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Aztec Empire for Kids
Specialized Professions
 

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The Aztecs made every child - boys, girls, and slaves - go to school. There were different schools for different purposes, but everybody had to go. It was the law. Kids were taught proper behavior and a specialized profession. Teachers were highly respected. Being a teacher was a specialized profession. 

Most people in the Aztec empire ended up being  farmers, fisherman, and hunters. But some were trained to be soldiers, doctors, priests, merchants, traders, craftsmen, ball players, engineers, builders, and matchmakers. 

Soldiers were highly respected and highly trained. They were fierce fighters. They almost never lost. The Aztecs were nearly always at war. The Aztecs needed captives to feed their hungry gods and tribute (from the captured tribe) to increase their wealth. Some soldiers lived long enough to retire. Those who did retired in comfort and wealth. 

Traders had an easy time of it. Other tribes were afraid of the Aztecs. They did not try to hurt the traders in any way. The Aztecs almost always, well, pretty much always, got the best deal in any trade. Traders brought back cocoa beans, jaguar skins, precious metals, and gorgeous jewelry. They sold their goods to merchants in the city. 

Merchants also specialized. A merchant might sell only jewelry or only baskets. There were almost no robberies because Aztec punishment was swift and deadly. In the capital city, there were as many as 60,000 people in the marketplace buying and selling wares. No one used money. Goods were bartered and small differences in value were evened up using cocoa beans. 

Priests also specialized. All priests were religious leaders. Some were active in government. Some acted as teachers. Some created the  many records the Aztecs kept, written in hieroglyphics. Some conducted the many sacrifices needed to feed the hungry gods. 

Doctors were trained in the Aztec schools. They made about 1000 different medicines. They healed wounds and set broken bones and even offered dental care. 

Like all specialized professions, engineers and builders were highly respected. Trained in the Aztec schools, they were people who built the floating gardens, the temples, the pyramids, the plazas, the homes, and the palace. 

Aztec craftsmen were truly talented. Since all kids had to attend school, those who had a talent for art were pulled from the regular school and placed in the art school. They were taught how to use gold and silver and paints and clay in their art. Much of the Aztec art was colorful and religious. 

A matchmaker's job was to work with a young couple, who had decided to marry, until the couple had "tied the knot". This expression comes from the Aztec. The final action in an Aztec wedding ceremony was to tie two coats together, one worn by the bride and one by the groom. But matchmakers had other talents. They were the fortune tellers, the soothsayers. They studied omens and signs and made predictions.    

Athletics were highly respected, especially ballplayers. Some athletics were professional athletics. For the very best, this was a specialized profession. Professional ballplayer did not work in the fields or spent time hunting. Their job was practice shooting a rubber ball through a hanging hoop.


Aztec Ball Game & Players

Aztecs for Kids

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Written by Lin Donn
Clip Art Credit: Phillip Martin
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