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Aztec Civilization
Roots of the Aztec Culture
The city of Teotihuacán dominated the
Valley of Mexico from A.D. 100 to A.D. 750
 The city eventually fell to invaders, but its
culture influenced later peoples, especially
the Aztecs
 In the late 1200s, bands of nomadic people,
the ancestors of the Aztecs, migrated into
the Valley of Mexico from the north.
According to Aztec legend…
The gods had told them to search for an eagle
perched atop a cactus holding a snake in its
beak. They finally saw the sign on a swampy
island in Lake Texcoco. Once settled, the
Aztecs shifted from hunting to farming.
Slowly, they built the city of Tenochtitlán,
on the site of present-day Mexico City.
Aztec Culture
Raised corn, squash, and beans
 Built chinampas
 Chinampas: artificial islands made of earth
piled on reed mats that were anchored to the
shallow lake bed
Government and Society
Religious Beliefs
Priests performed rituals they believed
pleased the Aztec gods and prevented
droughts and other disasters
 Huitzilopochtli: chief Aztec god-the sun god
Legend of the Sun
There was no guarantee that the sun would
always win. To give the sun strength to rise
each day, the Aztecs offered human
sacrifices. Priests offered the hearts of tens of
thousands of victims to Huitzilopochtli and
other Aztec gods.