Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Developments credited to the Aztecs
1. Hot chocolate
3. A mandatory educational system
4. Antispasmodic medication
# The Aztecs and Mayans take credit for introducing chocolate to the world. In Mayan culture, chocolate was so important it was used as currency. The Aztecs use the cacao bean to make xocoatl (bitter water), similar to a brew prepared by the Mayans. This hot chocolate beverage was popular with the upper class and was concocted out of cacao beans, corn flour, water and chilies. Xocoatl would serve as the foundation for a number of other hot chocolate drinks. The Spanish would introduce sugar as a further improvement to this spicy drink.
# An herbal remedy used today to ease insomnia, epilepsy and high blood pressure dates back to the Aztec empire. The passion flower was used by the Aztecs as a medication to calms spasms and relax muscles. Some believe this was used during surgery.
# Time was measured by the Aztecs through a calendar wheel. The Aztecs actually used several calendars, but one of them used the current system of 365 days in a year. This calendar was known as the xiuhpohualli and it was broken up into several 18-day months, with 5 leftover days at the end of the year.
# The Spanish word for chewing gum, "chicle," traces its origins to the Mayan and Aztec cultures. The Mayans discovered a process to convert the thick milky liquid from the sapodilla tree into a hard chewing gum. That liquid was called chicle. When the conquerors arrived, Aztec prostitutes were chewing the gum on street corners. Chicle quickly fell out of favor when the Spanish destroyed the trade routes, but it would later be revived - some 350 years later.