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Ancient Middle America

Spring 2019 Calendar

 map: topographic
  map: Mesoamerica and Its Cultural Areas
 Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica

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Ancient Middle America Course Information

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Sunday, 23-Jun-2024 04:55:15 GMT


Aztec Map

Map of the Aztec Empire

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Ancient Civilizations:
The Aztecs

47 min., 1999, VC 3530




Aztec HomePage



Aztec Sunstone Calendar

Aztec Sunstone Calendar

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"Explores Aztec history and culture. Provides an overview of the events that shaped and destroyed the Aztec empire."

"Aztec myth prophesied that a great city would one day stand on the site where an eagle, perched on a cactus with a serpent in its mouth, was found. Today, Mexico City stands o this mythical site. Although the Aztec Empire fell on April 28, 1521, when Hernando Cortés and his army defeated Montezuma, traces of the thousand-year-old pre-Columbian empire still survive and influence world culture. This program explores Aztec culture and history, from the role of human sacrifice in the Aztec religion to their agricultural advances. Commentary by scholars, maps, and contemporary accounts provide an overview of the events that both shaped and destroyed an empire." -- Films for the Humanities and Sciences

Cortez Attacking Tenochtitlan

Cortés attacking Tenochtitlán

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About the Ancient Civilizations Series

"Whether it is the morning market in ancient Greece or the myths of the Aztec gods in pre-Columbian Mexico, this 13-part series provides an immersion in each civilization by combining precise historical overviews with detailed glimpses of everyday life. Scholars provide commentary on each culture, including such topics as the role of women, religion, education, the military, and politics, while readings from contemporary sources and 3-D architectural reconstructions allow students to virtually visit these ancient worlds. 13-part series, 46-50 minutes each."

"The Series Includes: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, The Aztecs, Ancient Britons, The Mayans, Ancient India, The Ottoman Empire, The Vikings, The Celts, The Native Americans, Samurai Japan, Ancient China."

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Terms / Concepts

  • tzompantli

    • skull rack

    • A.D. 700 - 800, Oaxaca

      Aztec tzompantli, or skull rack.

      Tzompantli, or skull rack

  • coachiqualli

    • "eagle vessels"

  • coatepantli

  • Coyolxauhqui ("Face-Painted-with-Bells")
Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, sister of Huitzilopochtli, daughter of Coatlicue.
Moon Goddess Stone:
Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, sister of Huitzilopochtli, daughter of Coatlicue.


sister of Huitzilopochtli

daughter of Coatlicue

associated with the moon

possibly the patronness of the Milky Way

  • chac mool
Chak mool, God of fire.
Chac Mool: God of fire
    • god of fire

  • cachquimitl (the women still dress "pre-Columbian")

Aztec goddess.
Aztec goddess

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  • there are 14 pre-Columbian codices

  • Codex Mendoza

    • includes information on (1) rulers, (2) tributes, and (3) Aztec education (for children)

  • "Triple Alliance"

    • Texcoco, under Nezahualcoyotl (1418 - 1472)

      • botanical garden

      • aqueduct

      • 200

  • The Pueblo San Pablito -- still doing sacrifice with quail

Tepetlaoztoc Codex, Manuscript.

Tepetlaoztoc Codex, Manuscript

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  • Aztecs

    • aka Mexica, Tenocha, Nahua

    • Nahuatl speaking

  • Toltecs

  • Chichimecs

  • Tlaxcala

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    • Tenochtitlán

      • ca. 200,000+

    • Teotihuacán

      • 6th largest city in the world at that time
        • covered more than 13 square km
        • "Street of the Dead" said to be more than 5 km long

      • ca. 120,000 people

      • ca. A.D. 650 was overrun

    • Xochimilco ("Lake of the field of Flowers")

      • "The Floating Gardens"

      • chinampa agriculture

        • artificially-constructed garden plots

        • used to get 3 crops and sometimes 4

        • maize -- tortillas, atole

        • agave (maguey)

        • pulque (agua miel, acocote)

        • flowers

    • Tlaxcala

    • Texcoco
      • Netzalcoyotl

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  • Hernando Cortés

    • trained as a lawyer in Salamanca, Spain

    • arrived in New Spain in 1519

    • 28 April 1521 the attach on Tenochtitlán began

      • Aztecs and Spaniards had opposite ideas as to what war was

      • The Indians were familiar with taking prisoners for sacrifice, but not for just killing people

  • Frey Bernadino de Sahagún

    • came to Mexico in 1539

  • Netzalcoyotl

  • Mochtezuma II

  • Quetzalcoatl

    • left Tula on 1 - Reed day, which is exactly when Cortés returned

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