Aztec Civilization Essential Question How were both European and Native American cultures changed after European contact with the Aztecs? SS6H1a: Describe the encounter and consequences of the conflict between the Spanish and the Aztecs and the roles of Cortes and Montezuma. Timeline Incas 1200-1500 CE 1600 CE 0 Maya 300-900 CE Aztecs 1100-1521 CE Aztecs • Location: Central Mexico • Time Frame: 1100 CE to 1521 CE • Main City: Tenochtitlán (present day Mexico city) The Legend of Tenochtitlán (Based on Aztec mythology) • The Aztec tribe lived in ancient Mexico for about 400 years. For the first 200 years, the Aztecs were constantly on the move. No one wanted the Aztecs as neighbors because they practiced human sacrifice in order to please the sun god. • According to legend, the Aztec tribal god promised to show his people (the Aztecs) the place they were to settle and build a great capital city. • He told them to look for an eagle perched on a cactus on a rock with a snake in its beak. This would be the sign that they had reached the place that would be theirs. • The Aztecs found this eagle located near Lake Texcoco. They then built Tenochtitlán in either the year 1325 or 1345 (the actual date is uncertain) Have you seen this symbol before? The City of Tenochtitlan • Aztecs greatest city – had more than 200,000 people • Located on an island on Lake Texcoco • Had waterways for major streets • Causeways linked the city to the mainland • At the center was the great plaza with the great temple that was over 200 feet tall The Great Temple • Where human sacrifices and offerings to the gods took place. • The Aztecs believed that if they offered blood sacrifices to their gods, this would keep the sun alive and the world would continue. Aztec Society • The Aztecs were divided into clans (called Calpullis) which were large family groups • The clan was the basis of all Aztec society and government • Aztec children were expected to share in all the work Achievements • Writing – Used picture writing but did not develop an Alphabet • Aztec Calendar – 365 day calendar • Medicine – The doctors practiced their medicine and operations on human sacrifices and with dead bodies from wars. They got a lot of their medicine from plants. • Education – Public education for boys and girls starting at age 13 – They taught lessons in citizenship, history and tradition, religious ceremonies and arts and crafts. – Boys learned methods of warfare, girls learned singing and dancing skills Aztec Warfare • The Aztecs believed it was a religious duty to be a warrior • Used swords, bows and arrows, javelins, clubs and slings for weapons • Aztecs went to war to get tribute (what losers gave to winners) and sacrificial victims for religious ceremonies • Goal of Aztec warfare was capture, not kill • Members of losing tribe became slaves or sacrifices Cortés Conquers the Aztecs • 1519- Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortes landed in Mexico…and developed a thirst for Aztec gold! • The enemies of the Aztecs (other conquered tribes) joined forces with Cortes to take control of Tenochtitlan • Cortés and his alliance headed to Tenochtitlán with 500 soldiers and 16 horses • The Aztec ruler, Montezuma, thought Cortes was the god Quetzalcoatl and presented him with gifts The Fall of the Aztecs • Spaniards massacred many Aztecs during a religious ceremony and fighting began. • The Spanish escaped and returned with more weapons and supplies and conquered the Aztecs. What advantages did the Spanish have? • Weapons (guns and cannons) • Horses (the Native Americans were terrified of them) • Diseases (smallpox, measles, and chicken pox) What were the consequences of the conflict between the Spanish and the Aztecs? • The Spanish tore down temples and replaced them with cathedrals. • They destroyed Aztec art and books. • The forced them to become Christians. • They enslaved many Native Americans. • They spread their diseases and killed 7 million Native Americans within 50 years.