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The Aztecs

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Aztecs culture, origins, rituals and demise
  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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