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Aztecs

Setting the Stage

  • Although Europeans were unknowingly

headed on a crash course with an unknown

world, other high cultures were evolving in

Central Mexico.

  • These people were the Aztecs!

The most powerful empire in Mesoamerica!

The Aztec Origins

  • The Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico around 1200 CE.

  • They referred to themselves as “the Mexica”.

  • They were fierce and ambitious people who often fought in return of money from local

rulers.

The Aztecs

  • They claimed to have lived in the area first.

  • They were actually nomads from the North.

  • They wrote history to suit their purposes.

Lake Texcoco

  • In 1325, the Aztecs settled down at Lake Texcoco and they founded their own city, Tenochtitlan.

Lake Texcoco  In 1325, the Aztecs settled down at Lake Texcoco and they founded their

Aztecs

  • As time went on, the Aztec influence and power grew.

  • The Aztecs had a reputation as strong warriors and religious fanatics!

  • The Aztecs were experts at military conquest.

Aztecs grow stronger

  • The Aztecs let local rulers govern their own regions for a small price.

  • The Aztecs did demand tribute in the form of gold, maize, cacao beans, cotton, jade, and other products.

  • If local rulers resisted the Aztecs responded

brutally.

Sacrifices for the Sun God

  • The most important rituals involved the sun god.

  • In dedication to the sun god and as a way to

please him, the Aztecs sacrificed thousands of people every year.

Typically prisoners of war.

Religion: Bloodletting Rituals

  • Shedding of human blood makes gods send

rain

  • Bloodletting involved both war captives and

Aztec royals

  • Very brutal process

Religion: Bloodletting Rituals  Shedding of human blood makes gods send rain  Bloodletting involved both

The Great Temple

  • Religion played a great role in the Aztec society.

  • The Aztecs had approximately 1,000 gods.

  • Aztec beliefs centered on huge ceremonies that communicated with the gods to win their favor.

The Sun God and Sacrifice

  • 52 year cycle of the world

required blood to escape destruction

A certain amount of people had to be sacrificed in this 52 year cycle or the world may end!

  • sacrifice for sacrifice

  • The gods need nourishment

The Sun God and Sacrifice  52 year cycle of the world – required blood to

Those crazy Aztecs

  • This pushed the Aztec military to carry out new conquests.

  • In fact, the Aztecs often went to war not to

conquer new lands, but simply to capture prisoners to sacrifice.

  • This made the Aztecs be seen as terrorist.

Effects of Human Sacrifice

  • Surrounding areas began to rise against the Aztecs.

  • This began a period of unrest and rebellion, which the military struggled to put down.

  • The most worrying event was the arrival of the Spanish in 1519.

  • For many Aztecs, these strangers from across the sea brought to mind the legend of

Quetzalcoatl.

The Fall of the Aztecs

  • 20 million people would be killed or sent into slavery.

  • This was thanks to the appearance of the

Spanish

  • Disease and European military technology led to the fall of the great Aztecs.