The Aztec Civilization
Location and Time Period
- The Aztec civilization was based in the Valley of Mexico between 1345 and 1521.
- The Aztec Empire’s capital city, known as Tenochtitlan, was originally built on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco.
Society and Culture
- The Aztecs had a hierarchical society with noble elites, commoners, serfs, and slaves.
- They were known for their advances in agriculture, notably their construction of chinampas (artificial islands used for farming).
- They worshipped a number of gods and were known for practising human sacrifice as part of their religious rituals.
- The Aztecs had a calendrical system made up of a 260-day ritual cycle and a 365-day secular cycle.
Conquests and Relations
- The Aztecs, led by strong military leaders, embarked on various conquests to expand their territory, rendering them a powerful civilisation.
- They followed a tribute system, requiring subjugated cities to pay goods such as maize, textiles, and precious stones.
- Aztecs engaged in trade relationships with neighbouring civilizations, promoting economic development.
- The Aztec Empire came to an end due to the Spanish Conquest led by Hernán Cortés in 1521.
- The Spanish were aided by some indigenous allies, including the Tlaxcaltec who were rivals of the Aztecs.
- The fall was facilitated by a smallpox outbreak, which drastically reduced the Aztec population.
- After the fall, Tenochtitlan was destroyed and the city of Mexico City was built in its place.