The Aztecs were a Mexican tribe, one of the many that formed the tribal collective called Chichimec. The Aztecs are infamous for their violent warfare and inhuman rituals. Their sacrifices involving removal of live bodily organs, like a beating heart, to appease the gods have been very well explored. There is a flipside to their violent ways of expanding their lands. The Aztecs did not have much fertile land and it is the compulsion to try and stay alive, with food and water, that had lead them to violent means of usurping resources. On the positive side, there are some phenomenal Aztecs accomplishments which you may think as ordinary today but were giant leaps around five to eight centuries ago.
1. Invented Floating Gardens
Then known as chinampas, floating gardens were a way for the Aztecs to grow food and livestock because of the unavailability of fertile land. The Aztecs did not have much infertile land either that could be inhabited or be used by livestock. The Aztecs grew beans, corn and squash on floating gardens and also raised turkeys among other animals. These floating gardens were developed atop the Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. About 90 feet by 8 feet of land was staked out and was joined with reeds, branches and twigs supported by poles. These rectangular structures were then raised above the lake. Whether it was using human manure to fertilize the land or pruning the nearby and surrounding willow trees to facilitate direct sunlight, the Aztecs were certainly one innovative tribe.
2. Achieved Universal Education
There are countries in the world that have not managed to ensure universal education even today. Imagine a tribe accomplishing that almost a millennium back. The Aztecs made it mandatory for children to go to school, to get trained in specific trades or even domestic chores and military training was also made imperative for teenagers.
3. Developed An Early Version Of Soccer
There is evidence that Mayans played Ollama as well but it was the Aztecs that made the game more popular. Ollama is not exactly soccer or football as we know it today but it can be considered a distant primate of the game.
4. Furthered Herbalism
Herbalism existed before the Aztecs but they sure furthered the study and practice. The Aztecs had a codex, the Badianus Manuscript, which describes the ways you can use almost two hundred trees and plants to cure ailments.
5. Popularized Red Fabrics
Before the sixteenth century, the Europeans were not aware of the color red, certainly not in fabrics. They only got to know that from the Aztecs after the Spanish conquest. The Aztecs used to dye their fabrics red with the help of a plant extract referred to as madder red.