Aztec Inventions and Achievements (A Few)

The ancient Aztecs had to be problem solvers and inventors to meet the needs of a growing empire.

One of the most amazing of the Aztec's inventions was how they dealt with the water needs of the great city of Tenochtitlan. Even though the city was built on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco, the salty lake water was not good for drinking. The Aztecs had to bring water to the city using aqueducts.
In addition water was distributed with clay pipes and public fountains. The rich may well have had running water in their homes.

Naturally, when we use water, we create waste water. So, the Aztecs also had to deal with the waste produced by the 100,000 or more residents of Tenochtitlan. This was accomplished by developing a sewage system that was quite effective. Solid waste was separated from liquid and allowed to sit for a few months. It was then used for fertilizer. Liquid was allowed to filter through gravel, soil, and the like and then reused. This system utilized the same basic principles that septic tank sewage systems use today.

Not all Aztec inventions were quite as vitally important as their water and sewage systems, but there are a few small inventions that many of us appreciate just about as much today. One of these is hot chocolate. The Aztecs were not the first to partake in chocolatey goodness, but they put an interesting twist on it. They had a hot chocolate recipe that included chocolate – made from cacao beans – corn flour, red chili peppers, and water. It was particularly popular among men of the upper classes in Aztec society. The Aztecs, along with other Native American groups, also popped corn. When the Spanish came to Mexico, they sent these foods back to Europe where they caught on quickly. The whole world enjoyed these treats ever since.