The Aztec Civilization

The Aztec civilization created an empire in central Mexico between the 14th and 16th century. This empire was destroyed by the Spanish conquerors and most of their civilization was lost. Their history has to be depicted with blood sacrifices, wars, a

During the late 13th century, Aztec settled on a small island on Texcoco Lake. They started to learn the knowledge of other cultures that lived there previously. Aztecs mercenary spirit caught up and expanded soon. Aztecs warriors used to be for rent to take part at the many tribal wars that occurred. The Aztec influence and control over every civilization covered from central Mexico to the current territories of Central America.

The Aztec civilization had trade routes covering their area of influence. They were also skilled builders and their capital, Tenochtitlan, housed more than 120,000 inhabitants at its peak. Including the surrounding area of the lake and the small inlets, many historians believe the population was over 500,000 inhabitants, which makes it the biggest city in the world at the end of the 15th century.

The Aztec were constantly at war with their neighbors to satisfy their need for expansion and to capture prisoners. Those were used as slaves and for human sacrifices. The Aztec were the civilization who took the sacrifice to new heights. For the blessing of the Great Pyramid or "Templo Mayor" of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs reported that they sacrificed about 80,000 prisoners over the course of four days.

In 1376, Aztecs named Acamapichtli as their first emperor or "tlatoani" after the migration from Aztlan started. Acamapichtli was a man who was related to the late rulers of Culhuacan. His blood links allegedly extended to Quetzalcoatl, the old Toltec ruler who had been worshiped by most Mesoamerican cultures. By these means, Aztecs could be seen as related to Toltecs. Later, Aztecs started alliances with powerful neighbors such as Texcoco and Tacuba, creating what was called the Triple Alliance.

In 1521 the Spanish, led by Hernan Cortez, defeated the Aztecs and occupied Tenochtitlan. Many reasons for the fall of the empire have to be taken into account, but smallpox, which was brought by the Spanish, was certainly one of the most relevant. It is estimated that the indigenous population before the conquest was 15 million people; by 1550, the estimated population was 4 million and by 1581, it decreased until less than 2 million.

Most of the buildings in Tenochtitlan were destroyed by the Spanish, but you can still visit the Great Pyramid or "Templo Mayor" in Mexico city, which rose 197 feet. Several small temples can be seen around and a very interesting museum should be visit there.