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Transcript Page 244 Saturday, February 26, 2005 12:37 PM
Se ct i on
Standards-Based Instruction
Aztec Society
Reading Preview
Standards at a Glance
Now that students have learned how the
Aztecs built an empire centered in the
valley of Mexico, they will explore Aztec
society—its class system, family life, and
religion. Students will continue to practice learning content vocabulary by
expanding knowledge of Anglo-Saxon
H-SS 7.7.2 Study the roles
of people in each society,
including class structures,
family life, warfare, religious
beliefs and practices, and
E-LA Reading 7.1.2 Use
knowledge of Greek, Latin,
and Anglo-Saxon roots
and affixes to understand
content-area vocabulary.
Reading Skill
Use Anglo-Saxon Affixes You
can use Anglo-Saxon suffixes
to understand the meaning of
a word. These suffixes often
change the original word’s
part of speech; changing a
noun into a verb, for example.
In this section, you will find
two useful Anglo-Saxon
suffixes: -dom and -ful.
Vocabulary Builder
High-Use Words
theft (thehft), p. 245
monarch (MAHN ahrk), p. 247
Key Terms and People
agrarian (uh GRAR ee uhn),
p. 244
tribute (TRIHB yoot), p. 246
prime minister (pr¯ m MIHN ihs
ter), p. 246
Section Focus Question
What were the characteristics of
Aztec civilization?
Before you begin the lesson for the day,
write the Section Focus Question on the
board. (Possible answer: Aztec civilization featured strong emperors and loosely connected
city-states, an influential religious institution,
a well-organized army, and a rigid class structure.)
Knowledge During the 1400s, the
Aztecs built a great empire centered in the Valley of Mexico.
At the same time, they also created a complex civilization and
society. In this section, you will read about Aztec life and the
role of religion and government in the Aztec Empire.
Prepare to Read
Build Background
Aztec Life
Aztec society was divided into
two main social classes: nobles
and commoners.
Review what students learned about the
Aztecs in Section 1. Have students list
what they view as the distinctive features
of the Aztecs. Have them predict what
kind of society a group of people with
these features would organize for themselves. Have them engage in a ThinkWrite-Pair-Share strategy (TE p. T39) and
write their ideas on the chalkboard.
Set a Purpose
Teaching Resources, Unit 4,
Reading Readiness Guide, p. 67
Use the Numbered Heads strategy (TE
p. T38) to call on students to share one
piece of information they already know
and one piece of information they want
to know. The students will return to
these worksheets later.
244 Chapter 9
Class and Family The Aztecs were divided into two
main classes: nobles and commoners. Nobles were a small proportion of society. They made up just 5 to 10 percent of the population. Nobles traced their ancestry to the first Aztec king. They
lived comfortably in large, two-story homes. They wore fine cotton clothes decorated with colorful designs. Nobles ate the best
food, including turkey and other meats. They also served as
government officials.
Form students into pairs or groups of
four. Distribute the Reading Readiness
Guide. Ask students to fill in the first
two columns of the chart.
Like the Incas and the Mayas, the Aztecs were mainly an
agrarian people. Most of their lives were related to farming.
They were organized in a rigid class structure that influenced
many aspects of life. They also worshiped many gods and
were governed by powerful rulers. Yet despite these common
elements, Aztec society also had many distinctive features.
244 Chapter 9 The Aztecs
Universal Access
L1 English Langauge Learners
L1 Less Proficient Readers
Aztec Marriage Distribute the worksheet
Aztec Marriage to students. As students
complete the worksheet, circulate to correct any misunderstandings and to provide help to those who need it. Have stu-
dents discuss what they have learned
before reviewing the worksheet.
Teaching Resources, Unit 4,
Aztec Marriage Worksheet, p. 70
Commoners lived more humbly. Extended families lived in
adjoining houses around a central courtyard. They wore plain
clothes woven from coarse fiber. Their diet consisted mainly of
corn, beans, and chili peppers.
At the lowest level of society were slaves who worked for
noble families. Some were commoners who had sold themselves into slavery to escape poverty or to avoid punishment
for theft or other crimes. Others had been taken captive during
war. Slaves did have certain rights. They could marry and own
property. Their children were born free. They could also purchase their freedom if they could afford it.
Despite class differences, life for most Aztecs followed similar patterns. All Aztec children attended school for at least a few
years. Boys received intensive military training. Girls learned
the arts of homemaking. Teachers were highly respected. “He
opens ears,” an Aztec wrote of a teacher.
Aztec Life
H-SS 7.7.2
Vocabulary Builder
theft (thehft) n. crime of stealing
High-Use Words Preteach the high-use
words theft and monarch, using the
strategy on TE p. 237.
Key Terms Following the instructions
on p. 7, have students create a See It–
Remember It chart for the key terms in
this section.
Activities For most commoners, life
revolved around farming or household duties. Men tended the
fields, while women worked at home.
Not all commoners were farmers, though. Some worked as
artisans, making fine craft goods for noble families. Others
were long-distance traders. They traveled the empire to find
exotic goods, such as feathers and precious stones. Both artisans and traders held respected positions in Aztec society.
How was Aztec society structured?
The copyright holder has not granted permission to display this image in
electronic format. Please see the teacher's edition of your textbook for this
Vocabulary Builder
To help students understand social
structure, use the Concept Lesson, Social
Structure, and the Concept Organizer.
Teaching Resources, Unit 4,
Concept Lesson, p. 74; Concept Organizer, p. 5
Have students read Aztec Life using the
Structured Silent Reading strategy (TE
p. T36).
Ask: Since nobles formed such a small
percentage of the population, how do
you think they kept their power? (Possible answer: They claimed to be descended
from the first Aztec king.)
Have students consider whether the
Aztec social structure reminds them of
other ancient societies. (In most societies
throughout history, a small group of wealthy
and powerful people have enjoyed most of
the material benefits.)
Have students complete the worksheet
A Historian’s View: The Aztec Family.
Ask: What was the Aztec attitude
toward education? (It was considered an
important preparation for life.)
Daily Life
These pictures depict scenes
of Aztec daily life. At left, a
father teaches his son how
to canoe, fish, and gather
firewood. At right, a mother
teaches her daughter to grind
grain and weave cloth. The
inset shows a ceramic drinking
vessel made by an Aztec
artisan. Critical Thinking:
Apply Information Based
on these images, make a
generalization about Aztec
daily life.
The copyright holder
has not granted
permission to display
this image in electronic
format. Please see the
teacher's edition of
your textbook for this
Teaching Resources, Unit 4, A
Historian’s View: The Aztec Family, p. 71
Independent Practice
Section 2
Aztec Society
History Background
Small Communities To the Aztecs, the
basic unit in society was not the nuclear
family but the neighborhood. This concept
of society is revealed in their architecture.
A group of houses would open onto a
common plaza or courtyard, which served
as a gathering place for adults and as a
play area for their children. People related
by blood or marriage tended to live together around one of these common courtyards, so that the household, or group of
households, was really an extended family
group. Groups were linked by marriage
Have students begin to fill in the Interactive Reading and Notetaking Study Guide.
Briefly model how to identify which
details to record.
Interactive Reading and Notetaking Study Guide, Chapter 9, Section 2
(Adapted version also available.)
into two classes, commoners
and nobles
Apply Information Aztec jobs were
assigned based on sex.
Chapter 9 Section 2 245 Page 246 Saturday, February 26, 2005 12:37 PM
Government and Religion
Monitor Progress
As students fill in the Notetaking Study
Guide, circulate to make sure individuals
understand what defined Aztec social
Tribute and human sacrifice
were at the core of Aztec
government and religion.
Government and
Aztec Rule The Aztecs created a strong state led by a pow-
H-SS 7.7.2
As you have read, all Aztec men were trained as warriors.
In fact, the Aztecs were dedicated to the practice of war. They
waged war on other states to win tribute, or goods paid as
taxes by conquered peoples. They also waged war to capture
prisoners for ritual sacrifice to their gods. These two motives—
tribute and human sacrifice—played important roles in Aztec
government and religion.
Have students read Government and
Religion. Remind students to look for
support of the main idea.
Ask: By what process did the Aztecs
identify their kings? (Kings were selected
by nobles from among the royal family.) Do
you think this arrangement helped or
hurt the Aztec king? Explain. (Possible
answer: It helped the king by ensuring he
had support; it weakened the king by making
him dependent on the support of the nobles.)
Ask: In what way was the military
central to the Aztec system of government? (Military officials were key advisors.
The military was the basis by which the
government obtained money and held
together the far-flung empire.)
erful king. The king was a member of the royal family but was
selected by a council of nobles. Sometimes kingship passed from
father to son, and sometimes it passed to brothers or other blood
relatives. As soon as he took power, the new king had to go to
war to prove his military skills and win tribute.
A group of five royal advisors helped
the king run the government. Four of these
advisors were military commanders. The
fifth was an official much like a modern
prime minister. A prime minister is the
chief official appointed by the ruler of a
The copyright holder
What was
has not granted
country. This official managed the day-topermission to display
operations of the government. For
this image in electronic
palace like?
70 years, a man named Tlacaelel
format. Please see the
teacher's edition of your
held this powerful position. He served varitextbook for this image.
ous kings and decided many policies. In
fact, he probably had more influence than
Fast Facts
some of the rulers he served.
Who: Moctezuma
Beneath the royal advisors came lesser
What: Aztec emperor
When: 1502–1520
officials. They included the ruling council
Why important: Moctezuma ruled the Aztec
of Tenochtitlán, along with judges, clerks,
Empire at its height.
and tax collectors. At the local level, citizens were divided into small districts,
Fast Find
called calpulli, and led by district chiefs.
How: Go online to find out how Moctezuma
Although the Aztec government was
lived and what his palace was like.
based on a strong ruler, the empire never
For: More about Moctezuma
had a true central government. Instead, it
was a loose collection of city-states conWeb Code: mxe-4092
trolled by the Aztecs but ruled by local
chiefs. The Aztecs maintained control
over the empire through the threat of military force.
246 Chapter 9 The Aztecs
Universal Access
L1 Less Proficient Readers
L1 Special Needs
Aztec Government As students read
It was a spectacular and
luxurious place.
246 Chapter 9
Aztec Rule, have them work together to
construct a poster that shows the power
structure of the Aztec government. Suggest to them that Aztec government had a
structure like that of a pyramid, with the
king at the top. Have them read to find out
who was on the next level below the king,
and who was on the next level below that.
The poster should show how the entire
society was organized. Encourage students
to illustrate the poster to make it more
visually interesting. Post their work in the
classroom, where it can serve as a study
aid for everyone.
The copyright holder has not granted permission to display this image in electronic format. Please see the teacher's edition of
your textbook for this image.
Instruction (continued)
Tribute was essential to Aztec rule. Tribute goods ranged
from clothing and military supplies to jewelry, food, and building materials. A Spanish visitor in the early 1500s wrote:
There were such vast quantities of all these things
that came to the city of Mexico that not a day
passed without the arrival of people from other
regions who brought large amounts of everything, from foodstuffs to luxury items, for the king
and the lords.
—Friar Diego Durán, The History of the Indies of New Spain
Pyramid of the Sun
Before the Aztecs arrived in
the Valley of Mexico, a great
religious center arose at
Teotihuacán. The city was
destroyed in 750, but the
Aztecs viewed it as a holy
place. Shown here is the city’s
monumental Pyramid of the
Sun and a carving from that
building. Critical Thinking:
Compare How did Aztec
religious beliefs compare with
those of the Mayas?
Religious Beliefs Tribute also flowed to the Aztec
priests and temples. Government and religion were closely
linked. Monarchs ruled with the blessing of the gods and gave
government support to religious institutions.
The Aztecs worshiped hundreds of gods. They believed that
the gods gave them life and controlled everything on Earth.
Tezcatlipoca (tehs kaht lih POH kah), or Smoking Mirror, was the
supreme, all-powerful god. Tlaloc (tlah LOHK), the god of rain,
was responsible for life-giving water and good harvests.
Quetzalcoatl (keht sahl koh AHT uhl), the plumed serpent, represented learning, culture, and civilization.
The most important Aztec god was Huitzilopochtli (weet
suh loh POHCH tlee). He brought success in battle. He also kept
the sun in the sky. But he needed human blood to remain
strong. Without human sacrifice, the Aztecs believed, Huitzilopochtli would become weak and the sun would disappear.
Vocabulary Builder
monarch (MAHN ahrk) n. king or
E-LA 7.1.2 Use AngloSaxon Affixes
Ask: In what ways were religion and
government linked in Aztec society?
(Possible answers: Government directed
tribute to priests and temples; kings ruled
with the support of religious institutions;
human sacrifice was used for religious and
political purposes.)
Ask: What does it say about the Aztecs
that their most important god was
responsible for battlefield victory?
(War was central to the Aztec way of life.)
Discuss with students the reactions of
the people who were oppressed by
Aztec rule. What does this behavior suggest about the limits of terror and force
as a means of control? (Using force and
terror has limits. Eventually, people will
resist if they are pushed too far.)
Independent Practice
Have students complete the Interactive
Reading and Notetaking Study Guide.
(Adapted version available.)
Monitor Progress
Check the Notetaking Study Guide entries
for student understanding of how Aztec
society was organized. Tell students to fill
in the last column of the Reading Readiness Guide. Ask them to evaluate whether
what they learned was what they had
expected to learn.
The suffix -ful forms an
adjective from a noun. What
does all-powerful mean?
Section 2
Aztec Society
Universal Access
L3 Advanced Readers
L3 Gifted and Talented
Read More About Friar Diego Durán
Make an Aztec God Fact Sheet As the
Friar Diego Durán was a Spanish priest
who recorded a great deal of information
about the Aztecs. Encourage students to
use library and Internet sources to learn
more about the career of Friar Diego
Durán and to report on his role in spreading knowledge about the Aztecs.
text notes, the Aztecs worshiped many
gods. Have students do outside research
on one of the gods mentioned in the text.
Have students prepare an illustrated fact
sheet about their selected god, with images
of the god and details about the god’s
powers and how the god was worshiped.
Compare Possible answers: Both the
Aztecs and the Mayas worshiped many
gods, made sacrifices to the gods, and used
Reading Skill Anyone or anything
that is all-powerful has unlimited powers.
Chapter 9 Section 2 247
The copyright holder has not granted
permission to display this image in
electronic format. Please see the
teacher's edition of your textbook for
this image.
Assess and Reteach
Assess Progress
Have students complete Check Your
Progress. Administer the Section Quiz.
Teaching Resources, Unit 4,
Section Quiz, p. 78
To further assess student understanding,
use the Progress Monitoring Transparency.
Progress Monitoring Transparencies, Chapter 9, Section 2
If students need more instruction, have
them read this section in the Interactive
Reading and Notetaking Study Guide and
complete the accompanying question.
Calendar Stone
The Aztecs used calendar
stones like this one to
determine when to sow seeds,
conduct rituals, and go to war.
Critical Thinking: Evaluate
Information How reliable is
this artifact as a source of
information about Aztec life?
Interactive Reading and
Notetaking Study Guide, Chapter 9,
Section 2 (Adapted version also available.)
Have students research more on Aztec
government. Have them write mock lessons for Aztec children explaining how the
Aztec system of government works. Students can divide up topics and give short
lectures in front of the class in pairs or
individually. Students should provide
written copies of their lessons to be combined as a booklet entitled “Lectures on
Aztec Government.”
Ritual Sacrifice As you may recall, the Mayas also performed ritual sacrifice. But the Aztecs did it on a massive scale.
They sacrificed thousands of victims every year, cutting out
their hearts and offering them to the gods. Priests conducted
sacrifice at festivals throughout the year. Like the Mayas, the
Aztecs used a sacred calendar to plan these religious events.
Human sacrifice was also a form of political control. Most
victims were prisoners captured in war. In some instances, the
Aztecs forced defeated rulers to witness the sacrifice of their
soldiers. This was done to terrify the conquered peoples and
make them easier to control. The strategy was only partly successful. Revolts were common in the Aztec Empire. Each
revolt, in turn, started a new war and led to the capture of
more victims. In this way, the Aztec cycle of war, sacrifice, and
tribute continued year after year.
What role did human sacrifice play in the Aztec Empire?
Looking Back and Ahead In this section, you have
read about Aztec society, government, and religion. In the
next section, you will read about Aztec achievements in art
and literature.
2 Check Your Progress
H-SS: 7.7.2; E-LA: Reading 7.1.2
and Critical Thinking
1. (a) Recall How did most
Aztecs make a living?
(b) Draw Conclusions
Why do you think artisans
and traders were respected
in Aztec society?
2. (a) Recall Describe the
Aztec government.
(b) Apply Information
Analyze the connection
between government and
religion in Aztec society.
Reading Skill
For: Self-test with instant help
Web Code: mxa-4092
5. When you write a research
paper, you will need to prepare a bibliography, or list
of sources that you used.
Here is the proper format
for a bibliographic entry for
a book: Author’s last name,
Author’s first name. Title of
Book. City: Publisher, Date.
Vocabulary Builder
(Pay special attention to
4. Write two definitions for
each word: agrarian, tribute,
Put the following inforprime minister. First, write a
in proper biblioformal definition for your
graphical format: The Aztecs
teacher. Second, write a defby Brian Fagan, published in
inition in everyday English
New York in 1984 by W. H.
for a classmate.
3. Use Anglo-Saxon Affixes
Read this sentence: Luxury
goods were plentiful in the
marketplace. Use what you
have learned about affixes
to explain the meaning of
248 Chapter 9 The Aztecs
Section 2 Check Your Progress
It was part of their religion
and it was also used as a form of political
Evaluate Information As a primary
source that is free of bias, it is a very
reliable source of information about Aztec
248 Chapter 9
1. (a) farming
(b) because they knew how to make
useful and beautiful things
2. (a) The government was ruled by a king
who was helped by a group of four
military advisers and a prime minister
who oversaw day-to-day operations.
(b) Monarchs supported religion and
religious leaders gave credence to the
3. There are enough luxury goods for
4. agrarian: formal, having to do with agri-
culture; informal, related to farming
tribute: formal, goods paid as taxes by
conquered peoples; informal, payments
to rulers
prime minister: formal, official who managed daily operations of government;
informal, key leader of government
5. Fagan, Brian. The Aztecs. New York:
W.H. Freeman, 1984.