Aztecs 2 Acheivments and a Little History

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Brian Lee 4/5/2013

Ms. Suri Period: 5
The Aztec

In the ancient Americas, the Aztec, Incas, and Mayans were superior civilizations, but of those 3

the Aztec were exceptional. The Aztec represent multiple city states formed by an alliance into 1

civilization. The original “founders” of the Aztec civilization were tribal nomads known as the Mexica,

who wandered to Mexico. There they were kicked out by settlers who already called the valleys of

Mexico home, forced on to a small inhospitable island in the middle of lake Texcoco, they settled. To

settle such inhospitable land they had to create anachronistic engineering feats to acquire basic survival

requirements and expansion. The Aztec today are known for their numerous architectural feats that

make them exceptional. Not only were the Aztec phenomenal engineers they also were intelligent

mathematicians, and astronomers. Because of their highly advanced concepts of math, astronomy, and

architecture this is what truly make them anachronistic and significant.

When the Mexica were forced onto a island they were forced to think of other ways to get

a stable source of food. To solve this issue they created chinampas, or floating gardens. “Chinampas

were floating gardens built on swamps... First, canals were built through the marshes and swamps.

Then, the mud from the canals were placed on mats, which were made from weeds and straw. Then,

trees were planted at the corners. When these trees took root, they secured the chinampa firmly in

place.” (http://library.thinkquest.org/16325/y-farm.html). According to this excerpt the chinampas were

simple yet ingenious, representing the Aztec skill in architecture and adaption. The Aztec also built

magnificent temples of worship or... sacrifice, where multiple people (often criminals) were sacrificed

to appease various gods. One notable structure of worship built by the Aztec is Cholula Pyramid, also

one of the largest pyramids in the world. Technically not a pyramid but a temple, bits of it were added

by different ruling groups causing it to grow larger and larger. The temple was used to sacrifice people,

children, and perform rituals. Later it was abandoned and overgrown with plants becoming a large

mound. Later it more temples were built on top in response to a drought to regain water again. “until it

became the massive structure larger than any of the pyramids of Egypt in volume. “ (http://www.aztec-

history.com/cholula-pyramid.html). This excerpt shows how large the Cholula Pyramid was compared

to the colossal Egyptian pyramids. Overall the Aztec were wonderful architects creating beautiful and

forever standing marks of their legacy.

While the Aztec were engineering geniuses they were also mathematical geniuses. They were one of

the first to grasp the concept of the number 0, other civilization didn’t have a number to represent

nothing. They used multiple symbols to represent numbers and other mathematical figures. They used

dots to represent 1 and a bar to represent 5, rhombuses represented 10, and flags represented 20. They

also used fractions using hand, heart, and arrow symbols to represent a fraction. Using these array of

math concepts they were able to calculate area, using it for farming and building. “They tracked the

rising and setting of the sun, moon, stars and other planets by placing sets of crossed sticks along their

site line. These alignments helped layout plans for cities and buildings.”

(http://server1.lomaprieta.santacruz.k12.ca.us/MissionHill/accesshtml.cgi/u/MissionHill/athenab/assign

ments/ATHENAMW-2.html ). By tracking down the movement of astrological bodies the Aztec

planned out their cities according to the movements. This helped create improved cities and buildings

by creating more precise measuring and alignment....
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