Part ll Essay
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Date Created: 09/07/16
Breanna Starnes History 1050.031 The Aztecs The Aztecs were an advanced civilization who lived over five centuries ago. The origins of the Aztecs are unknown; However, we do know it was founded by a nomadic tribe called the Mexica. The Aztecs spoke an ancient language called Nahuatl. The Aztecs were once a nomadic group and, after two centuries of moving around, the group decided to settle down. The Aztecs chose their location, based on a dream their leader had, after seeing an eagle perched on a cactus in what is today’s Mexico City. Life was hard for the Aztecs but they were optimistic, but in just onehundred years their population had grown to fifteen million people. Unfortunately, the Aztec Empire didn’t make it to modern day society. Tenochtitlan, also known as “The Venice of the New World” or “The City of the Gods”, was the capital of the Aztecs. When Tenochtitlan was discovered by Europeans, the city was large even compared to most European cities. Since the Aztecs believed that their cities were aligned with the cosmos their cities were very advanced metropolitan areas, in which Tenochtitlan was the largest. At the time, the area was a swamp land so the Aztecs used boats on water passage ways as a means of transportation. The Aztecs were amazing engineers. The Aztecs were even able to able the aqueducts for their cities; Aztec cities were known to be a very clean places and even said to have had garbage men. So while the rest of the world was dying of a plague cause by unsanitary conditions the Aztecs were thriving. The crime rate of Tenochtitlan was low. Tenochtitlan is where the main temple was located, where the Aztecs would worship daily. Tenochtitlan was the heart of the Aztec empire. Even though the Aztecs had advanced cities centuries ahead of them, the Aztec people lived in poverty. The Aztecs lived in adobe homes, houses made of mud brick, and used Cacao seeds as currency. Because the Aztecs were so impoverished slavery was a big part of the Aztec culture. It was very common that Aztecs would sell themselves, or their children, into slavery. Most Aztec slaves became slaves because they were living impoverished lives. Although, unlike the slavery in the United States, the Aztecs could buy their way out of slavery. Most slaves never lived long enough to get back out of slavery though; The Aztecs had a life expectancy of only thirtyseven years. Slaves were allowed to get married and have children. Aztec slaves weren’t seen as property, but more of servants. Slaves couldn’t The common people only made up about twenty percent of the Aztec people. Common people were usually agricultural workers or warriors. The Aztec common people were not allowed to own land, but stay on the land like serfs for the Nobles. The nobility was noble by birth, and a few who had earned their rank. Noble people would be in charge of government, religion, armies, and even the other Aztecs. Nobles own all the land. For the most part, Aztec life wasn’t that bad regardless of your class status. Family life as an Aztec is much different from modern society. When an Aztec would get married they would be considered an independent adult. When married a family would be given land to build a home on. Polygamy, having more than one partner or spouse, was a common practice that the Aztecs participated it. While it was common for a husband to have more than Breanna Starnes History 1050.031 one wife, it was forbidden that a woman has more than one husband. Even though the husband would treat all of his wives equally he had one primary wife and the rest were secondary wives. The primary wife would be the one to go through a wedding ceremony, but all of the wives would be legally recognized. But don’t mistake the Aztec’s polygamy for unfaithfulness because adultery was a crime punishable by death. In the Aztec empire if a couple wasn’t happy they would just divorce; Divorce was allowed and property would be divided equally. The men were dominant over women; A woman would never be head of household, nor learn to read and write. Men would have jobs of status like farmers, doctors, priests, or even a great Aztec warrior. Women would preform household duties, be responsible for raising children, and were often successful enough to run a business out of their home. Education was the responsibility of the parents, especially the mother, to teach to their children; Education was supervised by the government. Parents loved their children, yet disciplined them firmly. Overall, family life was an amazing aspect of the Aztecs. The Aztecs created a calendar stone dedicated to the sun God. The calendar stone was twelve feet in diameter, three feet thick, and twentyfive tonnes or over fiftyfivethousand pounds. The calendar was cared from basalt, a solidified lava, which isn’t surprising considering how many volcanoes are in the area. The first calendar, the Xiuhpohualli, was the counting of years. The Aztecs believed there were threehundredsixtyfive days in the year, four seasons, eighteen months consisting of twenty days each, and 5 days they liked to call the ‘unlucky’ days. The Aztecs were so advanced; Their calendar isn’t much different from today. The second calendar, the Tonalpohualli, was considered a sacred calendar because of how it related to the Aztec’s religion; They believed this calendar would be kept the Gods in balance. The second calendar had twenty signs and thirteen numbers, the Aztecs lived thirteen day weeks because of this. The Tonalpohualli had a God ruling every day, and another God ruling over each week. Every fiftytwo years the two Aztec calendars would align, and Aztecs believed that it would bring disaster to the world so the Aztecs would hold a New Fire Festival. The Festival wasn’t much of a festival at all; During the festival the entire Aztec empire would destroy all their belongings and mourn until a constellation of Pleiades could be seen. Aztec religion was unique; Aztec religion was a mixture of dates, gods, sacrifices, directions, and even colors. The Aztec was based of fear of the unknown and the end of the world. The Aztec religion was divided into four parts in which their capital, Tenochtitlan, was the center. It is even said they believed that heaven and hell intersected at the temple in Tenochtitlan. Their heaven was 13 ascending layers and their hell was 9 descending layers. In Aztec religion, the world was created, by Gods, and destroyed, by natural disasters, four times before they successfully created the world that the Aztecs lived on. The Aztecs believed a God named Quetzalcoatl created the human being. It is said Quetzalcoatl went to the underworld to gather up bones from previous world’s people. On Quetzalcoatl’s way back he dropped the bones shattering them into all different sizes, explaining why humans are not all the same height. Adding his own blood to the bones, man was created. The Gods sacrificed themselves so that the Aztecs could live on. The Aztecs believed that they needed to have ritual bloodletting or sacrifice people because their sun God needed constant blood sacrifices for the sun God to continue fight the darkness. Death wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in the Aztec world. Aztecs believed in reincarnation, and even spirits roaming the earth. Even being sacrificed was an Breanna Starnes History 1050.031 honor. Aztecs would be buried under their homes in a squatting position, said to help them on their afterlife journey, and family would even kill pets to be buried with their owners. Aztec religion was complex, and even odd looking back on it today, and possibly the reason their people aren’t here today. The fall of the Aztecs happened for more than just one reason. The Aztec ritual of human sacrifice was a big problem, after all it’s hard to keep your population rising when you’re killing them off. The Aztecs would often start wars, know as Aztec flower wars, to take in prisoners that they could use for sacrifices, making the Aztecs even more of a target. Any chance they had was lost once Spanish conquistadors arrived. The Aztecs even thought Cortez was their God! The Spaniards even used the Aztecs human sacrifices as justice for conquering an evil civilization. Disease plays a major role in the end of the Aztec empire. Spaniards brought smallpox to the Aztec empire, killing about 50% of the population after one year. The emperor, Cuitlahuac, caught the disease and died; The emperor’s death left the Aztec empire scared and vulnerable. Cortez was able to easily take over the capital at that point, exterminating all the innocent citizens of Tenochtitlan. It is said that almost a quarter of a million people died during the final battle for Tenochtitlan. Cortez and the Spanish army had horses, the Aztecs saw their horses as war machines. The Aztecs were known to be noble warriors; With disease against them, and no government, they were weak and stood no chance against the Spanish army. The Aztecs were a civilization beyond its time. The Aztecs were very influential in later Mexican culture; In fact, Mexico gets its name from the Aztecs founding nomadic tribe, the Mexica. The Aztecs lived good lives, and were extremely faithful of their religion. It is believed that the Aztecs were the start of civilizations growing into what we have today. The Aztecs started with nothing but a swamp land and turned themselves into a flowering civilization. Although the Aztec civilization was destroyed, they are not forgotten. Breanna Starnes History 1050.031 Bibliography "HISTORY OF THE AZTECS." HISTORY OF THE AZTECS. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa12 "101 Facts... Aztecs! Fun Facts You Need to Know!" Fun Facts You Need to Know. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://ipfactly.com/101factsaztecsbook/ History.com Staff. "Aztecs." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://www.history.com/topics/aztecs "10 Fascinating Facts About the Aztecs Listverse." Listverse. 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://listverse.com/2013/02/21/10fascinatingfactsabouttheaztecs/ "25 Unbelievable Facts About The Aztecs." List25. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://list25.com/25unbelievablefactsabouttheaztecsthatmightsurpriseyou/ "20 Interesting Facts About Aztecs You Probaby Didn't Know." LOLWOT. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://www.lolwot.com/20interestingfactsaboutaztecsyouprobabydidntknow/5/ Davidimo89. "The Aztecs: Engineering an Empire." YouTube. YouTube, 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyB47qGXoI "Aztec History." Aztec History. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. http://www.aztechistory.com/ "Aztec Culture and Society Crystalinks." Aztec Culture and Society Crystalinks. Web. 02 Apr. 2016. http://www.crystalinks.com/azteculture.html "Aztec Culture and Society Crystalinks." Aztec Culture and Society Crystalinks. Web. 02 Apr. 2016. http://www.britannica.com/topic/Aztec
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