Daily Life of the Aztecs, 2nd Edition

by Davíd Carrasco and Scott Sessions


The Aztecs were an amazingly advanced culture, creating beautiful art and architecture, a calendar, and a rich mythology. They were also a culture that practiced ritual human sacrifice to rejuvenate their plants and ensure the continued cycles of the stars, the moon, and the sun. How does one reconcile these seemingly disparate forces?

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Cover image for Daily Life of the Aztecs

July 2011


Pages 288
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/Culture

Examine the fascinating details of the daily lives of the ancient Aztecs through this innovative study of their social history, culture, and continuing influence, written from the perspective of the history of religions.

Utilizing insights from the discipline known as the history of religions, as well as new discoveries in archaeology, pictorial manuscripts, and ritual practices, Daily Life of the Aztecs, Second Edition weaves together a narrative describing life from the bottom of the Aztec social pyramid to its top. This new and surprising interpretation of the Aztecs puts a human face on an ancient people who created beautiful art and architecture, wrote beautiful poetry, and loved their children profoundly, while also making war and human sacrifice fundamental parts of their world.

The book describes the interaction between the material and the imaginative worlds of the Aztecs, offering insights into their communities, games, education, foodways, and arts, as well as the sacrificial rituals they performed. The authors also detail the evolution of the Aztec state and explores the continuity and changes in Aztec symbols, myths, and ritual practices into the present day.


  • Images and interpretation of the recently discovered Aztec Codex "Mapa de Cuauhtinchan Codex" from 1542 and from new excavations in Mexico
  • Aztec poems and riddles
  • An updated glossary


  • Offers the clearest and most insightful description available of daily life in the most powerful pre-Hispanic, Native American empire
  • Contains new information about the indigenous backgrounds of all the Americas, but especially Mexican and other Latino immigrants who are remaking the United States
  • Addresses the profound puzzle of humans simultaneously acting in both tender and violent ways towards each other
Series Description

Daily Life

What was life really like for ordinary people in other cultures throughout history? How did they raise their children? What did they do for fun? From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, and from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the indispensable hands-on volumes of this award-winning series. A truly interdisciplinary resource, the Daily Life series covers arts; religion; food; literature; language; romance; rites of passage and coming of age; marriage customs; social and government structure; sickness and cures; warfare; sports and games; holidays; festivals; and more. With direct ties to the curriculum and supported by the most current research, these authoritative volumes are organized in an accessible narrative chapter format, and supplemented with photos, maps, and other ready-reference materials, Daily Life volumes are ideal sources for general readers and students of world history, United States history, social studies, anthropology, religion, literature, arts, and more.

Each volume provides:
• An exploration of complex eras in history on a level accessible to students and general readers
• Authoritative coverage stemming from the most current scholarship and recent discoveries
• A focus on social rather than political history in key curricular areas, providing an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of daily life
• Interactive, exciting details such as recipes, sheet music, rules for games, song lyrics, and more
Author Info

Davíd Carrasco is a Mexican-American historian of religions whose work on Aztec cosmology, cities, and ritual has forged new directions in the study of Mesoamerican cultures. He is the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures: The Civilizations of Mexico and Central America and the recipient of the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle (the highest recognition Mexico gives to a foreign national) for his contributions to new knowledge about Mexican culture.

Scott Sessions is managing editor of the African-American Religion Documentary History Project and visiting lecturer in the religion department at Amherst College, Amherst, MA. He was development editor for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures: The Civilizations of Mexico and Central America and is coeditor of Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage: From Teotihuacan to the Aztecs and Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest: An Interpretive Journey through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2.



"These comprehensive works combine accessibility with impeccable research and scholarship. Aztecs has been updated from its first edition (Greenwood, 1998) with a cleaner design and recent research."School Library Journal

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