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Presentation on theme: "THE MUSEUM OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS THE AZTECS J THE LARGEST AND MOST SUCCESSFUL EMPIRE IN MESOAMERICA Docents: Aliyah, Ashley, Eva, Joy, Malaika and Nahili."— Presentation transcript:


2 Themes  Traditional  Ritualistic  Communal  Innovative

3 Timeline  1111 -1250 CE- Migrate south to the Valley of Mexico in search of location to settle  1325 CE- Find the city of Tenochtitlan in the Valley of Mexico and settle  1427-1431 CE- Start to conquer other cities in Mexico  1431 CE- Form alliances with three other cities and becomes an empire  1519-1521 CE- Spaniards arrive in Mexico and conquer the Aztecs Ashley

4 Historical Overview The Aztecs controlled a large empire in Mesoamerica during the 1400’s -1500’s, and were American-Indian people. They built large, complex cities with infrastructure such as temples, and held religion as the central aspect of their lives. With religion, they held polytheistic beliefs which they dedicated much of their time to, and were a ritualistic people who practiced human sacrifices. Men were above woman, supporting the family as their main role, just as the nobles sat at the top of the hierarchy above the commoners, serfs, and at the bottom – slaves. Overall, the Aztecs were a traditional and communal society, with deep cultural and religious practices that governed their everyday lives. Malaika and Nahili

5 Geographical Overview The Aztecs dominated central Mexico before the Spanish conquistadores arrived. They mostly lived in the area of the Valley of Mexico and Northern Mexico. The Aztecs built the most successful and largest empire in Mesoamerican history. The largest city was the capital, Tenochtitlan, which was on an island in Lake Texcoco. Causeways (raised earthen roads) linked the city to the mainland. There was a nearby island to the north which held the city of Tlatelolco, a commercial center. Both islands laid within the borders of what is now Mexico City. The Aztecs were also surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, and in the middle of the valley was a large system of lakes. The Aztecs were subject to period flooding when Lake Texcoco rose with spring rains. They had a warm and mild climate and were rich in mineral, and they farmed intensively on steep slopes (Valley of Mexico). Aliyah and Joy

6 Latin American Studies, Aztec Expansionism, N.d.,, May 8, 2013 Map of Aztec Empire Aliyah and Joy

7 Information Panel: Beliefs The Aztec belief system was greatly influenced by their creation story as seen through their worldview, sacrifices to their Gods, and their social hierarchy. They believed that for their world to have been created, the Gods had to suffer through many pains and hardships, so in turn for their ordeals and difficulty, they held rituals as a form of thanks. Priests were very ritualistic as they performed animal, human and blood sacrifices to worship their many Gods,but mainly towards Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. Although the Aztecs did conquer many other regions with different Mexican Gods, they continued to honour their own traditional Aztec Gods at the same time. BeliefsAshley Poon

8 Sculpture of the Quetzalcoatl found in Mexico made around 1325-1521 CE (left) Mosaic Mask of Tezcatlipoca found in Mexico made around 1400-1500 CE (right)  Kathryn Denning, Introduction to Arcaeology and Palaeoanthropology. 2006. – Mosaic Maskof Tezcatlipoca, 2006 (5/8/13)  C McEwan, British =mm033550.jpg&retpage=15978 (5/8/13) Quetzalcoatl Beliefs Ashley Poon

9 Human Sacrifice Depiction of a priest sacrificing a human found in Codex Laud, a manuscript found in Central Mexico, dating around 1400- 1500 CE, before the Spanish take over. Mexicolore, Aztecs. N.d. the-aztecs-made-a-sacrifice-on-average-every-10-minutes (5/8/2013). the-aztecs-made-a-sacrifice-on-average-every-10-minutes BeliefsAshley Poon

10 Priests Depiction of a priest with blood all over their body from performing rituals, found in Codex Tudela: folio 76, created during 1400- 1500 CE. Mexicolore, Aztecs. N.d. their-matted-hair (5/8/13). their-matted-hair BeliefsAshley Poon

11 Information Panel-Infrastructure Aztecs were great innovators, even though they had innovations passed down from their ancestors, they took what they had and made more of it. They improved agriculture with methods like irrigation, terracing and raised fields. With their innovativeness they were able to be communal by building canals that allowed the to cross rivers and ravines on tall aqueducts, it was used to bring drinking water from the cities across the lake InfrastructureNahili T

12 Aztec Homes Outline of an Aztec house. From “The Codex of Mendoza” Aztec at Mexicolore, “Home smoky home”, n.d, smoky-home (accessed May,8,2013) smoky-home InfrastructureNahili T

13 Templo Mayor Templo Mayor, built in 1390 AD Dedicated to two gods Age of Kings Heaven, “Wonders”, 27 August 2012, (Accessed 8 May 2013) InfrastructureNahili T

14 King Moctezuma I Palace King Moctezuma II palace, from the Codex of Mendoza Aztecs at Mexicolore, “Question for February 2007”, February 2007, (Accessed May 8 2013) InfrastructureNahili T

15 Information Panel: Politics & Government The highest ranking in the Aztec government was the “tlatoani” (king/ruler) who was the Aztec emperor. The emperor was the ruler of Tenochtitlan, the capital of Aztec. He was also a member of the Triple Alliance with the cities of Tlacopan and Tetxcoco. The tlatoani was the king of a city-state and owned or controlled the land. Below the emperor in the government system were the teuchli, or lords, a respected class that produced judges, generals, and elected officials throughout the land. The king was chosen by election: election depended on merit, and the job of the council was to choose the most able person among relatives of the deceased ruler. This election process was used consistently in Aztec life and kept continuity by ensuring that most, if not all, Aztec emperors came from the same family. Strict legal codes were implemented and punishment was more severe for the nobles. There was no separation between religion and government. The emperor relied on spiritual and political advisors to help make decisions. Politics and Gov.Aliyah Hirchberg

16 Coatlicue, stone sculpture; in the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Brittanica, Coatlicue, N. d.,, May 8, 2013. Politics and Gov.Aliyah Hirchberg

17 Fragment of a stone box, Tlaloc, the Mexica Rain God, is depicted. British Museum, The British Museum, N. d., fragment_of_a_stone_box.aspx, May 8, 2013 Politics and Gov.Aliyah Hirchberg

18 Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina (also known as Montezuma I) from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis Aztec-History, Moctezuma, N.d., http://www.aztec- May 9, 2013 Politics and Gov.Aliyah Hirchberg

19 Information Panel- Economy Agriculture and farming was the basis of living and the major fundamental aspect of the Aztec’s economy which represents continuity. Arable land spread to the east and to the southwest, producing food for the masses with corn as being the most important and mainly produced. Market exchange was for all people to come to the centralized market to sell or buy goods or services. The main products sold at the market were little clay figurines, feathers imported from the Tropics, food, cloth and luxury goods. These purchases were made with beans. Since the economy was based on farming, the farmers had the greatest pressure since they grew the food products and goods. Communication was carried out by titlantil, messengers who travelled on foot and worked in relays. There were messenger stations on main roads which were 8 ½ km apart and they were used for different purposes with the most important being in time of war for sending instructions to military commanders. Joy Pak Economy

20 Map of the Major trade route Phillips, Charles. “The Aztec and Maya World.” Lorenz Books: London, 2005 Trade operated from Tenochititlan to the north and south trading feathers, figurines, and luxury good through these major trade routes. Joy Pak Economy

21 Farming & Agriculture The Aztec History and Culture, The Aztec Culture. March 11, 2012., http://, May 9 th, 2013http:// Aztec’s economy was based on farming because of the fertile land therefore leading to a great production of corn and other food products. Joy Pak Economy

22 Communication Ancient Scripts, Mesoamerican Writing Systems, N.d.,, May 9, 2013 Aztec’s language was called Nahuatl and consisted of pictographic writing which were small pictures that represented words. Economy Joy Pak

23 Information Panel: Gender Roles The roles of women and men were very different and traditional. Men, the head of the household, were responsible for providing for his family. Additionally, every man was expected to serve on the battlefield. The most important role for women was motherhood. Her responsibilities included cleaning and sweeping the house, cooking skillfully, purifying the home of evil spirits, weaving and tending to domestic animals. Women could also own property, be priestesses, be matchmakers, courtesans or sacrificial maidens. Children also lived very separate lives, boys training with their fathers and girls with the mothers. Both girls and boys attended school but learned different things to prepare them for their future lives. However, both genders learned singing, dancing and religious rituals as this was how knowledge and beliefs were passed down. Eva PandyGender

24 Male Warrior Mexicolore, Aztec Women: Capable and Cosmic Enemies, 2012, http:// home/aztec-women (May 8,2013).http:// home/aztec-women Ceramic statue of an elite eagle warrior found near the Aztec Great Temple. The figurine describes the glorified position fallen soldiers received. Eva PandyGender

25 The Wife and Mother Drawing of an Aztec woman blowing on the maize as she cooks it so it would not fear the fire (Florentine Codex 1, fol 347). University of Minnesota Duluth, Food and Religion, 2013, faculty/troufs/anthfood/afreligion.html (May 8, 2013). faculty/troufs/anthfood/afreligion.html Eva PandyGender

26 Education of Boys and Girls Mexicolore, Aztec Women: Capable and Cosmic Enemies, 2012, http:// (May 8,2013).http:// Picture of a father teaching his son to fish and a mother instructing her daughter in weaving (Codex Mendoza Folio 60r). Eva PandyGender

27 Information Panel: Social Structure The Aztec people were very traditional and hierarchical in the way that they ran their society. They were divided into 4 social classes- nobles, commoners, serfs and slaves. The arrangement of their social pyramid allowed for very little mobility for those at the bottom of the hierarchy. As well, nobility made up only 5% of the population, and was strictly hereditary. In addition to the social structure of classes, there was the expectation that boys would ideally grow up to be warriors (an elite, respected position) or have an occupation like their father’s, and that girls would grow up to manage the household (cook, weave, clean and child-rear) just as their mothers had before them. Malaika TaylorSocial Structure

28 Housing—Nobles vs. Commoners Evans, Susan. What exactly was a ‘calpulli’?. Thames and Hudson, 2004. Picture created by Michael E Smith (Archaeologist who specializes in Aztec civilization) Comparison of rural noble compound (A) to commoner’s house (B) Social StructureMalaika Taylor

29 Aztec Jewelry Gold Aztec Jewelry lip ornament only worn by male nobility or warriors on lower lip Aztec History. Finished Aztec Jewelry. 2006. Social StructureMalaika Taylor

30 Ceremonial Objects 4200 cm gold foil wooden spear thrower from 1325 AD called “Atlatl”, used for ceremonial purposes The British Museum. Wooden Spear Thrower. London. Social Structure Malaika Taylor

31 The largest and most successful Empire of Mesoamerica… The Aztecs…


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