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Mesoamerica

Aztec History 101

To this day the origins of the Aztec people are still unknown, but its believed that they started as a northern tribe of hunter-gatherers who later adopted their name from their homeland Aztlan, or “White Land” in Nahuatl which happens to be the Aztec language. The Aztecs were known too as the Tenochca which is believed why the name of their capital city is Tenochtitlan or also known as the Mexica which comes from the name of the city that replaced Tenochtitlan, as well as the name for the entire country. The Aztecs appeared in Mesoamerica–as the south-central region of the pre-Columbian Mexico in the early 13th century. Their arrival came after, or perhaps helped bring the fall of the previous civilization, the Toltecs.

The legend says the Aztec tribe pilgrimage for three centuries looking for an eagle perched on a cactus devouring a snake, as a sign given by their god Huitzilopoztli meaning they had arrived to the promised land.

The Aztecs built their settlement on the marshy land near the southwest border of Lake Texcoco. They drained the swampy land, constructed artificial islands on which they planted gardens and went on to established their capital city, Tenochtitlán, somewhere around 1325 A.D. The typical Aztec crops where corn (maize), beans, squashes, potatoes, tomatoes and avocados, it doesn’t stop right there, they also supported themselves through fishing and hunting local animals such as rabbits, armadillos, snakes, coyotes and wild turkey. Their system of agriculture was very sophisticated it included the intensive cultivation of land and irrigation methods, on top of that they established a powerful military that opened the doors for them to build a successful state, that later turned into an empire.

Somewhere in 1428 the Aztecs formed a three-way alliance under their leader Itzcoatl with the Texcocans and the Tacubans to take on their most powerful rivals in the region, the Tepanec, and conquer their capital of Azcapotzalco.

Aztec Religion.

The Aztec faith is very similar in many aspects with other Mesoamerican religions, like the Mayan civilization it included the rite of human sacrifice in the cities of the Aztec empire, all kinds of temples and palaces give us an idea of the civilization’s strong and faithful devotion to their gods, here are some their gods:

  • Huitzilopochtli – god of war and of the sun
  • Tezcatlipoca – god of night and sorcery
  • Quetzalcoatl – god of wind, air, and learning
  • Coatlicue – the earth-mother goddess
  • Tonatiuh – god of sun and the patron of all Aztec warriors
  • Tlaloc – god of earthly fertility and of water
  • Chalchiuhtlicue – goddess of water and the patron of newborns and the sick
  • Xipe Totec – god of agriculture, vegetation, the east, spring, goldsmiths, silversmiths, liberation and the seasons

There is an endless list of Aztec gods, however there are endless facts and interesting topics about the Aztec imperium, their history is so extensive as well as the fall of it.