Aztecs Book Report

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Aztecs


AZTECS
The Aztecs came from Azatlan which is the mythical place of origin(Aztecs of Lost
Civilization). Huizilopochtli, the god of war, told the Aztecs to leave Azatlan and wander
until they saw an eagle perched on a cactus growing out of a rock and eating a snake(Los
Aztecas). The Aztecs traveled many years to find the legend and finally found it while at
Lake Texcoco. Lake Texcoco was ruled by the Toltecs between the 10th and 11th
centuries(Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia). Since many other tribes also migrated to Lake
Texcoco at the same time, the Aztecs were pushed out to the westside of the lake to a
swampy area. The only piece of dry land they had was a little island surrounded by
marshes. Over a long period of time they built their empire with chinapas. Chinapas were
formed by piling up mud from the lake bottom to make little islands(Aztec Empire History).
Tenochtitlan (currently Mexico City), which means "Place of the Cactus", became the
capital in 1325 and soon there came many islands in which bridges were built to connect
the mainland (Los Aztecas). They also dug canals and constructed aqueducts. There were
many religious structures, and they built temples and pyramids. By 1502 the Aztec Empire
expanded from Guatemala to San Luis Potosi which is in Central and Southern Mexico and
extended 800 miles along a northwest-southeast axis. The Aztecs conquered many cities and
all became part of the empire which was wedged between high mountains and surrounded by
lakes(Aztecs of Lost Civilization/ Azetc Empire History).

The three social classes of the Aztecs were slave, commoner, and nobility. The slaves
(lowest class) were basically servants, although they could buy there way to freedom or if
they escaped from their masters and reached the royal palace without being caught they
would earn their way to freedom. There were two kinds of commoners (middle class). The
maceualtin were given a lifetime ownership of a plot of land in which they would build
their house on. The tlalmaitl were tenant farmers. The nobility (highest class) were
usually rulers, chiefs, or nobles(Aztecs/ Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia). The Aztecs
typical home was on a log raft covered with mud which had plants on it that stabled the
raft with its roots. The home usually had it's back to a canal with a canoe tied at the
door so they could have efficient transportation(Aztec Empire History).

At the peak of the Aztec market there were 60,000 visitors daily. Goods were brought to
the Aztecs from tribute agreements with conquered territories and most goods were exported
from the empire to Central America(Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia).

The principle Aztec food was a thin cornmeal pancake called a tlaxacalli, or tortilla.
They used the tlaxacallis to scoop up their food or to wrap their food up in it which is
now referred to as a taco. The meat that they hunted were deer, rabbits, ducks, and geese.
The meat that they raised were turkeys, rabbits, and dogs(Aztec Empire History). They also
liked to eat corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers, beans, jicama, prickly pear cactus, and
sweet potatoes. Their favorite drink was chocolate, but it was expensive since the cacao
bean was used as a form of money(Aztecs).

There was a great temple called Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc which was on the plaza of
Teotihuacan. The temple was surrounded by a wall that was decorated with carved serpents.
Ceremonies, public events, and festivals , which were all important in Aztec life, were
held at the temple(Aztecs). One celebration that happened every 52 years was the Binding
up of the Years. People would let there hearth fire go out and then re-light them with the
new fire of the celebration and feast(Aztec Empire History).

Religion was extremely important to the Aztec life. They had hundreds of gods. There were
religious ceremonies daily in which acts of sacrifice to the gods were taken. It was a
great honor to be sacrificed to the gods(Los Aztecas). A sacrifice was when a person
reached an alter and was stretched across a convex stone. Then a priest, with a sharp
knife, would cut open the victims chest and tear out his heart. The heart then would be
placed in a bowl called a chacmool. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people were sacrificed a
year(Aztecs).

The language of the Aztecs was called Nahuatl. The language is a mix of Indian languages
from the Pimas, Comanches, and the Shoshones(Aztec Empire History). The Aztecs used
pictographic writings that were recorded on paper or animal hides. Some of these writings,
called codices, still exist today. Their calendar was 365 days and their were five
"hollow" days in which was thought of as very bad luck(Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia).

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