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Large Scale Map of Aztec Empire

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2 Large Scale Map of Aztec Empire

3 Small Scale Map of Tenochtitlan
Note the three causeways leading from Tenochtitlan to the mainland Valley of Mexico.

4 Class Structure 5 main social classes
Aztec status was not fixed (permanent) A commoner could move up by performing brave deeds or by studying to become a priest. A noble could fall from rank if he failed to live up to his responsibilities.

5 The Ruler The Aztec ruler, was considered semi-divine. Called tlatoami or “he who speaks”. The emperor maintained the empire and decided when to wage war. Aztec Ruler Montezuma II ( )

6 Each new ruler was expected to acquire new possessions of his own.
The position of ruler was not hereditary. When an emperor died, his son did not automatically become ruler, instead a group of advisors chose the new ruler from the emperor’s family. Each new ruler was expected to acquire new possessions of his own. The Meeting of Montezuma and Cortez

7 Headdress of Aztec Ruler Montezuma II

8 Government Officials, Priests, and Military Leaders
The emperor was supported by this class of peoples. Officials in Tenochtitlan counseled the emperor, worked as judges, and governed the city’s four districts. Other nobles throughout the empire ruled cities, collected tribute, or erected buildings and roads. The emperor appointed government officials for life. Noble offices were earned.

9 Priests Priests conducted all religious rites and served individual gods. Some priests ran the schools, others studied the skies and made predications about the future. Generally only nobles can become priests, but sometimes an Aztec from a lower class rose. Girls could also become priestesses.

10 Aztec Priest Conducting a Human Sacrifice

11 Military Leaders Commanded groups of soldiers and took part in war councils. All Aztec men were trained to be soldiers, and a common solider could become a leader by capturing enemies in battle.

12 Commoners This broad class of commoners included several smaller classes: Professional Traders- Pochteca- led caravans to distant lands to acquire exotic goods. Had their own god and lived in a separate section of Tenochtitlan. Paid taxes in rare goods. Membership was based on heredity. Craftspeople and artisans- potters, jewelers, and painters Farmers, Fishers, Laborers, and Servants-instead of owning land, they were loaned plots of land for homes and farms by their calpulli or ward. All commoners paid tribute to the nobility in the form of crops, labor, and goods.

13 Peasants About 30% of the Aztec people.
Unlike slaves, people in this class were free, but they were considered inferior to commoners. Hired out services to nobles.

14 Slaves Bottom of Aztec society.
Prisoners of war, lawbreakers, or debtors might be forced into slavery. Aztec slaves had a number of rights-they could own property, goods, and even other slaves. Slaves did not pass on their status on to their children, who were born free.

15 Marriage Marriage marked an Aztec child’s entry into adulthood. Men-20, Women-16. Marriages were arranged by the families of the bride and groom. The brides family accepted dowry- a gift of money or goods. But it could be presented to a man or woman.

16 Marriage Wedding festivities began at the brides house. There they would enjoy a banquet with presents. That evening, the guests marched to the groom’s home for the ceremony. To symbolize the bond or marriage, during the ceremony, the matchmaker tied the groom’s cloak to the bride’s blouse.

17 Marriage The Aztec’s permitted men to practice polygamy- or to marry more than one wife. However; only one is considered the “primary” wife. Divorce was practiced (women if they neglected her duties or did not bear children, and men if he beat her or failed to support her), and women were encouraged remarry.

18 Aztec Food The Aztec diet centered on maize.
It was used many ways from tortillas to tamales and porridge.

19 Aztec Food Most families only ate two meals per day: one in the morning and one at mid-day (usually a bigger meal).

20 Food Aztec farmers grew a variety of crops such as: red peppers, tomatoes, sage, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, and avocados.

21 Aztec Food Meat was eaten on special occasions for commoners: mostly turkey’s or dog meat. 15th century Aztec drawing of a wild turkey

22 Aztec Food Central/South American Turkey Below
North American Turkey Above

23 Aztec Food The wealthy ate quite differently: cocoa with their morning meal, and pineapples, oysters, and crabs at their banquets. They also ate winged ants and a lizard like creature called an axolotl- a prized delicacy. A Mexican axolotl, or “walking fish”. Winged Ant

24 Typical Interior of Aztec Commoners Home

25 Religious Practices Religion was central to Aztec life and society.
They believed humans needed the gods to survive.

26 Religious Practices Some of the Aztec gods were adopted from Mesoamerica. Tlaloc- the Mayan rain god. Quetzalcoatl- Toltec feathered serpent god

27 Religious Practices But, the Aztecs’ chief god was Huitzilopochtli: the sun god. In fact, the Aztecs called themselves the “people of the sun.”

28 Religious Practices The Aztecs saw the sun as a warrior who fought each night against the forces of darkness. The way to keep the sun strong was to offer him nourishment in the form of blood.

29 Aztec Sun Stone

30 Religious Practices The richest form of sacrifice was blood of humans. Blood of strong warriors captured in battle was the best. Several thousands of people were sacrificed each year to the gods.

31 Family Life Men had a higher status than women in Aztec society.
Within the family the father was the master of the house.

32 Family Life Aztec women however, had their own rights and responsibilities. Married women could own property and sell goods.

33 Family Life One of a woman’s most important jobs was to bear and care for children. The Aztec’s believed that the purpose of marriage was to bring children into the world. A woman’s role of giving birth was honored just as much as a man’s role in fighting wars.

34 Aztec Peasant Farmer’s House
Family Life Children were trained at a young age to take responsibilities. Education was at home until age 10. Aztec Peasant Farmer’s House

35 Schooling At age 10, boys could go to 3 types of schools
1. Telpochcalli- local schools for commoners taught: warfare, trade skills, history, and religion. 2. Calmecac- school for children of nobility (girls could also attend)- taught: calendar, religion, songs, poetry, history, speech, and laws. 3. Cuicalli or military school: trained in the art of war.

36 Schooling

37 Markets Markets were an important part of the Aztec community. Each city in the empire had its own market, usually located in the square in front of the town’s temple. Instead of using money, Aztecs used a barter system, trading one kind of good for another.

38 Markets The pochteca (special group of commoners) had a special place in the markets, since the brought exotic goods from faraway places. They provided the raw materials that were unavailable around Tenochtitlan.

39 Markets Guards would watch over the market. Anyone suspected of not acting honestly would wait to have their case heard at a court in the market.

40 The market also served a social purpose
The market also served a social purpose. People came there to meet friends, gossip, and hear the news of the day.

41 Recreation While work, warfare, and rituals were all important to the Aztecs, they also had time for recreation. They enjoyed music and dancing, and nobles liked to go on hunts.

42 Recreation A popular board game they played was patolli- a game played on a cross shaped board divided into 52 squares. The board symbolized the 260- day calendar, which the Aztecs shared with the Maya.

43 Recreation All social classes played patolli, but its likely that only members of nobility played the ball game called tlachtli.

44 Tlachtli Statues in Recreation of a Game

45 Recreation Similar to the Mayan ball games pok-a-tok, tlachtli was played on a narrow court I shaped court surrounded by high walls, with two small rings on each side.

46 Recreation Hundred of spectators gathered to watch each game- often risking clothes, feathers, and gold by betting on which team would win. Some people lost all their wealth in such bets and had to sell themselves into slavery.

47 Recreation Tlachtli had religious meaning as well. The Aztecs believed that the court represented the world and the ball represented a heavenly body.

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