The Aztecs Rise to Power

The Aztecs Rise to Power
Original Materials from TCI
The Aztec’s Rise to Power
Aztec Origins
• Origins can be traced to Aztlan island.
• Entered Valley of Mexico in 1200’s the for
unknown reasons.
• Considered vulgar by neighboring city states.
• Served as mercenaries to nearby city-states.
• Eventually fled to marshes of Lake Texcoco
after Coxcox declared war on them for
sacrificing their daughter.
Eagle and Cactus
• They are symbols of a divine prophecy.
• After building Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs
destroyed most records of their past and
created more favorable history.
• Priests taught prophetic version of history:
that the Aztecs were nomads who build
Tenochtitlan on a spot designated by the gods.
Life in a Hostile Environment
• Used chinampas, “floating gardens” to
produce their food supply.
• Created canals to improve trade and
• Discovered culinary delights in lake products,
such as algae and ducks.
Aztec Religious and Social
Aztec Religion
• Felt that life was uncertain and everyone was
a the mercy of nature.
• Attempted to placate gods w/sacrifice
• Waited for return of Quetzalcoatl at end of
calendar cycle (A.D. 1519).
Royal Family
• Emperors chosen from royal family based on
• Royal wives were greatly respected.
• All members were expected to be dignified
and brave.
• Included priests, military, officers, government
• Nobility not inherited; earned on battlefields
or in pursuit of priesthood.
• Held special privileges: fine clothes, beautiful
homes, jewels, servants
• Provided Tenochtitlan with imported goods
(jade, quetzal feathers)
• Traveled great distances (into Central America)
to negotiate deals.
• Included farmers, laborers, craftsmen,
servants, and vendors
• Lived in wards called calpullis (barrios).
• Worked in fields or estates of the wealthy
• Had freedom but, were considered inferior to
• Had some legal rights; there was little stigma
attached to slavery.
• People could sell themselves into slavery to
pay off debts or crimes.
The Splendor of Tenochtitlan
The Floating City
• Three causeways joined Tenochtitlan to the
shores of Lake Texcoco.
• Canals served as “roads” for canoes carrying
people and goods.
• City contained 80,000-250,000 people.
• Clean: garbage barges, daily sweepers, daily
Bustling Markets
• At great market 60,000 people gathered daily.
• Bartered for food (corn, armadillos) straw
mats, cloth (cotton), and luxury items
• Cacao beans sometimes used as currency.
Architectural Wonders
• Double pyramid dedicated to Huizilopochtli
and Tlaloc
• Tzompantli held thousands of human skulls.
• Residences of nobles were very elaborate.
Assessment & Reflection

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