Tenochtitlan was the greatest city of the Aztecs. Tenochtitlan was built on an island in lake Texcoco by early settlers. They built it on this island because the lake protected them from attacks from the main land. Tlaltelolco was a twin village and was on an island to the north. They built a bridge between them but soon after that they became rivals. After a short battle, Tenochtitlan defeated and absorbed tlaltelolco. People needed more land as the the villages became cities so they dug mud from the lake bottom and piled it into mounds. The two cities became criss-crossed by canals. The canals became major streets of the city. soon after that, three large earthen causeways linked the city to the main land. These causeways became entrances to the city. The causeways joined at the great plaza in the middle of the city. The city of Tenochtitlan had four major units and in these four units there was twenty sections. Each clan had its own section of the city that contained the houses and gardens of that clan. Clans also had their own temple and school.The great plaza was 900 square feet and was in the middle of the city. It held 60 buildings. The double temple and the pyramid was the most impressive structure of the plaza. These structures belonged to the gods Toltec and Huitzilopachtli and were two hundred feet tall.Four other temples and the ball court was in the plaza. Other building consisted of the home of the priest, the house of the military unit, and the palace of Montezuma.
Cortez and The Spanish
They first arrived in November of 1519. Hernado Cortes lead the Spanish invaders. Soon after the invasion Cotes and his men defeated the Aztecs and Tenochtitlan became a Spanish city. The city continued to change after the Spanish conquest. In the 1600's they drained the lake and now Mexico's capital, Mexico city lies on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. The Mexican's president palace is on the location that was once the palace of Montezuma.
Warfare was very important in the Aztec life. Every man participated in fighting and the Aztecs believed that it was a religious duty to be a warrior. At the age thirteen boys attend school called Telpuchalli.At this school they learn how to use weapons and the basics of warfare. They will also follow an experienced warrior into battle. It was important for the warriors to take captives. The Aztecs honored the men who took many captives. the men who were successful received social rank, land, and important offices.Aztec warriors used many weapons. The most important weapon was the Macuahuit. this weapon was a sword edged with sharp obsidian glass. they also used bows, arrows, javelins, clubs, and slings. For protection they carried shields and wore padded cotton armor. They decorated their shields with paint and feathers. the also wore brightly colored headdresses and they didn't have uniforms. Each warrior dressed how they wanted to . They had groups of warriors. The main groups were the eagle group, the jaguar group, and the arrow group. Each warrior had there group name on their shield. Aztec battles didn't last long and the losing tribe had to give the winning tribe gold, jewels, crops, and other valuable items.
The Aztecs used pointed sticks to plant their crops. One person would dig a hole and another person would put the seeds in the hoe and cover it with soil. The Aztecs never invented an plow to plant their crops. The Aztecs also used the slash and burn method. They chopped down the forest and left the trees and brush in the sun to dry. After they were dry the farmers would burned the areas to clear them and the ache would become fertilizer farmers ten planted new crops in the clearing. The most interesting development of the Aztecs was the Chinampas. They were small islands in lake and swamp areas. Farmers mad e them by digging the mud at the bottom of lake and piling it into mounds. After those mounds were built they would grow crops on them. Farmers created many canals so that plenty of water could get to their crops. The Aztecs main crop was corn, also called maize. they also grew avocados, a variety of beans, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.Different crops came from the lowlands. The main crops from the lowland include cotton, papayas, rubber, and cocoa beans. After the harvest season they would bring them to the market nearest to their city. The market was located in the middle of each town. The Aztecs didn't use money, instead they traded items. The markets contained much more than just food. They also had weapons, animals, house hold goods, rare colorful feathers, and slaves.
They only sacrificed those who were captured in war. They made sure that their enemy was alive so they could enjoy the sacrifice. They had a priest dressed in tassels with an idol in his hands. The idols eyes were made of green glass and the teeth were made of corn. The priest would run down the stairs of the temple as fast as he could.He ran to the great stone that was located in the middle of the court. This stone was called Quauxicalli, which meant stone of the eagle. He would then run down another set of stairs and he would meet the people who were being sacrificed. He left up the stairs and those who were being sacrificed followed him. The main way they sacrificed was by cutting their stomach open and pulling out the heart.Then the priest would push the person down the stairs with his foot. this process took six people. It took four people to hold down the arms and legs, one to hold the head, and one to cut and pull. They called these people Chachalmua. It was a very prestigious job and held in high esteem.
Religion was very important in the Aztec life. The Aztecs worshiped many gods, who all ruled one or more human activities or aspects of nature. There was many agricultural gods because the life was based heavily on farming. The Aztecs believed that the balance of nature and the destiny of people depended on the will of these gods. Huitzilopochtil's temple was the main pyramid and was the focus of fearsome sacrifices of prisoners captured by Aztec warriors. Victim's heads were hung as trophies on great rack. Tlaloc was the god of rain and fertility. The Aztecs believed that he was responsible for floods and droughts. They also believed that he had been made by other gods. Most Aztecs were afraid of him.
The ball game was very important to the Aztec empire and important for political and religious reasons. The ball was made out of hard rubber and weighed about nine pounds. The ball could also be called ulli and Because of its hard material armor was worn. The armor was worn on the chin, hips, thighs, hands, and cheeks. The armor was made out of deerskin. Even though they left the the game bleeding and bruised they would still through themselves into the ground. The objective of the game was to get the ball through the stone hoop which was very difficult because you could only hit it with knees and hips. The ball could hit the walls but not the ground, it had to stay in the air at all times.