This Is What The Ancient Aztecs Thought The World Looked Like

It's tough to try and get an entire society's beliefs nailed down. Even now, saying "modern-day Americans believe that the Earth is round" isn't an accurate blanket statement. Somehow.

So it gets even trickier, as you might imagine, putting your finger on the pulse of an ancient culture's worldview, especially when that culture is comprised of dozens of groups of people described by a single umbrella label, like the Aztecs. The word "Aztec" can be a little bit deceiving in and of itself — more than an ethnicity, it has come to describe any group of indigenous Mexicans from before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Much of what is known today about their dominant philosophies comes pre-painted in broad strokes, and originates in 400 year old accounts and archaeological speculation.

Still, experts know that a decent number of them thought that the world was made out of the still-living torn up carcass of a bloodthirsty crocodile fish monster. 

Not az technically accurate as it could be

The story, as recounted by Aztec History, goes something like this. When the world was all ocean, the gods were having a tough time nailing down creation. Everything that they made fell into the water, where it was devoured by a great sea creature, Cipactli. Cipactli (also sometimes referred to as Tlaltecuhtli) was a "consuming monster" with "a jaw at every point." That's a lot of mouths to feed.

Fed up with watching their hard work wind up as fish food, the gods attacked Cipactli. In the ensuing fight, the beast was ripped into pieces. Her upper half became the heavens, her lower half the earth, and her tail broke through to the underworld. In essence, the world was thought to be composed of a number of mythical monster chunks, floating in the endless ocean, with the Aztec empire sitting dead center. An eons-long habit of eating everything in sight is hard to break, though, and Cipactli demanded blood sacrifices to sate her appetite. Pretty rad world, right?