How the Aztecs measured Time

Like the Mayans, the Aztecs had ample knowledge over the aspects of measuring time, based not only on the simple observation of the days and nights, but also on the movements during the equinoxes, solstices, the movements of Mars, Venus, the Moon, and the constellation of the Pleiades.

How the Days were divided

The day was divided in four segments

  1. Between midnight and sunrise, the period was reigned by Iquiza Tonatiuh.
  2. From Sunrise to noontime, the period was ruled by Nepantla Tonatiuh.
  3. From noontime to sunset, by Onaqui Tonatiuh.
  4. From sunset to midnight, by Youalnepantla.

These four parts were each one divided in two, dividing the day in eight segments of three hours each.  These last two sub-divisions were called Izteotl (meaning:here is god).

How the Month was Divided

The month was denominated as Meztli (moon) and each meztli or moon was divided in four periods of five days each; periods we could call weeks – though “week” corresponds to a timeline of seven days.

How the Year was divided

The Aztec year was made by eighteen months of twenty days each; 360 days in total, plus five additional nemontemi days (additional or “useless”) and a fourth of day added to the last nemontemi.  This last “week” was dedicated to activities like fasting and abstinence.

The Century

The following distribution made the Aztec Century that comes forth from the combination of both of their civil and their religious years.  The duration of the Aztec Century is of 52 years.


Chapters: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07
Previous | Next