took place as religious rituals with captured warriors or criminals being sacrificed as victims.

Aztec rituals took place at temples or pyramids considered holy by its practitioners, with Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple (or “Templo Mayor”) serving as its religious epicenter and largest building dedicated to religious practices of its religion.

Calendar System The Aztecs utilized an intricate calendar system that integrated solar and ritual cycles. They placed great importance in aligning religious rituals to specific dates in their calendar as they believed this could influence outcomes and actions taken by them.

Aztec iconography and art were full of symbolic references reflecting their culture’s religious practices and beliefs, with elaborate sculptures, ceramics, and codices featuring gods, mythical beings, and religious ceremonies depicted on sculptures, ceramics, and codices.

Maya culture and religion

They held to an elaborate pantheon complex of deities and gods which they revered throughout Mexico; each city and region in Mexico had its own set. Certain deities were held sacred regardless of region. Maya deities often represented natural elements, celestial bodies, agriculture, or any aspect of daily life that Mayans revered or needed support with.

Maya religion involved rituals, offerings, and ceremonies which include bloodletting, animal sacrifice, and incense burning ceremonies. Maya leaders were thought to be directly connected with Divine forces through these ceremonies.

These sites were considered holy by the Maya, who often associated them with celestial events and their associated celestial constellations.

Mayas had an in-depth knowledge of astronomy and developed sophisticated calendars to track celestial movement. According to Maya beliefs, celestial bodies had significant influences on earthly events; accurate astronomical observation played an essential part in religious practices as well as government practices.

Mythology and Creation Stories for Mayans. Maya has an elaborate mythology that recounts the origin and development of human civilization, often interweaved into religious texts passed orally through oral transmission and recorded codices as scripture.

Religion was of vital significance in both civilizations. Beliefs and practices within each culture pervaded every aspect of daily life from art, architecture, and governance – giving both cultures insight into natural forces as well as creating an identity within an expansive cosmos.

Architecture and Urban Planning

Aztecs and Mayas were known for their architectural and urban planning abilities as well as the artistic expression and values displayed. Here are key facts regarding architecture and urban design within these civilizations.

Aztec Architecture and Urban Planning

Aztec temples and pyramids served both religious and ceremonial functions in Tenochtitlan; its largest complex being Tenochtitlan’s Templo mayor which featured multiple gods made of stone, adobe, and decorated with carvings.

Palaces and government buildings of Aztec civilization

These structures served as administrative centers. Aztec architects constructed them on elevated platforms designed to house ruling classes while hosting political meetings or ceremonies.

  1. Because the Valley of Mexico was located so centrally to their civilization, Aztecs devised sophisticated canal systems in order to manage water resources more effectively while improving transportation. Aqueducts were also created as means to bring fresh water from distant sources directly into cities for consumption.
  2. For agricultural purposes, Aztecs relied upon chinampas – artificial islands constructed of mud and other materials – as floating gardens to support crop production in marshy lakes regions while simultaneously accommodating their large population within limited spaces. They used these Chinampas islands as agricultural tools.
  3. Tenochtitlan’s capital city, Tenochtitlan, had canals running throughout it that divided it up into sectors; with ceremonial and administrative centers at their centers surrounded by markets and residential areas.
  4. Maya Architecture and Urban Planning of West Michigan has undertaken to design, plan, and execute their urban plan with great precision.
  5. Maya Temples and Pyramids. As focal points of their cities, Mayan civilization erected stunning pyramids and temples as centerpieces. Crafted of stone structures featuring intricate carvings and ornamental elements, examples being the Pyramid of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza and Palenque’s Temple of Inscriptions respectively.
  6. Maya palaces and royal complexes served both as residences and administrative hubs. Characteristically characterized by courtyards, multiple-doored rooms, and intricate architectural features that symbolized power, these structures were hallmarks of Maya rulers’ status in society.
  7. Mesoamerican ballgame was played on ball courts crafted by Mayans with stone walls featuring sculptured reliefs for added architectural aesthetic and used for sporting and ritual performances alike.
  8. Maya Residential architecture varied according to social class and regional preferences. Common homes used perishable construction materials like wood and thatch; elite residences featured more durable options as well as courtyards.
  9. Maya urban planning was an elaborate procedure designed to link important structures and celestial events with functional spaces. Cities typically consisted of plazas or marketplaces at their center surrounded by agricultural fields or residential areas surrounded by road networks that connected these centers.

These two civilizations both displayed sophisticated urban planning and architectural principles in their structures; both were constructed for practical uses with religious significance while simultaneously showing off artistic achievements of each culture’s artistic legacy – Aztec architecture is revered while Mayan urban planning legacy still inspires admiration today.

Art and Writing Systems

Both Aztecs and Mayas had highly developed art and writing systems that communicated religious beliefs, historical events and cultural identities effectively. Here are three facts about art and writing in these ancient civilizations.

Aztec Art and Writing System

Codices were pictorial texts produced by the Aztecs using bark paper books filled with images, symbols, and glyphs for various uses ranging from religious to historical documentation.

  1. Aztecs developed an intricate hieroglyphic system of symbols and pictograms used to represent sounds, ideas and objects; often read from left-to-right, these glyphs would often appear on buildings, monuments and codices to record significant events and share information.
  2. Aztec textiles and featherwork were renowned for their exquisite artistry. Skilful feather placement created intricate, vibrant designs often representing deities, animals or scenes in mythology; textile techniques like brocades and tapestries were used to craft intricate patterns featuring vibrant hues.
  3. Aztec artists crafted relief sculptures of gods, mythological characters, historical figures and events as decorations in temples, public places and pyramids. Their sculptures often featured intricate details with symbolic significance as well as intricate detailings.
  4. Aztec Pottery was highly accomplished and varied. Vessels were produced using techniques including wheel-throwing and hand-molding; then painted with intricate designs depicting scenes from daily life, mythological tales or religious themes.

Maya Art Systems and Writing Systems

  1. Maya Hieroglyphics: One of the world’s oldest writing systems. Maya hieroglyphics is composed of symbols and glyphs representing individual syllables or concepts; its script was recorded on stone monuments, stelae, pottery vessels, and codices to record historical events, genealogical information, and ritual ceremonies.
  2. Murals and Frescoes: Maya buildings were embellished with murals and frescoes depicting mythological scenes, royal court scenes, rituals of court life, and daily activities as well as vibrant compositions made with natural pigments that created vivid compositions.
  3. Jade, Precious Objects, and the Maya: Jade was highly esteemed among them for its beauty as well as other valuable materials, with masks, figurines, and jewelry of jade decorated with intricate symbols representing mythological beings or animals and associated with royalty, spirituality, or social status.
  4. Textiles and Weaving: Maya weavers created intricate textiles on backstrap looms using intricate patterns drawn from Mayan mythology and cosmology for use as clothing, ceremonial wear, or trade commodities. These textiles could then be worn either directly as clothing, for ceremonial wear or traded between communities.

Art and writing among Aztecs and Mayas reveal their rich cultural, religious, and historical backgrounds. Not just decorative; writing systems served important functions such as communication, preservation of knowledge, cultural expression, and identity expression – these artistic achievements continue to delight and fascinate us today for their technical precision and creativity.

Agriculture and Subsistence Strategies

Both the Aztecs and Mayas relied heavily on agriculture as part of their survival and expansion strategies, developing sustainable farming techniques and new practices in Mesoamerican cultures to feed their growing populations. Below are several key points related to agricultural subsistence practices among Aztec and Maya civilizations.

Aztec Agriculture and Subsistence Strategy

  • Chinampas. The Aztecs utilized an innovative agricultural system called chinampas. Constructed like artificial islands near Lake Texcoco in Mexico’s Valley of Mexico by layering vegetation and mud onto mats made of reed, chinampas were utilized by farmers for cultivating amaranth, maize, bean squashes as well as beans at high yield and intensive farming levels.
  • Terracing was used by the Aztecs as a method for building agricultural platforms on hilly regions. They constructed terraces featuring an interlocked design on each slope in order to prevent soil erosion; then planted their terraces with maize, tomatoes and potatoes among other crops.
  • Crop diversification was an integral practice of Aztec society. Their agricultural landscape included maize as their staple food source but they also planted beans, squashes, amaranths tomatoes peppers and other fruit as other varieties were necessary to fulfill various ecological niches.
  • The Aztecs designed sophisticated irrigation systems to manage their water resources. Their construction of canals and aqueducts for storage and channeling provided constant availability during drought periods for crops that relied upon constant access to moisture for production.
  • The Aztecs established an expansive trading network which enabled them to access resources not immediately accessible in their immediate environment. Their neighbors traded agricultural produce, luxury items, and other goods with them while the conquered territory was often expected to pay tribute in agricultural products as tribute.

Maya Subsistence and Agriculture Strategies

  • Slash-and-Burn Agriculture The Maya utilized slash-and-burn agriculture – often known by its Danish equivalent “swidden farms”. They cleared forest areas by burning vegetation and cutting trees down before using their ashes to enrich the soil for growing maize, beans, and cacao. If soil fertility declined significantly they moved on to another plot as soon as their own was exhausted.
  • The Maya people, famous for their farming practices and stone wall construction on steep slopes to prevent soil erosion and maximize arable land, used terraced farms on hilly terrain to produce flat farming land that they used for crops such as maize, and cacao beans.
  • Agroforestry was an agricultural practice practiced by Mayans that integrated trees, plants, and crops together into their systems. Aside from main crops such as cacao or avocado trees for shade purposes or fruit-bearing trees that could yield fruit harvest, Agroforestry provided shade against erosion while offering many food choices and options to feed upon its population.
  • Mayas developed sophisticated water storage and collection systems for irrigation. Reservoirs, underground cisterns and canals were constructed by these Mayans in order to collect and distribute water during dry seasons – this allowed crop production.
  • Maya people recognized the vital role managed forests played in supporting agricultural practices. To do this, they utilized select sections of forest for cultivation while leaving most intact in order to access its resources such as wood, medicinal herbs, and wildlife.
  • Aztecs and Mayas both used innovative farming techniques to support their populations, developing subsistence strategies in order to make use of all available resources in their environment.

Decline and End of Civilization

Went through different events that contributed to the decline and eventual end of Aztec and Maya civilizations, thus contributing to their eventual demise. Below is a list of factors and events which led to this outcome.

Aztec Civilization in Decline

  • Hernan Cortes’ conquest in 1519 was one of the key factors leading to the downfall of Aztec civilization. At first, Aztecs mistook Spanish conquistadors as gods; soon enough conflicts emerged as Spanish superiority in weaponry and military tactics, along with diseases they brought like smallpox (and similar infections) undermined resistance among Aztecs.
  • Aztec political stability was further undermined by internal dissension and rivalries within their empire, particularly between certain subject states that disapproved of Aztec rule and those conquered territories looking to form alliances with Spanish invaders. Further divisions further diminished resistance against Spanish conquest.
  • Economic disruption caused by Spanish gold and silver extraction and their introduction of an alternative economic system disrupted Aztec agricultural and trading practices, eventually leading to an increase in their empire’s economy.

Decline of Maya Civilization

  • Many believe environmental degradation and depletion were major contributing factors in the collapse of Maya civilization. Deforestation, soil erosion caused by overpopulation and lack of land available for farming led to reduced agricultural output and food shortages putting pressure on Mayan society which ultimately resulted in political and social unrest and instability for them.
  • Political Fragmentation – Maya civilization was distinguished by its many city-states, each having its own ruling class and separate ruling class system. Unfortunately, intercity conflicts caused havoc to their political system which eventually disintegrated completely over time.
  • With agricultural production decreasing and trade routes disrupted, as well as an unstable global environment exacerbated by long-distance trade networks collapsing and key trade partners leaving, the Maya civilization faced economic decline. Economic instability only worsened further with their collapse as trade partners were left without resources to transact trade with.
  • Shifting social and cultural dynamics such as shifting religious beliefs may also have contributed to the demise of the Maya civilization. Abandoned ceremonial centers and monuments as indicators of these changes suggest changes within their socioreligious structure.
  • Maya Civilization most likely declined as a result of invasion and warfare, although not as drastically. Foreign invasions played an essential role, with Maya cities often conquered or invaded by other groups; disrupting regional power dynamics and leading to political unrest as a result of invasion or foreign intervention.
  • Although both cultures have experienced a decline over the years, indigenous groups and communities still maintain rich cultural traditions that tie back to the Aztecs and Mayans of ancient days.

Legacy and Influence

Mesoamerican cultures were profoundly shaped by Aztec and Mayan contributions that are still felt today – such as Mesoamerican cuisine or international politics.

Here are key facts regarding their legacy and influence today:

Aztecs and Mayas left an indelible mark on artistic traditions across Mesoamerica and contemporary art, inspiring generations of artists, architects and designers through intricate sculptures and carvings that remain iconic today. Mesoamerican and contemporary artwork incorporate their symbolism while contemporary pieces continue to draw upon them for inspiration.

  1. Both Aztecs and Mayas created complex calendrical systems and mathematical theories, such as long count calendar. Long Count Calendar was invented by Mayans; using their advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy they created numerical systems capable of tracking celestial phenomena using mathematical calendar concepts which still study today.
  2. Aztec and Mayan agricultural techniques continue to have an influence on modern farming systems today, particularly through Chinampas farming (an Aztec practice) and Terrace Farming (used by Mayans), both showing innovative techniques designed to maximize yield while managing resources sustainably. Their sustainable methods have also been studied extensively, with elements from them implemented into modern systems of farming.
  3. Aztecs and Mayas represent significant accomplishments of writing system history. Deciphering their hieroglyphics has yielded insights into their histories, cultures and religious practices as well as having profound effects on linguistics research in regard to ancient languages.
  4. Contemporary Mexican and Central American food culture draws heavily upon culinary traditions from Aztec and Mayan civilisations, particularly Aztec’s beans, maize, squash, chili peppers and cacao consumption which became staples for their civilizations and has since been integrated into regional cuisines around the region. Even today traditional cooking techniques such as nixtamalization remain widely practiced across these two regions.
  5. Rituals, Religious Practices and Spiritual Beliefs. The Aztec and Maya spiritual beliefs have left an indelible imprint upon religious and cultural practices across Mesoamerica; indigenous faiths continue to incorporate elements from Aztec cosmology and mythology while ancient practices reflect in artistic forms like festivals.
  6. Tourists from around the globe flock to Aztec, Maya and archaeological sites around the globe. Tourists visit to witness impressive temples, pyramids and archaeological finds that show us some of the achievements made by Aztec and Maya civilizations; cultural heritages of both sides are preserved through tourism promotion and preservation.

Aztecs and Mayas left behind an immense legacy which can still be felt today across many fields, art, architecture, mathematics as well as agriculture, spirituality, language and religion are just a few examples of where their cultural contributions continue to influence and broaden our understanding.


If we look at an Maya as well as the Aztec Inca comparison, they are alike in a variety of ways. As they all have the history of building pyramids. All were polytheists and worshiped God. However, if we consider those of the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas differences, they are distinct in their religious and political beliefs. They all have their own achievements in history, too. The major distinction between the Aztecs and Maya as well as Incas was that Aztecs are the only Mesoamerican civilization which lived in a valley in Mexico between 1300 and 1521. Maya were mostly settled in their home on the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America. The Inca was founded during the twelve century. century, and comprised an empire located in the Andes mountain range in South America.