Aztec Empire Part I – Midterm

Time: Classical Periods, 150-700 AD (125-250K people by garbage estimate)
Meaning: Place of Where Gods are Born
Predecessor for Aztec culture
Burned c. 700-900 – gained sacred meaning to the Aztecs
First Tollan: major model city
Characteristics: grid pattern, apartment complexes;
Aztec Inheritance: ideas of sacrifice, different; similar conquering style of control over economic and social lives of the people, establishing of trade relationships, and conquering/expansion into nearby areas Teotihuacan gods; myths; birth place of the gods –
Trait: Sun and moon pyramids, site of the initial sacrifice of Tetzicacl and Nanahuien who sacrificed them to make the sun and the moon move during the fifth sun

pre-Aztec civilization part of the Toltecs; pre-1250; Fall of Teotihuacan led to the growth of warring states and Tula became the closest thing to a successor; TOLLAN MODEL CITY; Aztec myth of Tula being the home of master craftsmanship; replication of Tula art in Aztec culture (blocky square style like warrior columns); link to Quetzalcoatl the feathered-serpent god;

(1200-400 BC); first and most influential of the MesoAmerica culture; first of the cultures to have monumental architecture with the building of pyramids and mounds; first writing culture; helped establish high status of objects such as jade; idea of body modification (molding of heads); considered the mother/sister culture; located south of the gulf of mexico; “the rubber people” by Nahuatl translation; origin of the ball game; ceremonial architecture; symbols of rulership; advanced agriculture;

raised fields in swamps; productive agriculture; effective way of farming the swamps; mud and muck piled from the raised fields than acted as fertilizier; To build the chinampas, plots about 30m by 2.5m were staked out on the lake bed. A fence was woven between the stakes, and the area would be filled in with mud and vegetation. The next rectangle would be parallel to this one, with room for a canal in between, where canoes could pass through. These canals of course offered irrigation, and provided food of their own such as fish and water fowl. Often willows would be planted along the edge of the plot, to provide further stable fencing as well as shade (though they would be carefully pruned to allow enough sunlight into the farm plot).; In the end, the garden plot would be no more than a few feet above the level of the lake. They were supported with the Aztec’s complex irrigation and waterway systems, which included dams, aqueducts and gates.

Templo Mayor
twin-pyramids for Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli; union of temples symbolized the agriculture with war; one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica. The temple was called the huei teocalli [ˈwei teoˈkalːi][1] in the Nahuatl language and dedicated simultaneously to two gods, Huitzilopochtli, god of war, and Tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture, each of which had a shrine at the top of the pyramid with separate staircases. The spire in the center of the image to the right was devoted to Quetzalcoatl in his form as the wind god, Ehecatl. The Great Temple devoted to Huiztilopochtli and Tlaloc, measuring approximately 100 by 80 m (328 by 262 ft) at its base, dominated the Sacred Precinct. Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times after that. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521.

The atlatl was one of the weapons used by Mexica warriors to propel their darts with greater force. The darts were also made of wood, with points made of obsidian, metal, flint, fishbone or just hardened on the fire.

group of families living near one another; within urban capollis, life typically revolved around a trade or economic specialization; rural capollis equally thrived; more so about interconnected families rurally that shared an assigned piece of agricultural land; organized into districts; social control by compartimentalization; no idea of private property;

Triple Alliance
(Empire Years = 1428-1519); the term “Aztec” is word from colonial creation; translated, the Aztecs would have been known contemporaneously as the Triple Alliance; lead tribe was the Mexica; capital city established as Tenochtitlan; Texcoco and Tlacopan

alcoholic beverage; condemnation of public intoxication (especially because of implied amount consumed with low alcoholic content); made from fermented maguey;

responsible for the creation of the fifth sun, our current sun; the fourth sun had bee destroyed by floods with the creation of a land of water; Quetzalcoatl used trickery to create humans; he shed his blood over the bones of those that died during the fourth sun which created the people of the fifth sun (Again religious debt); the feathered serpent; wind; circular temples because of wind; Temple of the Feather Serpent in Teotihuacan originally; pro-knowledge and learning; against human sacrifice; god-king of the Toltecs;

dates back to ancient MesoAmerica; storm god, raid god, watering of crops; abstract deity; goggle eyes; ripped out jawl bleeding lower jaw with remaining upper jaw; symbolized rain, fertility; and agriculture; with Templo Mayor and the combination with Quetzalcoatl came to be symbolized with sacrifice; scary in appearance but mostly beneficial to the Aztecs; also associated with the sacrifice of children because they cry

high gods, obsidian mirror, patron of kinds; balanced with Quetzalcoatl [allies and adversaries, creators of heaven and earth; they destroy the previous sun but create heaven and earth in the new sun] association with trees as supporting heaven and earth; creator god; most associated with the magical and the supernatural; missing leg replaced with a serpent leg; also preferred sacrifice through gladiatorial combat; One of the four sons of Ometeotl, he is associated with a wide range of concepts, including the night sky, the night winds, hurricanes, the north, the earth, obsidian, enmity, discord, rulership, divination, temptation, jaguars, sorcery, beauty, war and strife. His name in the Nahuatl language is often translated as “Smoking Mirror” and alludes to his connection to obsidian, the material from which mirrors were made in Mesoamerica which were used for shamanic rituals and prophecy.

Calendar Stone
The Aztec Sun Stone (or Calendar Stone) depicts the five consecutive worlds of the sun from Aztec mythology. The stone is not, therefore, in any sense a functioning calendar, but rather it is an elaborately carved solar disk, which for the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures represented rulership. At the top of the stone is a date glyph (13 reed) which represents both the beginning of the present sun, the 5th and final one according to mythology, and the actual date 1427 CE, thereby legitimizing the rule of Itzcoatl (who took power in that year) and creating a bond between the divine and mankind. ; The stone was discovered in December 1790 CE in the central plaza of Mexico City and now resides in the National Museum of Anthropology in that city.

[c. 500 BC] part of the lowland Maya; seed of MesoAmerica culture

Aztec codices are books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary sources for Aztec culture. The pre-Columbian codices differ from European codices in that they are largely pictorial; they were not meant to symbolize spoken or written narratives.The colonial era codices not only contain Aztec pictograms, but also Classical Nahuatl (in the Latin alphabet), Spanish, and occasionally Latin. Some are entirely in Nahuatl without pictorial content.

Prismatic blade
required a high degree of skill; very long; rare in archaeological records becase easy to break/shatter; can only be formed by chipping from a prepared core of obsidian; long, narrow, specialized stone flake tool with a sharp edge, like a small razor blade.[1] Prismatic blades are flaked from stone cores through pressure flaking. This process results in a very standardized finished tool and waste assemblage. Obsidian use was widespread in Mesoamerica, and obsidian blades were often produced, though chert, flint, and chalcedony blades are not uncommon.; Prismatic blades were used for cutting and scraping, and have been reshaped into other tool types

also known as flint; flakes well for making goods;

leader of the Triple Alliance with Motecuhzoma and Tlacaelel; advisor Tlacaele (brother to Montezohuma I); Uniqure world view – rewriting of Aztec history even with book burning; emphasis placed on the inevitability of the empire; fourth king of the Aztec of Tenochtitlan and the first emperor, ruling from 1427 (or 1428) to 1440, the period when the Mexica threw off the domination of the Tepanecs and laid the foundations for the eventual Aztec Empire.

member of the Triple Alliance along with Itzcoatl, and Motecuhzoma; advisor to Itzcoatl but perhaps more influential than the emperor himself; principal architect of the Aztec Triple Alliance and hence the Mexica (Aztec) empire.[2][3] He was the son of Emperor Huitzilihuitl and Queen Cacamacihuatl, nephew of Emperor Itzcoatl, and brother of Emperors Chimalpopoca and Moctezuma I.; During the reign of his uncle Itzcoatl, Tlacaelel was given the office of Tlacochcalcatl, but during the war against the Tepanecs in the late 1420s, he was promoted to first adviser to the ruler, a position called Cihuacoatl in Nahuatl, an office that Tlacaelel held during the reigns of four consecutive Tlatoque, until his death in 1487.; Tlacaelel recast or strengthened the concept of the Aztecs as a chosen people, elevated the tribal god/hero Huitzilopochtli to top of the pantheon of gods,[4] and increased militarism. In tandem with this, Tlacaelel is said to have increased the level and prevalence of human sacrifice, particularly during a period of natural disasters that started in 1446 (according to Durán). Durán also states that it was during the reign of Moctezuma I, as an invention of Tlacaelel that the flower wars, in which the Aztecs fought Tlaxcala and other Nahuan city-states, were instigated.; To strengthen the Aztec nobility, he helped create and enforce sumptuary laws, prohibiting commoners from wearing certain adornments such as lip plugs, gold armbands, and cotton cloaks. He also instigated a policy of burning the books of conquered peoples with the aim of erasing all memories of a pre-Aztec past.; When he dedicated the seventh reconstruction of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, Tlacaelel had brought his nation to the height of its power. The dedication took place in 1484 and was celebrated with the sacrifice of many war captives. After Tlacaelel’s death in 1487, the Mexica Empire continued to expand north into the Gran Chichimeca and south toward the Maya lands.

rival to the Aztecs; during the establishment of the empre they were made to pay tribute in the form of military service; Azcapotzalco was a pre-Columbian Nahua altepetl (state), capital of the Tepanec empire, in the Valley of Mexico, on the western shore of Lake Texcoco.; The name Azcapotzalco means “at the anthill” in Nahuatl. Its inhabitants were called Azcapotzalca.; According to the 17th century annalist Chimalpahin, Azcapotzalco was founded by Chichimecs in the year 995 AD

within the Aztec religion, an idea of reciprocal obligation between humans and gods; the gods self-sacrificed themselves for the humans; a payment of debt; debt never fulfilled; blood requirement for maintainin the continued life of the world either through autosacrifice or human sacrifice;

within the polytheistic religious system of the gods, system further expanded with fluctuating aspects of the gods; expansionistic religion – gods for any need; fluid gender to also conform to needs; impact on morality – good and evil is a fluid system, not a binary system; gods are both good and bad, all actions based on whim not character traits; no ultimate good or evil; helps to explain both good and bad events that happen to people;

cyclical time
influenced by the gods; calendar is “wheel like” and repetitive; same themes cycle through; ordained belief; pessimistic/jaded worldview; constant cycle of creation and destruction; fifth sun current sun = Nahui ollin; sacrifice in hoping in delaying the world end; 5th sun will be destroyed by earthquakes; paranoia created with a calendar indicating destruction; no long count; only short count; 52 year cycle;

“flowery wars”
idea of the need of continuous warfare for the Aztecs; repetitive wars that were not necessary except for seeking new war captives for sacrifice; also a show of political strength

pockets of land within the Aztec empire were not conquered; Tlaxcalla and example of executing the flowery wars; perhaps purposely kept unsecure for the sake of a supply of war captives for sacrifice; although perhaps the Aztecs truly could not conquer Tlaxcalla; constantly raided but never conqured; end up joining forces with Cortes with the arrival of the Spanish;

emphasis on blood (requires movement to keep things going; idea of rank – emperor’s blood is partially god blood and further helps to keep things going; autosacrifice needed for communication with the gods; typically accomplished with maguey thorns, obsidians blades; stringray spines not really used but displayed as a form of autosacrifice falsely for the sake of effect; piercing of tongues, ears [autosacrifice has to hurt to work]; bone needles; piercing of calves, chest, and ears

New Fire
ceremony that occurs at the end of a 52 year cycle; removal of the heart; body place on altar; fire created in the heart; all city lights turned off; light city lights with heart fire; All pots and pans broken (house cleaned on new day of cycle) New Fire Ceremony, also called The Binding Up of the Years, in Aztec religion, ritual celebrated every 52 years when the 260-day ritual and 365-day civil calendars returned to the same positions relative to each other. In preparation, all sacred and domestic fires were allowed to burn out. At the climax of the ceremony, priests ignited a new sacred fire on the breast of a sacrificial victim, from which the rest of the people rekindled their hearth fires; the people then began feasting.

opposing groups to the Aztecs while they were migrating into the; like the Toltecs, considered by the Aztecs as ancestors; gave the idea of royal and ethnic identity;

Aztec chocolate

Early Aztec Period
c. 1100 – 1300; signifies the arrival of the Nahuatl speaking people; characterized by the development of Aztec towns, cities, and dynasties;

commoners of Aztec society; controlled largely by the fact that nobles owned their land; owe tribute (sometimes paid in the form of labor tax – explains how monumental architecture came to be built but better conditions than European sergs)

Late Aztec Period
c. 1300 – 1520 AD; rise of Tenochtitlan as the capital city and rise of the Triple Alliance;

Aztec slavery
[tlacotin] more like indentured servitude; not born into slavery; possibility of selling oneself into slavery to pay off debt (Aztecs loved to gamble); very rarely sacrificed, sacrifice more so for war captives; not used for major, labor intensive construction endeavors; modest economic contribution

[tlachtli] possibly originated with the Olmecs, “the rubber people”; played by all classes (although maybe not played by slaves); ball courts appeared everywhere in both simple and complex forms; solid rubbers balls; first team sport every played c. 3500 years ago; ball must be kept in motion with no rolling; ball considered the sun passing through the underworld that is the court; or ball could be a symbol of sacrifice like a beheaded head; ball games were even interpreted by the preists to predict the future

board game; taken very seriously; boards found across Mesoamerica; similar more or less to Parcheesi; chance game; accomplished by rolling beans for numbers with the goal to make it around 52 spaces (same number ay cycle) bettings based on guessing on how many roles it will take to get around the board; rare chance of downward social mobility in the form of betting onself into debt; even had a god dedicated to patolli

bowl in which a removed heart was placed after sacrifice; heart would then be burned; with the burning serving to deliver the heart to the gods through smell; A Chac Mool is a very specific type of Mesoamerican statue associated with ancient cultures such as the Aztecs and Maya. The statues, made of different types of stone, depict a reclined man holding a tray or bowl on his belly or chest. Much is unknown about the origin, significance and purpose of the Chac Mool statues, but ongoing studies have proven a strong link between them and Tlaloc, Mesoamerican god of rain and thunder.

most precious material; incredibly hard; only found in one specific area of the Aztec empire; gained importance in pre-Aztec civilizations such as the Olmecs; labor intensive; shaping through abrasion; only available near river Matagua; idea that elites can commune supernatural entities;

Aztecs known for their use of obsidian; extremely sharp but brittle; use for cutting tools; second most abundant item found within the Aztec empire except for potsherds;

original empire builders; highly advanced for the use of Bronze weapons; one of the few groups the Aztecs could not conquer; resisted until the Spanish conquest of 1519; only real enemy;

no purpose but to look good; Aztecs traded unrefined eccentrics (compared to Maya); frequently found in burials; laborious process of making eccentrics aestetically appealing; burying publicly of labor; sign of elite status when a labor intensive product is easily disposed;

Quetzalcoatl follows an ant into a hidden cave of seeds and grain; so impressed he breaks the mountain of sustenance to have maize; considered to be from the garden of the gods and a source of life; corn was always ground by women to make tortillas (a time consuming, laborious task); grinding of the corn akin to Quetzalcoatl grinding the bones of the previous suns to make new people; eating corn (or anything from the ground) considered eating a bit of death as they were buried in the ground; high calories, high protein, essential part of Aztec diet;

particular rise in terracing after the population boom between 1200 and 1400; maguey plants would be planted in rows to form terraces, which would limit soil erosion;

Tlatelolco market
markets; availability of domesticated anaimsl such as turkeys, dogs, and ducks (no large domesticated animals like cows, horses, donkeys); large amounts of diversity of food available; tribute allowed for distribution of goods across large distances; Tlatelolco was the adjacent city to Tenochtitlan; eventual combining of the two cities; ** largest market** use of canoes for transportation;

“place of seven caves,” The Aztecs emerged as different people and started migrating; part of the rags to riches story; importance of caves as a starting point and access to the underworld;

mythical place of origin; modern label “place of herons’; believed to be mythological because of lack of evidence but you never know; rags to riches story of power; The place Aztlan is mentioned in several ethnohistorical sources dating from the colonial period, and each of them give different lists of the different tribal groups who participated in the migration from Aztlan to central Mexico, but the Mexica who went on to found Mexico-Tenochtitlan are mentioned in all of the accounts. Historians have speculated about the possible location of Aztlan and tend to place it either in northwestern Mexico or the southwest US, although there are significant doubts about whether the place is purely mythical or represents a historical reality.

mother of Huitzilopochtli; Coatlicue was impregnated by feathers; her older children considered her impure and tried to kill her unborn child; Coatlicue gave birth to an adult Huitzilopochtli who then killed his older siblings while protecting his mother; birth of Huitzolopochtli symbolizes the rise of the Aztec people and the right to rule and expand

state ideology
first evident unter Emperor Itzcoatl and his advisor Tlacaelel; bringing in of MesoAmerica culture; new idea concerning Aztecs

Xipe Totec
fertility, victim of sacrifice; flayed skin; springtime; flayed gods = wearing the skins of sacrifice victims; sacrifices not given through the typical temple methods; instead gladiator style; Mesoamerican god of spring and new vegetation and patron of goldsmiths. Xipe Totec was venerated by the Toltecs and Aztecs. As a symbol of the new vegetation, Xipe Totec wore the skin of a human victim—the “new skin” that covered the Earth in the spring. His statues and stone masks always show him wearing a freshly flayed skin.

part of the essential schooling; for religion, rhetoric, and song; , exclusive for nobles and some exceptional commoners; although universal singing, dancing, and instruments for the sake of rituals;

school for commoners; emphasis on warfare;

Aztecs operated within a class system; pochteca = merchants; patron god Yacatecuhtli; independent traders; useful for defending the empire as a source of information as they traveled across the empire for trade; had their own unique society; equivalent to artisans; closest class similar to a middle class within Aztec society; pochtea increase in commerce meant more wealth and influence;

Cuexcomate is a larger site with over 150 houses and other structures, including temples, storehouses, and ritual dumps

test pit
random finding

profile view
drawings representing the findings of excavations; order of events at a given site at a given time;

he metate (a Mexican Spanish word from the Náhuatl metlatl) can be called a quern, milling stone or grinding stone. It is one of the oldest domestic tools in the Americas – as old as the domestication of maize (corn) itself, around 7000 BCE.
Metates are made of porous volcanic stone. There are many images of them in pre-Hispanic Mexican codices.

tezmazcalli – cleanliness; medical treatment; religious purification; typically part of a nobles home; part of the customs for both commoners and novles; only place for public drunkenness (at least for the elderly) – very unusual; elites would have sweat complexes linked together with a confusing layout; ritualistic process of breaking someone down, sweating out the evil and building up from there (although a failed process since it could make health worse and could encourage the spread of sickness)

gathering of gods at Teotihuacan; no sun or moon existed and they required a volunteer to sacrifice themselves for the creation of the sun and the moon; first volunteer chickens out; ugliest god jumps in instead; the chicken god is ashamed of his initial fear and jumps in as well; the first jumper (nanahuatzin) becomes the sun as a reward for his bravery; second jumper becomes the moon with the moon clearly inferior to the sun; sun and moon considered stationary and the gods sacrificed themselves to make the sun and the moon move; Reflects the value of bravery within Aztec society

site where Coatlicue was sweeping when impregnated; Coatepec, or Serpent Mountain, from the Nahuatl words coatl, serpent, and tepetl, mountain, was one of the most sacred places of Aztec mythology and religion. Coatepec was the birthplace of the god Huitzilopochtli, and the place where the newly born god, fully armed, managed to kill his sister Coyolxauhqui when she attempted to kill their mother Coatlicue, with the help of her brothers, the Four Hundred Southerners.; During the migration from their mythical homeland Aztlan, the Mexica/Aztecs reached Coatepec on their journey toward Central Mexico. According to different codices and to historian Bernardino de Sahagun, the Aztecs stayed at Coatepec for almost 30 years and built a temple on top of the hill in honor of their patron deity Huitzilopochtli; In his Primeros Memoriales, Bernardino de Sahagun records that a group of the migrating Mexica wanted to split from the rest of the tribes and settle at Coatepec. This fact really angered Huitzilopochtli who descended from his temple and forced the Mexica to resume their journeyOnce they reached the Valley of Mexico and founded their capital Tenochtitlan, the Mexica wanted to create a replica of the sacred mountain at the heart of their city. As many Aztec scholars have demonstrated, the Templo Mayor (Great Temple) of Tenochtitlan, in fact, represents a replica of Coatepec.

pre-Aztec civilization; Aztecs chose to trace their lineage to the Toltecs; gave the idea of nobility; Tula as their capital which became one of the Tolans of rthe Aztecs; model civilization for the Aztecs

quetzal feathers
restricted good exclusive to the higher classes; one of the main goods demanded by the empire as tribute from the surrounding town and city-states; featherworking was considered the most valuable and esteemed produced; quetzal feaths combined with rare featehrs of tropical birds and dyed domestic feathers of birds; hereditary occupation;