How Did the Aztecs Adapt to their Environment

How Did the Aztecs Adapt to their Environment?

The Aztecs adapted to their environment by building canoes to go hunting and fishing. They made medicines out of the various plants they discovered in the area & developed floating gardens to increase the amount of space available for food production. They founded dikes to keep water out of swampy areas, allowing land to be used for agriculture and construction. 

Thanks to the engineering prowess of their engineers, they were able to construct a gorgeous capital city on top of a marsh. They established a system of flourishing agriculture & free education that would allow them to train the engineers, builders, and traders required to accomplish this.

How Did The Aztecs Adapt To Their Island Environment?

The Aztecs adapted to their island environment in a variety of ways, including the development of floating gardens to allow agricultural cultivation on water surfaces, building canoes as a means of transportation and creating dikes to control water flow around their city.

Given their city was built on an island, it was safe from intruders yet to difficult to trade from. There was virtually little farmland and fresh water on the island, which was swampy. The Aztecs built canoes and water vehicles to get around the lakes and lagoons that surrounded their new territory.

In the humid environment, a profusion of vegetation developed, and the Aztecs discovered which plants were valuable as food sources. They discovered edible plants and gathered plants for medicinal purposes. To manage the flow of surrounding waterways for agriculture and safe construction, the Aztecs built crude but durable infrastructure such as dikes and retaining walls.

Chinampas, or floating gardens, were among the most distinctive of all Aztec adaptations. These gardens, like their terrestrial counterparts, were located on designated plots of land. Chinampas, on the other hand, served as floating islands, allowing Aztecs to cultivate crops on improvised farming fields on the water.

Instead of migrating to more desirable terrain, the Aztecs built their capital city exactly on top of a vast swampland. They did so under the guise of the gods, who told Aztec chiefs to live quietly on the plains where an eagle slept with a snake in its mouth. The Aztecs had no choice but to build in the swampy area where the envisioned eagle appeared to a chieftain. 

How Did The Aztecs Survive?

The Aztecs survived through agriculture and trade.

In central Mexico during the time, there were various types of farmers. Some of them may be classified as laborers, while others could be classified as specialists. Laborers came from a variety of classes where some served as farm laborers or even slaves while others were in charge of the communal farms.

 Specialists were in charge of determining which seeds were the best, how crop rotation should be implemented, and what would grow best on which types of land.

Long-distance commerce, marketplace trading, and tribute have all been mentioned in connection with the Aztec exchange. Professional traders known as ‘pocheteca’ carried out long-distance trade between the Aztec heartland and remote locations, and while not being part of the Aztec society’s hierarchy, they were regarded in rather highly. 

Market trade was well-developed, with regular marketplaces in most villages and big daily markets in the largest cities, as well as characteristics such as cash in the form of cocoa beans or cotton mantles. Tribute was a levy imposed on the commoners who were required to support their nobles and troops.

How Did The Aztecs Live Sustainably?

The Aztecs live sustainably by the usage of small and artificial islands known as chinampas, which they founded to accommodate the rising population. Due to the abundance of water and sunlight in the area, the Aztec chinampas covered over 12 square kilometers and were extremely productive.

The most evident benefit of this sustainable practice, which dates back to around 800 CE, is the efficient use of space. The Aztecs effectively created new lands in the lake, which was necessary to feed a city like Tenochtitlan that was established in the middle of the huge Lake Texcoco. 

Because their roots grew directly into the mud within the lake, plants stitched on chinampas were thus guaranteed a steady source of moisture. Despite the arid conditions of central Mexico, this beneficial and original innovation allowed for great crop yields.

Organic fertilizers, willow trees to limit erosion, and seed nurseries, or almacigos – were seeds were given time to germinate before being transplanted to the middle of the isle – were all these techniques were used by the Aztecs on these islands.

To avoid soil depletion, Chinamperos alternated the crops on these islets, allowing them to harvest two or three times a year. These scientific feats, both in terms of agriculture and terra-forming, contributed to the Aztec Empire’s huge population and astonished the Spanish conquistadors.

How Did The Aztecs Use Their Natural Resources?

The Aztecs did so by creating medicines from many plants found in the area. The island’s location provided the Aztecs with hundreds of rare plants that were widely used to cure many diseases such as fever, migraines, and allergies. 

Fortunately, Aztec herbal medicine got its well-deserved attention and got documented. The Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco was established after the fall of the Aztec Empire to provide a Catholic education to the “natives.” A herbal textbook was presented in the aim of impressing onto Spanish royalty.

The result, the “Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis,” was the first herbal and medical textbook published in the New World, and it was completed in 1552. It was originally composed in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, but was later translated into Latin by Aztec aristocrat Juan Badian. 

As mentioned in the book, plants were thought to be “hot” or “cold” by Aztecs, as they were thoughts by Europeans at the period, and could be used to rectify excess heat or cold in the body. 

Excessive cold in the body was associated with water retention, and cold/watery disorders like gout (coacihuiztli, which translates as “the stiffening of the snake”) were treated with a hot herb. Many of the hot herbs, like yauhtli (Tagetes lucida), are diuretics, meaning they remove excess water from the body. The spicy plant iztauhyatl (Artemisia Mexicana), whose leaves were ground in water and consumed, was frequently combined with yauhtli.


The Aztec kingdom had created and maintained what we would now call a sustainable materials management system, which is regarded as the most perfect technique for waste management, resource conservation, and environmental protection.

The Aztec empire did not endure the aggressive conquest of the Spaniards, despite having an excellent system of sustainability, and introduced the world to wise herbal medicinal practices. The nowadays Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of Mexico still practice medicine that is nearly entirely based on herbs, many of which were employed by their Aztec forefathers. The talents of Mexican healers, when combined with the Aztec writings, could help us learn about new plant-based medicine sources.