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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Aztec Priest Holding Pyramid

The Aztecs, or the Mexicas, lived in the central valley of Mexico until just before the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. They arrived in the Mexican valley roughly about 1250 A.D. from Northern Mexico. In 1385, Tenoch, one of the Aztec chiefs, founded the city of Tenochtitlan. The sign the Aztecs were supposed to look for to find their capital was an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake, symbolism that lives on in the Mexican flag even today.

The Aztecs are an important part of our area's history -many of the Aztec languages, traditions, and ways of life are still a part of the Mexican culture. Aztec descendants still reflect the culture of their forefathers through the foods they eat (corn, beans, squash), the weaving of cloth, their market system, and their religious beliefs. The Aztec did not have a written language, but spoke Nahuatl.

The Aztecs called themselves the People of the Sun. They believed that it was their job to help the sun make its journey across the sky each day. To appease the Gods, they offered human sacrifices, believing that the sacrificial blood would feed the sun, and give life and light for another day.

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critical thinking
What parts of Aztec religion do we see in our culture today?

What other parts of Aztec life can we still see in our culture today?

Related Links:

Essay by Jane Stevenson Day, Chief Curator, Denver Museum of Natural History

The Aztecs/Mexicas

General information about the history of the Aztecs

More specific (and in-depth) historical information

Smith’s Aztec Bibliography for Students

Read More, Learn More:

Frances F. 1989. The Aztecs. Chelsea House Publishers: New York, Philadelphia.

Aztecs: Reign of Blood and Splendor. Time-Life Books: Alexandria, Virginia, 1992.