The Aztecs Essay Research Paper An example

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The Aztecs Essay, Research Paper An example of monumental archetecture within the Aztec society is the great pyramid of Tenochtitlan. It was created by the revered speaker Montecuzoma I, who was the ruler of the Aztecs in 1466. The pyramid was not finished until the rule of Montecuzoma II, around 1508. (Carrasco, Moctezumas Mexico, Pg 49.) The pyramid was known to the Aztecs as the “icpac tlamanacali,” or The Great Pyramid. It’s base was square, and 150 yards to a side. It rose toa height of 70 yards, and had smooth sides. The staircase ascending the front was actually two staircases, one for people going up and one for people going down. The staircases were separated by an ornamental gutter for blood to flow down. The pyramid was used as an sacrificial altar on which

people were sacrificed to the gods, known to the Aztecs as the “Flowery Death.” (Jenning’s, Aztec, Pg 92.) The temporal and spiritual heart of the Aztec empire was the island capital of Tenochtitlan, and more specifically, it’s ceremonial precinct and the Great Pyramid. Crisscrossed by canals paralleled by streets, it was described by the conquistadors as “another Venice.” Like that country, the ready access to water transport made heavy commerce a reality. It is said that 200,000 canoes could be found on the lake in the early 16th century. (Coe, Atlas of Ancient America, pg 125.) It is difficult to estimate the size of the city when Cortes first arrived but it is estimated at 100,000 with the Aztec empire containing more then 10 million. (Coe, Atlas of Ancient

America, pg 128.) Unlike European provinces, Aztec cities and towns had working drinking water and waste treatment systems. An intricate plumbing system using clay pipes ran down from the mountains around Mexico valley to all of the towns and cities in the valley. As the water ran into each town or city it was the dispersed to 10 or 12 places around town were it flowed into a pool for drinking water or was piped into public baths and toilets. Only nobles had working drinking and bathing systems with running water in thier homes. The sewage system worked much like today, having human wastes carried to a collection pool were solid’s were collected, and then having liquids run off into a series of terraces which filtered the water. Solid wastes were allowed to sit in a collection

pool for about six months and then were brought to the lake gardens to be used as fertilizer. Some of the waste management practices used by the Aztecs are stil used today. (Jenning’s, Aztec, Pg 220.) Social Structure- Uey-Tlatoani Pipiltin Macehaultin Tlacotli The Aztec social structure contained four well defined classes. At the bottom of the heap were slaves and serfs, or the Tlacotli, who worked the private lands of the nobility. Next came the Macehualtin, “the fortunate,” as they were called because they were equally free of the heavy responsibility of the nobility and of the slaves liability to being basely used. They were the merchants, shopkeepers and artisans that made up the bulk of the population. The Macehualtin belonged to localized kin groups known as calpulli

or “big houses,” each of which had it’s own lands, clan leaders, and temple. (Jenning’s, Aztec, Pg 354.) After that came the hereditary nobility or Pipiltin, who supplied the top bureaucrats in the Aztec imperial system, and from whose ranks was a formed a council which advised the emperor and elected his successor from the ruling lineage. Also all of the nobility had the sound “ztin” added to the end of their name. At the very top of the ladder was the Uey-Tlatoani, or revered speaker. He had absolute control over civil affairs and it was his job to increase the size of the Aztec empire every year and if he didn’t wage enough wars within a period of time he would be impeached and replaced by the Pipiltin. (Oliphant, Atlas of the Ancient World. Pg 268) The Aztec