Presentation on theme: " The Valley of Mexico, a mountain basin about 7,500 feet above sea level, served as the home base of several powerful cultures. The valley had several."— Presentation transcript:
The Valley of Mexico, a mountain basin about 7,500 feet above sea level, served as the home base of several powerful cultures. The valley had several large, shallow lakes at it center, accessible resources and fertile soil.
The first major civilization of Central Mexico was Teotihuacan, whose ruins lay just outside Mexico City. At its peak in the 6 th century, Teotihuacan had a population of between 150,000 and 200,000. It became the center of a thriving trade network that extended far into Central America. After centuries of growth, the city suddenly declined.
After the fall of Teotihuacan, no single group dominated Central Mexico for decades until around 900 when the Toltecs came to power. The Toltecs were an extremely warlike people whose empire was based on conquest. They worshipped a fierce war god who demanded blood and human sacrifice from his followers.
Around 1000 a Toltec ruler named Topiltzin tried to change the Toltec religion. He called for the people to end human sacrifice and worship a different god, Quetzalcoatl or Feathered Serpent. The followers of the war god rebelled and Topiltzin was sent into exile. After his exile, Toltec power began to decline and by the 1200s their reign had ended. The Story of Quetzalcoatl
The Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico around 1200 C.E. The Aztecs, who were known as the Mexica, were a poor, nomadic people from the harsh deserts of North Mexico. They founded Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texcoco in 1325.
Over the years, the Aztecs gradually increased in strength and number. In 1428 they joined with Texcoco and Tlacopan to form the Triple Alliance. By the early 1500s, they controlled a vast empire that stretched from Central Mexico to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and south into Oaxaca.
Military leaders held great power and with government officials and priests, they formed the noble class. Commoners included merchants, artisans, soldiers and farmers who owned their own land. Enslaved persons, who were captives, were at the bottom. The emperor was at the top and had absolute power.
Religion played a major role in Aztec society and the Aztecs had about 1,000 gods. Aztec religious practices centered on elaborate public ceremonies designed to communicate with the gods and win their favor. The most important rituals involved a sun god, Huitzilopochtli. He made the sun rise every day and required human blood for nourishment.
Sacrificial victims included enslaved persons, criminals and people offered as tribute. Prisoners of war were the preferred victims and as a result priests needed a steady supply of war captives. The Aztecs often went to war not to conquer new lands but to capture prisoners for sacrifice.
In 1502 a new ruler, Montezuma II, was crowned emperor and under him the empire would began to weaken. With the population of Tenochtitlan ever greater, Montezuma II called for even more tribute and sacrifices. A number of provinces rose up against Aztec oppression and this began a period of unrest and rebellion.
Over time Montezuma II tried to lessen the pressure on the provinces. He reduced the demand for tribute payment by cutting the number of officials. But resentment continued to grow and many Aztecs began to predict that terrible things were about to happen. The most worrying event was the arrival of the Spanish. For many Aztecs, these fair-skinned, bearded strangers from across the sea brought to mind the legend of the return of Quetzalcoatl.