The Aztec Indians, who are known for their domination of southern and central Mexico, ruled between the 14th and 16th centuries. Their name is derived from Azatlan, the homeland of the north. The Aztecs also call themselves Mexica and there language came from the Nahuatlan branch of the Uto-Aztecan family.
The Aztecs were formed after the Toltec civilization occurred when hundreds of civilians came towards Lake texcoco. Late families were unfortunate and were forced to go to the swamp lands. In the swamp lands there was only one piece of land to farm on and it was totally surrounded by more marshes . The Aztec families some how converted these disadvantages to a might empire known as they Aztec Empire. People say the empire was partially formed by a deeply believed legend. As the the legend went it said that Aztec people would create a empire on in a swampy place where they would see an eagle eating a snake while perched on a cactus which is growing out of a rock in the swamplands. This is what priests claimed they saw while entering the new land.
By the year 1325 Their capital city was finished. They called it Tenochtitlan. In the the capital city aqueducts (piping) were constructed, bridges were built, and chinapas were made. Chinapas were little islands formed by pilled up mud. On these chinapas Aztecs grew corn, beans, chili peppers, squash, tomatoes, and tobacco. Tenochtitlan (the capital city) was covered in giant religious statues in order to pay their respects to the gods. In the Aztec religion numerous gods controlled an Aztec's daily life. Some of these gods include: Uitzilpochtli (the sun god), Coyolxauhqui (the moon goddess), Tlaloc (the rain god), and Quetzalcoatl (the inventor of the calendar and writing). Another part of the Aztec religion was human sacrifices. For their sacrifices the priest would lay the man or woman over a convex (rounded) stone, then he would take a sharp knife and cut the victims heart out. They did this because they believed that good gods could prevent bad gods from doing evil things and they also believed that good gods got their strength from human blood and hearts so they had sacrifices in order to keep their gods strong. For major rituals warriors were sacrificed, for the warrior this was one of the greatest honors and for minor rituals prisoners were used. In an Aztec marriage the grooms shirt is tied to the brides dress in order to express there bonding and after the wedding incents were burned for 4 days before proceeding with the marriage.
In 1519 Hernando Cortes, a Spanish explorer, led over 500 men into Aztec territory to search for gold. Aztecs thought he was a representative for a certain white skinned god so they respected him. It all changed when the Aztecs saw that Hernando was melting down their golden statues and shipping them back to Spain.
The Aztecs decided to attack Hernando and his men. The Aztecs were successful and drove the Spanish away. In 1520 the Spanish attacked the Aztec's capital city and destroyed their civilization. That was the end of the Aztec's mighty empire had built so long ago.
- "Aztec Indians". Young Students Learning Library 1993.
- Encarta '96. CD-ROM. U.S. Microsoft, 1996.