History of North America

The Secret of the Aztecs

The Aztecs fascinate archeology and raise assumptions around their disappearance. A community marked by work and religious beliefs, the Aztecs inhabited the region of Aztlán, northwest of Mexico. Direct successors of the Toltec lineage, the Aztecs initially formed a small tribe of hunters and gatherers who, in 1325, moved towards central Mexico and developed modern, subsistence agriculture. Among the inventions of the Aztecs are the irrigation of land and the construction of "floating gardens" - growing vegetables on land taken from the bottom of lakes. The construction of chinampas (the name given to these gardens) was carried out in the shallowest places of the lakes. The Aztecs marked out the site of future chinampas with stakes and reeds, filled them with silt extracted from the lake bottom, and mixed them with a type of aquatic vegetation that floated in the lake. This vegetation formed a thick mass on which to walk. These technologies were essential to the foundation and survival of Tenochtitlán.

Tenochtitlán, capital of the Aztec empire, was beautiful and much larger than any city in Europe at the time. This metropolis had its heyday from 400-700 AD. With its huge pyramids of the Sun and the Moon (63 and 43m high respectively), its Avenue of the Dead (1,700m long, its temples of agrarian gods and the Plumed Serpent, its hard stone masks, its magnificent pottery, it it appears to have been a theocratic and peaceful metropolis, whose influence spread as far as Guatemala.

Its priestly aristocracy undoubtedly came from the area of ​​the Olmecs and El Tajín, while the peasant population must have been composed of indigenous Otomis and other rustic tribes. The religion comprised the cult of the god of water and rain (Tlaloc), the feathered serpent (Quetzalcoatl) symbol of agrarian fecundity and the goddess of water (Chalchiuhtlicue). They believed in life after death, in a paradise where the blessed would sing their happiness protected by Tlaloc.

Aztec Civilization

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