The Aztecs: the Lost People of Mesoamerica

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Throughout history we find many different kingdoms, civilizations and peoples and each of them are unique in their own way. By considering the varying degrees of sophistication, different lifestyles , religion and agriculture individuals can examine these peoples and come to understand their way of life and what aspects of their lifestyles made them so different . In an era of conquest and exploring the new world, Christopher Columbus discovered a land of promise and opportunity, riches and resources and perhaps most importantly gold and slaves. In the early 1500 the Spanish set out to colonize the Americas in hopes of finding similar treasures like Columbus. Among these potential colonies was the Aztec Empire of Mesoamerica. The Spanish invasion of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan began around 1519. The invasion began in February 1519 and was led by Hernán Cortés. “In November 1519, the band of 250 Spanish adventurers stood above Lake Texcoco” # gazing down on the city they wished to conquer but the Aztecs were strong people as well. At first there was no immediate clash between the Spanish and the Aztec and the Aztecs did not suspect that the Spanish were there to capture them. Montezuma II , the ruler of the Aztecs at the time, treated the Spaniards like guests and also gave them gifts. The Aztecs were sophisticated and civilized people with a unique identity. They had a rich culture and a well developed religion. They had also manipulated their surroundings to provide food for the people by utilizing the highlands and lowlands. However the Aztecs lost their identity when the Spanish conquest occurred as it changed many different aspects of the Aztec life .The Spanish Conquest severely damaged the physical and cultural environment of Tenochtitlan and the Aztecs,stripping them of their cultural and religious identity and changing the world in which they lived. By examining the structure of Tenochtitlan and the culture and religion of the Aztecs, it can be seen how drastically the Spaniards changed these aspects.

The Aztec Empire was composed of many small conquered states and city states. The Aztec religion was closely tied with the government and it was the driving force that led to the Aztec expansion and conquering of neighbouring states. “The Aztec Empire, was really a mosaic of smaller principalities that had been subdued and forced to pay tribute.” # The Aztec government was a theocracy and religion played a big part in the daily lives of the Aztecs. Closely related to the religion, the capital Tenochtitlan was built based on 4 religious directions with the heart of the city housing the leader, nobles and the temple where all sacrificial ceremonies were held. The Aztec culture, religion and city structure were all closely tied together to provide the Aztec people a unique identity. The capital of the Aztec Empire was a city called Tenochtitlan and it was located in current day mexico city . The capital was a carefully planned city. #The aztecs had used sophisticated methods of architect with big buildings, wide bridges connecting Tenochtitlan and a double water pipeline.Tenochtitlan was an artificial island built off the shore of lake Texcoco and was expanded until “it covered more than five square miles.” # The Aztecs had a well developed transportation system to connect different parts of the island with each other. The Aztecs constructed “ six major canals [that] ran through the metropolis, with many smaller ones crisscrossing the entire city, making it possible to travel virtually anywhere by boat.” # This one city housed thousands of people.“Scholars estimate that between 200,000 and 250,000 people lived in Tenochtitlan in 1500.” # When the Spanish first arrived in Tenochtitlan they were mesmerized by the architecture and buildings. Bernal Diaz, conquistador, wrote about the awe of Tenochtitlan stating when they ( him and his men) “ saw so many cities built...
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