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Cultures > Aztec

:: 1100 AD - 1521 AD

Cultural Background | Surviving | Living in Community | Finding Meaning in the Cosmos

Cultural Background

The Aztecs ruled an empire in middle and southern Mexico that was at its strongest during the 15th and 16th centuries (1400's and 1500's) AD. The Aztecs are thought to be decedents of hunters and gatherers from northern Mexico.

The Aztecs were farmers who developed an advanced agricultural system that allowed them to grow crops on swampy and dry lans that would normally not sustain crops. They did this by developing an advanced system of irrigation which would supply water to the crops planted in land that did not have enough water to support the crops.

The Aztecs' religious beliefs were similar to those of the Maya; they believed in many gods such as Tonatiuh, the god of the sun and Tlaloc, the god of rain, to who they prayed. The Aztecs also practices human sacrifice, offering a human heart to the sun god, for example, to win favor from the gods.

The Aztec empire collapsed when the Spanish invaded Mexico in 1519.

Time Period: 1100 AD to 1521 AD.

Location: The Aztec empire included central and southern Mexico in Central America, also known as Meso-America. Mexico is bordered by the United States on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea on the east, and
Guatemala and Belize on the south.

Geography: This area is characterized by an extraordinary diversity in topography and climate and is crossed by two major mountain chains, the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental. The Aztec civilization developed in the Valley of Mexico, wedged between high mountains and surrounded by lakes that provided fish, waterfowl, potable water and reeds for thatching and weaving. The climate was mild. The Aztecs extended for roughly 800 miles along a northwest-southeast axis.

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