TheAztecCivilization Petiano: Thiago Ávila Pouzada
The Aztec History Little is known of the earliest Aztecs, because they did not keep a written record. Their history was passed on by word of mouth from one generation to thenext. Legend has it that they came from an Island called Aztlán, meaning “White Place – Place of Herons”. The Aztec Civilization was born around 1320 and was extinct around 1520. It lasted for two centuries, becoming one of the most amazing civilizations the world has ever seen. Their extinction was because of the Spanish arrival in Mexico, on the 15th Century. Montezuma, the Great Aztec Ruler, thought Cortéz, the Spanish Captain, was a returning
god, and offered Aztec gold as a gift. When the Spanish saw the gold presents, they wanted to conquer the City of Tenochtitlán, capital of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish defeated the Aztecs, and the Catholics felt that it was their duty to destroy every trace of the Aztec Civilization. The few Aztecs that remain have carried on their culture today. When Cortéz arrived on Mexico, he sunk the Spanish ships, to prove his determination to conquer the Aztecs. He did not want to leave without fulfilling his objectives.
Tenoch (1325-1376); Acamapichtli (1376-1395); Huitzilíhuitl (1395-1417); Chimalpopoca (1397-1427); Itzcóatl (1427-1440); Moctezuma I (1440-1469); 7. Axayacatl (1469-1481); Ahuitzotl (1486-1502); Tízoc (1481-1486); Moctezuma II (1502-1520); Cuitláhuac (1520); Cuauhtémoc (1520-1521). The Aztec EmperorsAlong these two centuries that the Aztec Empire prospered, the Aztec people had 12 different Emperors, besides Montezuma, The Aztec Ruler.
The Aztec Territory • Green – Mayan zone of influence; • Orange – Aztec Empire.
There were hundreds of gods in Aztec Culture. The religion was extremely important in Aztec life. Each one of the gods ruled one or more human activities or aspects of nature. Those people had many agricultural gods, because their culture was based heavily on farming. Here are some of the Aztec Gods and some of their attributes: Centeotl – Corn God; Chalchiuhtlicue – Goddess ofLakes and Streams; Chantico – Goddess of Fires; Chicomecoatl – Goddess of Food and Produce and, by extension, also Goddess of Fertility; Cihuacoatyl – Goddess of Motherhood and Fertility; Coyolxauhqui – Moon Goddess; Ehecatl – God of Wind; Ixtlilton – God of Medicine, Healing, Feasting and Games; The Aztec Gods
Macuilxochitl – God of Love, Games, Beauty, Dance, Flowers, Maize and Song; • Metztli – God of Moon, Night and Farmers; • Mictlantecuhtle – God of The Dead; • Mixcoatl – God of The Hunt, and identified with the Milky Way, the stars and the heavens; • Omacatl – God of Feasting, Holidays and Happiness. The most known Aztec God is Quetzalcoatl, The Creator God, The Quetzal Bird, The Feathered Serpent.
The Aztec Culture The Aztec Civilization contained about 15 million people that lived in nearly 500 towns and cities. About 300 000 people lived in Tenochtitlán. In this famous city, they controlled the whole empire, since being responsible for taxes, famine and market trading, till the punishments for breaking any of the code of government laws. The offenders were enslaved into tedious work for a specific amount of time. If the offense happened to be minor, the law-breaker was charged with a string of fees and fines. This type of governing system is only one of many things that affected aspects of everyday life for the Aztecs.
Art: The Aztec sculptures which adorned their temples and other buildings were among the most elaborate in all of the Americas. Their purpose was to please the gods and they attempted to do that in everything they did. Many of the sculptures reflected their perception of their gods and how they interacted in their lives. The most famous surviving Aztec sculpture is the large circular Calendar Stone, which represents the Aztec universe. Education: The Mexicas, as are known the Aztec people, were especially interested in education. Boys and girls were carefully educated from birth. During the first years of life, fathers educated boys, while mothers
educatedgirls. Once family education was over, the children of the nobles and priests went to the Calmecac, and the common children went to the Tepochcalli. Boys and girls went to both, but in there they were kept separate from each other. The teachers were greatly admired. Family Life: In the context of the family, men and women played distinct roles. Aztec women married at about 16. In school boys were taught arts and crafts, and the girls were taught to cook and other necessities. Farming – Irrigation: The Aztecs made Chinampas, artificial islands to extend the crops into the swamp. Although the Chinampas seemed to float, they were anchored to
the ground by plant roots. All this helped the Aztecs to grow and abundance of corn, chili peppers, squash, tomatoes, beans, and other kinds of food. Language: The Aztecs spoke a language called Nahuatl. Metals: The Aztecs had 3 basic crafts: metal work, feather work, and music. The metal workers had no iron so they used copper, gold, and silver. That created jewelry of gold and silver. Society: The Aztec Society was divided into three classes: slaves, commoners and nobility. The children of the poor parents could be sold, usually for a certain time period. Slaves could buy back their freedom. The
slaves that escaped and reached the Royal Palace without being caught were given their freedom instantly. The commoners were those people who worked in trades and agriculture. They were the most numerous social group on the Aztec Civilization. They were given lifetime ownership of an area of land, but they were tenant farmers; they just got to use the land and never be owners. The nobilities were those people who were nobles by birth, priests and those who earned their rank. These class were the minority people, and the very highest society. The warriors, priests, nobility, truly wise teachers, most outstanding artists and the physicians were highly respected in Aztec Society.
War: The war was a very important activity, due to the aspirations of conquest. The people were completely prepared for war, since education time. The high society boys went to the schools and were prepared to become warriors, and priests and leaders as well.
The Aztec Calendar – The Sun Stone The Sun Stone is one of the most amazing attribute of the Aztec Culture. Their knowledge of math and astronomy allowed them to make one fantastic time calendar, the Aztec Calendar, also known as “The Sun Stone”. The calendar consisted of a 365 day calendar cycle and a 260 day ritual cycle. These two cycles together formed the 52 year-century, sometimes called the “Calendar Round”. The calendric year began with the first appearance of the Pleiades asterism in the east immediately before the dawn light. Every month had its name, and the days of the month were numbered from one to twenty.The days of the
last month, Nemontemi, were numbered from one to five. The box at the top of the stone contains the stone's year of creation.The solar calendar of 365 days was inseparable from the Sacred Round, or Sacred Almanac. The priests used this ritual calendar of 260 days called Tonalpohualli primarily for divinatory purposes. The method of naming the individual days consisted in the combination of twenty pictorial signs with the numbers one to thirteen. Each of the day signs also bears an association with one of the four cardinal directions. The 20 day signs are depicted in the calendar image to the right. They are arrayed in a circle surrounding the central face.The original Aztec Calendar is a 12', massive stone slab, carved in the middle of the 15th century. Many renditions of it exist and have existed through the years and throughout Mexico.The stone was discovered on December 17th, 1790, buried in the
“Zocalo”, the Main Square of Mexico City. The ancient City of Tenochtitlán was on the area where today is the Capital of Mexico, Mexico City. Here are the months, and their Patron Gods and Rituals: • Atlacacauallo (ceasing of water) – Patron Gods: Tlaloc, Chachihutlicue. Ritual: Children sacrificed to Water Gods; • Tlacaxipehualiztli (flaying of men) – Patron Gods: Xipe, Totec. Rituals: Gladiatorial sacrifice, dances by priest wearing the flayed skin of victims; • Tozoztontli (little vigil) – Patron Gods: Coatlicue, Tlaloc. Rituals: Flayed skins buried, child sacrifices; • Hueytozoztli (great vigil) – Patron Gods: Centeotl, Chicomecacoatl. Rituals: Blessing of new corn, maiden sacrificed; • Toxcatl (dryness) – Patron Gods: Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli. Rituals: Impersonators of these major gods sacrificed;
Etzalcualiztli (meal of maize & beans) – Patron God: Tlaloques. Rituals: Impersonators of water deities sacrificed by drowning, ritual bathing and dances; • Tecuilhuitontli (small feast of the lords) – Patron Gods: Huixtocihuatl, Xochipilli. Rituals: Impersonators of the gods sacrificed, ceremony of salt workers; • Hueytecuihutli (great feast of the lords) – Patron God:Xilonen. Rituals: Feast for goddess of young corn, lords offer gifts and feast for commoners; • Tlaxochimaco (birth of flowers) – Patron God: Huizilopochtli. Rituals: All the gods festooned with garlands, feasting on corn-meal cakes and turkey; • Xocotlhuetzin (fall of fruit), Hueymiccaihuitl (great feast of the dead) – Patron God: Xiuhtecuhtli. Rituals: Ceremonial pole climbing competition, Sacrifice to fire gods by roasting victims alive; • Ochpaniztli (sweeping of the roads) – Patron God: Tlazolteotl. Rituals: Sweeping of house and roads, mock combat;
Teoleco (return of the gods) – Patron God: Tezcatlipoca. Rituals: Ceremonies welcoming gods returning to earth, ceremonial drunkenness, sacrifices by fire; • Tepeihuitl (feast of the hills) – Patron God: Tlaloc. Rituals: Ceremonies for mountain rain gods, human sacrifices and ceremonial cannibalism; • Quecholli (precious feather) – Patron Gods: Mixcoatl, Camaxtli. Rituals: Ritualistic hunt following fast, sacrifice of game and ceremonial feasting; • Panquetzaliztli (raising of the banner) – Patron God: Huitzilopochtli. Rituals: Homes and fruit trees decorated with paper banners, race-procession, massive sacrifices; • Atemoztli (water decends) – Patron God: Tlaloc. Rituals: Festival honoring water gods; children and slaves sacrificed; • Tititl (stretching) – Patron God: Llamatecuhtli. Rituals: Sympathetic magic to bring rain, women beaten with straw-filled bags to make them cry;
Izcalli (resuscitation) – Patron God: Xiuhtecuhtli. Rituals: Image of god made from amaranth dough; feasting on tamales stuffed with greens; Nemontemi (empty days) – Five unlucky days; no rituals, general fasting. Tonatiuh's Face is the face of the sun, Lord of Heaven, around which takes place all daily and periodic phenomena. The crown, nose-pendant, ear-rings and necklace are magnificent, as must be the ornaments characteristic of this deity. The hair is blond, due to the golden appearance of the sun. The wrinkles on the face show age and maturity. And the tongue, stuck out is the form of an obsidian knife, indicates that the diety demands to be fed with blood and human hearts.
First Ring of the Sun Stone (from the center): Four Olin representing the Earthquake Epoch or Sun. The four epochs represented inside the square portions of this symbol correspond to the four previous epochs also called suns. Second Ring of the Sun Stone (from the center): The second ring from the center is composed of 20 named days contained in one month, also used for naming years. Each year starts on one of four of these 20 days. Here are these twenty days: Twenty Days of the Aztec Month: Snake – Coatl;Lizard – Cuetzpallin;House – Calli;Wind – Ehecatl;
Twenty Days of the Aztec Month Crocodile – Cipactli;Flower – Xochitl;Rain – Quiahuitl;Flint – Tecpatl;Movement – Ollin;Vulture – Cozcacuauhtli;Eagle – Cuauhtle;Jaguar – Ocelotl;Cane – Acatl;Herb – Malinalli;Monkey – Ozomatli;Hairless Dog – Itzquintli;Water – Atl;Rabbit – Tochtli;Deer – Mazatl;Skull – Miquiztli.
Third Ring of the Sun Stone (from the center): Sun Rays – Chalchihuite Ornaments – Splashed Blood Symbols. Outer Ring of the Sun Stone (from the center): Dedication Plate – Herbs with Buds – White Scrolls – Flame Sign – Xiucoatl's Tail.
Bibliography www.crystalinks.com/aztecs www.en.wikipedia.org