Aztecs Culture

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How does Aztecs Civilization helped impact today's modern life?



The Aztec had a big civilization with about 15 million people that nearly filled up 500 cities. Hernan Cortes was the Spanish ruler who help start the Aztec empire and get it working as an civilization. The Aztec decides to expand their territory so they created The Aztec Tripe Alliance. Within the Alliance they conquered people to help them to expand. Religion was a big part of their culture because if they didnt follow the rules they would have go for a human sacrifices.


Roots of Aztecs Culture

Long before Mayan cities rose to the south, the city of Teotihuacan had emerged in the Valley of Mexico. The Valley of Mexico is a huge oval basin ringed by snowcapped volcanoes, located in the high plateau of central Mexico. From A.D. 100 to A.D. 750, Teotihuacan dominated a large area. The city was well planned, with wide roads, massive temples, and large apartment buildings.

Culture The Aztec civilization contained about 15 million people that lived in nearly 500 towns and cities. About 300,000 people lived in Tenochtitlan. In this famous city, the government controlled and were responsible to deal with taxes, punishment, famine, and market trading. Punishment in the city of Tenochtitlan was enforced for breaking any of the code of government laws. Offenders were enslaved into tedious work conditions for a specific amount of time. If the offense happened to be minor, the law-breaker was charged with a string of fees or fines. This type of governing system is only one of the many things that affected aspects of everyday life for the Aztecs.

Arrival of the Aztecs

In the late 1200, bands of nomadic people, the ancestors of the Aztecs, migrated into the Valley of Mexico from the north.According to the legend, the Aztecs were told to go find a eagle perched atop a cactus holding a snake in its beak. And when they finally saw the sign on a swampy island in Lake Texcoco. Once the Aztecs were settled, they shift from hunting to farming. Slowly they built the city of Tenochtitlan, on the site of present-day Mexico City. As the population grew the Aztecs had to find new ways to do more farming. So they built chinampas. Part of the arrival of the Aztecs come from Hernan Cortes which led the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. Which also refers to the conquest of Mexica/Aztec empire by Hernan Cortes from 1519-21. The Aztecs started as a group of American Indians speaking Nahuatl,a language of the Siouan family. They were descendants of the Asian people who arrived on the North American continent after crossing the Bering Strait during Earth’s last Ice Age and migrating south, following the mammoth herds. They came originally from the Northwest, from the arid cactus lands, but may have been in Mexico for several centuries before they became a powerful tribe. A similar language, Nahua, was also spoken by the Toltecs,who controlled most of Mexico between 750 AD and 1000 AD. The Aztecs which back then refer to themselves as Mexica. I have no joy, I have no gladness; The earth does not fill me.I have suffered sorrows in the world. The earth has only been lent to us.Tomorrow, or the day after, The giver of life will beckon us to his home.- Aztec poem

Conquering the Empire

By the 1400s, the Aztecs empire expanded thier territory; by using the Aztec Tripe Alliance. With the combination of the fierce conquests and shrewd alliances, they spread their rule across most of Mexico, from the Gulf of Mexico on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west. Their empire almost numbered in 30 million people. The Aztecs also had great wealth and power beacuse of tribute, a payment from conquered people, help them turn their capital into magnificent city. By 1519, The Aztec Empire stretched across Mexico from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It contained nearly 500 towns and was divided into 38 provinces. The people who lived in the Empire camed from many groups. Most of the people who lived in the Empire were not Aztecs, although they were subject to Aztec rule. The Aztecs were not interested in organizing the everyday lives of the towns and the cities they conquered. They only wanted three things from them. The first was that they worship the Aztec head god Huitzilopochtili, well as their own tribal gods. Secondly, each city had to send taxes, called tribute, to Tenochtitlan. Thrid requirement was that each city had to be loyal and obedient to the Aztecs, particularly by supplying soldiers in the time or war.


The Aztecs had a very complicated religions because partly it was due to the fact they inherit most of the religions from conquered people. But the base part of their religion had three true Gods:Huitzilopochtli ("hummingbird wizard," the native and chief god of the Tenochca, Huitzilopochtli was the war and sun god), Tezcatlipoca ("Smoking Mirror," chief god of the Aztecs in general), and Quetzalcoatl ("Sovereign Plumed Serpent," widely worshipped throughout Mesoamerica and the god of civilization, the priesthood, and learning). Below these three gods were four creating gods who were remote and aloof from the human world. Below these were an infinity of other gods, of which the most important were Tlaloc, the Rain God, Chalchihuitlicue, the god of growth, and Xipe, the "Flayed One," a god associated with spring. The Aztecs also believe in 13 heavens and 9 hells. One big thing they also believe in was human sacrifices.While human sacrifice was the most dramatic element of Aztec sacrifice, the most common form of sacrifice was voluntary blood-letting which occurred at every religious function. Such blood-letting was tied to rank: the higher one was in social or priestly rank, the more blood one had to sacrifice. The Aztec believed that the way they died was the way they in in afterlife. If a person died a normal death, his or her soulhad to pass through the nine levels of the underworld before reaching Mictlan, the realm of the death god. Warriors who died in childbirth, however, joined the sun god in the sky.


There was an urgency to all this sacrifice. The Aztec believed that the world was controlled by divine forces that were in constant conflict and opposition to one another. The universe was poised between conflicting forces of creation and destruction; human beings could, in part, influence this balance through the practice of sacrifice.The Aztecs strongly believed in the afterlife. It was the way the Aztecs died rather than the way they lived that determined whether they would go to the sun god or go to the dark and dismal underworld. If a person died a normal death, his or her soul would have to pass through the nine lives of the underworld before reaching Mictlan, the realm of the dead. A warrior who died in battle or a woman that died in childbirth would go straight to the sun god in the sky. The Aztecs believed in education. The children where educated from their birth. The fathers would educate the boys while the mothers would deal with the girls, showing them the way of an Aztec women. There were two main types of school, the so-called tepochcalli and the calm*cac. Boys and girls went to both, but were kept separate from each other. The tepochcalli was for the children of common families and there was one in each neighborhood. Here, children learned history, myths, religion and Aztec ceremonial songs. Boys received intensive military training and also learned about agriculture and the trades. Girls were educated to form a family, and were trained in the arts and trades that would ensure the welfare of their future homes.The calmecac was for the children of the nobility, and served to form new military and religious leaders.

Aztecs writing their caste system

The Aztecs were seperated into three main groups:

Slaves: The children of poor parents could be sold, usually for only a certain time period. Slaves could buy back their freedom.The slaves that escaped and reached the royal palace without being caught were given their freedom instantly.

Commoners: The most numerous social group was known as the macehualtin; these people were engaged in agriculture and the common trades. Although they worked the land in family units and were allowed to kept their produce, the land itself was collectively owned by the inhabitants of the neighborhood or calpulli. Commoners were given lifetime ownership of an area of land. The lowest group of commoners were not allowed to own property. They were tenant farmers, they just got to use the land and never be owners. The lower social orders were made up by peasants, who like the European serfs, were attached to the lands owned by the nobility and were obliged to cultivate them in exchange for part of the harvest.

Nobility: The nobilities were the people who were nobles by birth, priests, and those who earned their rank.The very highest social sphere was occupied by a minority of families known as the pipiltin. These people were members of the hereditary nobility and occupied the top positions in the government, the army and the priesthood. The nobles chose a supreme leader known as the tlatoani from within their own group; in Nahuatl this name means he that speaks. This leader was greatly revered and ruled until his death.In Aztec society, warriors, priests, and the nobility were considered to be among the most respected in the Aztecan social hierarchy Because of the Aztecs' emphasis on warfare, the warrior class was highly valued, and often warriors would volunteer for the most important Aztec sacrificial rituals.The long distance traders also enjoyed considerable privileges and often served the government as ambassadors and spies. The most outstanding artisans, physicians and truly wise teachers were also highly respected.

One of the gods of the Aztec

Gods And Goddess

Talocan Home of the Aztec gods and goddesses.

Coatlicue She represents the pain of life, has a serpent skirt (poverty), claws and heart necklace (pain of life).

Tezcatlipoca God of magic, war and death. Has missing foot which was eaten by the earth monster as he dragged the earth from the waters before man was created. He's called 'smoking mirror' or the dark side of life.

Xipe Totec God of spring and new life and the god of suffering. He wore a human skin. At his festival a prisoner was skinned alive and the skin was worn by priests to show new life bursting from the old.

Xochipilli Prince of flowers, god of dawn, dance and love. Shown as eternity.

Huehuetecti God of fire. Shown as a toothless old man.

Tloque Nahuaque Lord of everywhere, the one supreme force, both male and female.

Quetzalcoatl God of knowledge, creation, priesthood, and wind.

Chantico Goddess of the hearth.

Tlaloc God of rain. Recognized by his fangs and eye rings. Thought to be half human and half alligator.

Mictlantecuhtl God of the dead. Those who died of natural causes went to live with this god. On the way to him their skin was ripped off by a wind of knives; then they lived as skeletons.

Chalchiuhtlicue Goddess of the lakes and streams.

ChicomecoatlGoddess of maize.

Tezcatlipoca God of fate and creation.

Huitzilopochtli God of war, sun, and the nation. Shown holding a fire-breathing serpent and a shield.

End of the Aztecs

In the Aztec version of the final collapse of Mexico we find that not all the population fought the Spaniards. They moved only when led by the great nobles to whom they owed allegiance. Mostly they suffered passively, and acted bravely when called upon by the brilliantly feathered war leaders. Though decimated by the smallpox, the Aztecs continued to give battle with their Stone Age weapons against Spaniards clad in steel and armed with cannon. The young Cuauhtemoc was their last elected war leader. But finally he surrendered as the last buildings in the city of Cactus Rock were torn down. Later, when he made a brave effort to achieve freedom he was captured and strangled. But Cuauhtemoc became the national hero of modern Mexico; and his mother tongue, the ancient Nahuatl language, has become a language of poetry in Mexico.

The Great Temple

The Great Temple was the main religious buliding in Tenochtitlan. It was here that the Aztecs carried out their most terrible ceremonies of human sacrifice. During great festivals, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of prisoners lined up on steps. They shuffled slowly upward toward one of the great altars which stood on the top, in front of the shrines.

Bloody Sacrifices

When victims reached the altar, they were sezied by the priest and streched acrss the sacrificial stone. A priest with an obsidian knife slashed ope each chest and tore out the victim's heart. The heart was placed in a bowl or the chacmool. The heart was the food of the Aztec gods who kept the world and the sun alive. The Great Temple, a huge four-tiered pyramid, towerd over the city. It was built from huge blocks of stone, carried down from mountains, and was decorated with painting and carvings. Twin staircases led to summit, about 30 yards above the ground.

Holy Shrines

On the commanding heights of the Great Temple pyramid stood twin shrines, the left-hand one dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility, and the other to Huizilopochtli, or "Blue Hummingbird," god of the sun and war. These gods represented the Aztecs' two main concerns in life-rain, which was vital for good harvests, and war, which provided a steady stream of prisoners for sacrifice. The two shrines were decorated with richly carved wood and printings of grotesque creatures.

The Seven Great Temple

Each Aztec ruler wanted to bulid a bigger and more impressive Great Temple than his predecessor. Each new temple, which was built over the previous one, was more magnificent than the temple it replaced. Many of the temples have been found to contain chambers in which offerings were placed, usually stone figures, masks, human skulls, animal skeletons, and seashells.


The Aztec was an civilization that started was by Hernan Cortes. Hernan Cortes didn't really start the Aztecs they were already there, all he did was help create an organized empire. And got them doing things the way of the Europeans. The Aztec started to follow his ways because he showed them new ways of living. But before Cortes camed and conquered the Aztecs, the Aztecs migrated in the Valley of Mexico. They walked tell they found their legend were an eagle would be on top of a catus with a snake in its beak. When they found that the Aztec know they was home. The Aztec were very huge on religion so if anyone didn't treat the religion right they would be put up for an human sacrifices.


The Aztec civilization still impact in some way, but in Mexico they still celebrate the ways of the Aztecs. There are more than 90 million people in Mexico and they still live by the ancient ways of the Aztecs. Also the Aztecs help create things we use today like calendar, and their form of music, dance, and poetry. The Aztecs poems and legends were memorized for many generations just like the epic poems of the Greek Heroic Age.


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