30 Facts About Aztecs


Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521.

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The definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion ever since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early 19th century.

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Aztecs undertook a successful coronation campaign far south of Tenochtitlan against the Zapotecs in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

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Aztecs began an enlargement of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, inaugurating the new temple in 1487.

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Aztecs constructed a fortified garrison at Oztuma defending the border against the Tarascan state.

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Aztecs succeeded to the rulership after the death of Ahuitzotl.

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Aztecs began his rule in standard fashion, conducting a coronation campaign to demonstrate his skills as a leader.

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Aztecs attacked the fortified city of Nopallan in Oaxaca and subjected the adjacent region to the empire.

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Aztecs consolidated the class structure of Aztec society, by making it harder for commoners to accede to the privileged class of the pipiltin through merit in combat.

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Aztecs instituted a strict sumptuary code limiting the types of luxury goods that could be consumed by commoners.

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Aztecs was succeeded by Cuauhtemoc, the last independent Mexica tlatoani, who continued the fierce defense of Tenochtitlan.

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The Aztecs were weakened by disease, and the Spanish enlisted tens of thousands of Indian allies, especially Tlaxcalans, for the assault on Tenochtitlan.

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Aztecs's death marked the end of a tumultuous era in Aztec political history.

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Aztecs makes this distinction because in some areas minor settlements with different altepetl allegiances were interspersed.

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The hegemonic nature of the Aztec empire can be seen in the fact that generally local rulers were restored to their positions once their city-state was conquered, and the Aztecs did not generally interfere in local affairs as long as the tax payments were made and the local elites participated willingly.

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The Aztecs even invested in those areas, by maintaining a permanent military presence, installing puppet-rulers, or even moving entire populations from the center to maintain a loyal base of support.

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Aztecs further intensified agricultural production by constructing systems of artificial irrigation.

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Aztecs did not produce much metal work, but did have knowledge of basic smelting technology for gold, and they combined gold with precious stones such as jade and turquoise.

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In common with many other indigenous Mesoamerican civilizations, the Aztecs put great ritual emphasis on calendrics, and scheduled festivals, government ceremonies, and even war around key transition dates in the Aztec calendar.

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Main deities worshipped by the Aztecs were Tlaloc, a rain and storm deity; Huitzilopochtli, a solar and martial deity and the tutelary deity of the Mexica tribe; Quetzalcoatl, a wind, sky, and star deity and cultural hero; and Tezcatlipoca, a deity of the night, magic, prophecy, and fate.

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The combination of these principles allowed the Aztecs to represent the sounds of names of persons and places.

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Epigrapher Alfonso Lacadena has demonstrated that the different syllable signs used by the Aztecs almost enabled the representation of all the most frequent syllables of the Nahuatl language, but some scholars have argued that such a high degree of phoneticity was only achieved after the conquest when the Aztecs had been introduced to the principles of phonetic writing by the Spanish.

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Two important types of sculpture are unique to the Aztecs, and related to the context of ritual sacrifice: the cuauhxicalli or "eagle vessel", large stone bowls often shaped like eagles or jaguars used as a receptacle for extracted human hearts; the temalacatl, a monumental carved stone disk to which war captives were tied and sacrificed in a form of gladiatorial combat.

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An especially prized art form among the Aztecs was featherwork - the creation of intricate and colorful mosaics of feathers, and their use in garments as well as decoration on weaponry, war banners, and warrior suits.

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When Mexico became independent from Spain, a romanticized version of the Aztecs became a source of images that could be used to ground the new nation as a unique blend of European and American.

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In 17th and 18th century Europe, the Aztecs were generally described as barbaric, gruesome and culturally inferior.

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Aztecs wrote it expressly to defend Mexico's indigenous past against the slanders of contemporary writers, such as Pauw, Buffon, Raynal, and William Robertson.

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Aztecs was not directly interested in the Aztecs, but rather in proving that Mexico had been colonized by Jews.

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Aztecs's resulting work was a mixture of pro- and anti-Aztec attitudes.

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Idea of the Aztecs has captivated the imaginations of Europeans since the first encounters, and has provided many iconic symbols to Western popular culture.

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