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The Aztecs

Aztecs culture, origins, rituals and demise
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  The Aztecs 1The AztecsPrior to the year 1492, there was very scarce contact with the Eastern and westernhemisphere. The expedition and discovery made my Christopher Colm!s mar s the !e#innin# in history o$ a series o$ continos contacts !etween those two worlds. %t&simportant to remem!er that !e$ore this milestone, lar#e civilizations emer#ed in the Americas !etween '(( and 14)( C.E .  The *ayans rose and or#anized in the +n#les o$ Central Americaand the catan Peninsla, the %nca in -oth America and the Aztecs, one o$ the lar#est,esta!lished their rei#n in *esoamerica. The story !ehind the esta!lishment o$ the Aztecnation !e#an with the lmecs in /(( 0.C.E. mainly sitated in central *exico. %n the same period, in the 1( th  centry and near what is now *exico City, too place the $ondin# o$ theToltecs, a very power$l nation that called Tla as their capital. They remained in control $or many years ntil their civilization $ell and the end o$ the 12 th  centry. At the same time, a new ahatlspea in# #rop started #rowin#, called the *exica and later nown as the Aztecs.0e$ore reachin# *esoamerica, they were only a tri!e o$ hnters and #atherers on the orthern*exican platea. The le#end says that they arrived $orm and island called Aztlan, whichtranslated to 3hite Place or Place o$ erons. %t has !een theorized that their movementtowards the soth cased the collapse o$ the Toltec civilization 5Prescott, 2((67. A$ter the rise o$ the Aztecs, whose name meant 8the place o$ the seven le#endarycaves, led !y their chie$ Tenoch they mi#rated to a land in :a e Texococo and $nded thecity o$ Tenochtitlan, now modern *exico City. 0y openin# their way thro#h con;ests andtri!tes o$ near!y land, they #reatly expanded their empire and !y the 1) th  centry their rei#nwent almost $rom coast to coast. The city o$ Teotihacan was the lar#est pre Colm!ian cityin the Americas and it was even lar#er tan any Eropean city o$ that period, even <ome. Theyen$orced in$lence and economic control thro#hot *esoamerica, even in the *ayan re#ion.  The Aztecs 2There was a !elie$ that it was $onded !y the Toltecs, !t that theory is nowadays discarded !ecase the Toltec civilization $lorished centries a$ter the $ondin# o$ Teotihacan.Archaeolo#ists speclate that the city poplation rose a$ter the erption o$ the =itle volcano,who $orced a mass emi#ration $rom the central valley to the city 5Prescott, 2((675Encyclopaedia 0ritannica, 2(167.3hen the Aztecs $irst settled, the land was ndesira!le and di$$iclt, mainly compresoo$ marshy soil with limited resorces. They started !ildin# lo# ra$ts and covered them inmd and seeds, so in the $tre it will trans$orm in solid land $or their homes. They alsodeveloped canals !ehind o$ their hoses, to se them with their canoes as a transportationnetwor . The o!stacles weren&t only !ecase o$ the soil, !t also cased !y tensions with thenei#h!orin# people on the mainland, who despised them. A$ter their a#ricltral pro#ress withchinampas, their empire expanded and started showin# p specialized cra$tsmen and la!orers.The !ildin#s were secred $rom s!mer#in# in the swamp land !y impalin# lar#e woodensta es in the #rond as $ondations. 0t, even with the se o$ a stone called Tezontli, o$ten thelar#e palaces and temples wold start sin in# !elow the #rond. %n the year 16>' theyselected an emperor o$ royal linea#e, in order to rise to the same level o$ their nei#h!ors and#ain their respect. The rler called himsel$ Acamapichtl and was related to the last rlers o$ Clhacan, his linea#e even extendin# !ac ntil ?etzalcoatl, rler o$ the Toltec civilization.%t was this coronation o$ a rler that made them claim their herita#e $orm the Toltecs. Than sto the #idance o$ their leaders, they increased their military power. This was also than s tothe new alliances $ormed with their power$l nei#h!ors the Texcoco and Tac!a, who called itthe Triple Alliance. 0y the end o$ their rlin# in 1)2( they had incorporated 6/ tri!tary provinces that had to ma e payments to the empire. The tri!es in the !order o$ the empirewho remained independent were the $irst !ein# con;ered !y Cortez 5@rancis, 2(('7.  The Aztecs 6The Aztecs were nown $or their complex system o$ a#ricltre !ased on irri#ation,called chinampas.  Archaeolo#ists estimated that 1 hectare o$ chinampas cold $eed p to 2(individals, !ene$ittin# the #rowth o$ the commnity. These chinampa !eds at the !e#innin#were sed to #row their $ood, !t with time they served the prpose o$ also increasin# the sizeo$ the island. They were very e$$icient and sed to provide p to seven crops a year. TheAztecs sed many methods o$ a#ricltre, !e#innin# with their earliest and most !asicrain$all cltivation. A$terwards they implemented terraces in hills or areas not sa!le $or normal $armin# methods. Also, !y sin# terraces the increased soil depth and delayed soil&serosion. There were three types o$ terracin#B the $irst were hill slope contor terraces whowere steeper. The second type was semi terraces, creatin# more #entle slopes and with wallsmade o$ *a#ey plants and not stones. @inally, the third type was cross channel terraces,mainly sed in the hi#hlands. n the other hand, in the valleys the Aztecs sed irri#ation$armin# !y the creation o$ dams, who redirected the water $rom sprin#s to the $ields. 0y thismethod they had a consistent and sccess$l system o$ harvests that didn&t depended onclimatic chan#es or rain seasons. The Aztecs too the irri#ation systems sed !y other empiresand trans$ormed them into ela!orate canals, mch lon#er than previos systems. @or lar#er areas o$ $ields, they provided irri#ation !y divertin# a lar#e portion o$ the Cahtitlan <iver,$ashionin# a networ o$ intricate canals. @inally, $or the swampy areas o$ :a e =ochimilcothey also implemented chinampas, alternatin# layers o$ md ta en $rom the !ottom o$ the la ewith plants and ve#etation. These raised !eds cold expand p to 4( meters lon# and rose 1meter a!ove the water sr$ace. They were also separated !y canals, !t no $or irri#ation !t asa method o$ mo!ilization $or the $armers, !y canoe 5istory aven, n.d.7.Their empire consisted mainly o$ a hierarchical society, their elite !ein# the priests !ecase they had the nowled#e o$ interpretin# complex calendars and reli#ios ritals. At thetop also resided the military elite, who received tri!tes $rom the common people. The  The Aztecs 4no!ility were called  pipiltin  and ori#inally it wasn&t a hereditary stats, !t the sons o$ no!ility always had !etter access to !etter resorces and edcation. A$ter some years, theno!ility system !ecame hereditary and one was a no!le !y !irth, !y !ein# a priest or !yearnin# yor ran . They cold occpy positions in the #overnment, the army and in reli#ion.The no!ility had a spreme leader who was very revered and rled ntil the moment o$ hisdeath. e was called tlatoani , which means 8e that spea s. There was a lar#e #ap !etweenthe elite class and the lowest class, !ein# mainly a patriarchal society who only honored themothers o$ warriors or those who died in child!irth. The middle class was occpied only !ys illed cra$tsmen and merchants that $o#ht their way in. This second class was called macehualtin , and consisted mostly o$ peasants dedicated to a#ricltre and $ood prodction, !t some o$ them were dedicated to arts and cra$ts, which a #reat sorce o$ income $or thecity. @inally, in the lowest part o$ the ladder resided the ma+ority o$ the poplation, comprised !y the slaves sed in hoseholds. The slaves were called tlacotin  and wold enter slavery !ecase o$ de!ts, as a criminal pnishment or !ecase they war war prisoners. The di$$erence$rom other types o$ slavery is that !e$ore they cold have owned possessions and even other slaves, !t when they !ecame slaves everythin# passed to their prchaser. The only way $or aslave to #et his li!erty it was !y !yin# it or !y #ainin# $reedom !y marryin# to their masters.%$ a slave had per$ormed and otstandin# +o! drin# his master&s li$e, at his death they wold !ecome $ree, whether the rest o$ the slaves were passed on as inheritance. Travelin#merchants called  pochtecah  were a small, !t important class as they not only $acilitatedcommerce, !t also commnicated vital in$ormation across the empire and !eyond its !orders.They were o$ten employed as spies drin# military tactics 5@rancis, 2(('7 5aha Cltre,n.d.7.Aztecs live in a despotic state, with all the power and dominance in the military. Theonly way to clim! the ladder was to show valor in war, while the priests concentrated on
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