Difference Between Aztec and Mayan

Aztec vs Mayan

Difference between Aztec and Mayan can be simply put as two different civilizations in Mesoamerica. The Mayans came first to the modern-day Mexico. The Aztecs came into play after some time later. Mayan civilization is often associated with knowledge as they had a writing systems, astronomical knowledge, etc. However, Aztec civilization is always associated with wars as they were a group of people, who liked getting into fights very much. At the end of the days, Mayan civilization dissipated. It did not suffer complete wipeout like some other cultures. Aztec civilization had to suffer the Spanish conquering. They are both highly interesting and valuable civilizations to study.

More about Aztecs

Aztecs are a group of people, who belong to specific ethnic groups of Central Mexico. Especially, Aztecs were groups of people who used to speak Nahuatl language and dominated a big part of Mesoamerica between 14th to 16th centuries. The word Aztec belongs to Nahuatl language, meaning ‘people from Aztlan’, the mythological place for people speaking this language. Mexican people of Tenochtitlan, the place where Mexico City is currently located, are also called Aztecs. Mexican Valley has become the center of Aztec Civilization since the 13th century. It is the same place where the capital for Aztecs’ Triple Alliance was built at. This Triple Alliance made the tributary empire. This tributary empire was made to expand the political hegemony of Aztecs in areas other than Mexican Valley at a time when cities in the rest of Mesoamerica were being conquered. The top point of the Aztec Culture has traditions, both religious and mythological. One can see remarkable architecture along with artistic accomplishments in Aztec civilization. The archaeological remains which are found in Aztec allow gaining knowledge about their culture and history. Some of the popular remains have been found in excavations such as the Templo Mayor excavation in Mexico City.

Difference Between Aztec and Mayan

More about Mayans

Mayan civilization is believed to have started around 2600 B.C. Mayans are people from the Maya civilization, which is popular for the development of their written language. Other reasons for its popularity are the developments and achievements in architecture, astronomical and mathematical systems and in the field of art. Establishment of the civilization was during the Pre-Classic period. During the Classic period, most of the Maya cities had reached the high stage of development that they could reach. These developments continued until Spanish arrived. The interaction with other areas of the region and the way cultures of the Mesoamerican civilizations merged into each other results in Maya civilization sharing numerous features with these civilizations. Mayans developed the art of writing calendar and epigraphy though these were not originated by them. Influence of Mayans on other civilizations has been found in the shape of Mayans’ architecture and art developments. Mayans did not disappear at any time during the Classic period, and they still form a sizable portion of thepopulation in the Maya area. They still continue to have their beliefs and traditions that they still follow, even today.

Aztec vs Mayan

What is the difference between Aztec and Mayan?

Mayans and Aztecs have got numerous differences which are discussed here.

• Mayans were the first to come and settle in modern-day Mexico. Aztecs were later arrivals.

• People from both civilizations believed in sacrifice. Aztecs believed in sacrifice of human whereas Mayans believed in offering blood as a sacrifice.

• Mayans were a far better civilization as they had a different approach to scientific processes.

• Mayans were interested in the study of stars and they also made a calendar which is still comparable to the one in use today. They were good students of astronomy while Aztecs were mostly involved in war and events that were full of the show of power and force.

• Mayans were people who were much gentle and kind as compared to Aztecs who were proud of wars.

• Also, the ruling methods of these people were different as well. The Aztecs had only one supreme ruler who ruled them all while Mayans had rule divided into states which were ruled by a separate ruler.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Aztec pyramid via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Mayan temple by Daniel Schwen (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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