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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 Agriculture 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 Emperor Nobles Warriors Commoners Slaves 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.