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undiscovered world of
The Aztecs
Who were the Aztecs ?
How did they live ?
Religion & beliefs
conquest & warriors
This book was made by the pupils in years 5 and 6
of Willows Primary School, Stoke on Trent
It was made on 4 July 2012 with help from Rob Bowden.
Lifeworlds Learning
Who are the Aztecs ?
The three cities were to rule the valley of Mexico until the
Spanish army came and invaded them in the 1500‘s. They
were a warrior tribe and they continued to conquer more
land. At one point , they had taken over nearly the whole
of Mexico! Some say they that they went north and
others say they possibly discovered the south west of
the United States! They lived in huts made from adobe (a
kind of rock ) there funiture was very simple as they had
mats made out of reeds to sit or sleep on and sometimes
use as a table. The huts were usually one room.
The Aztecs lived from 6th century AD until 1525 AD when
they died out through diseases and battle. The Aztecs
moved around a lot - it took them until 1325 to settle
down in the city of Tenochtitlan in Mexico. The Aztecs
had kings and they were all from the same family for 150
years. When Aztec boys were growing up they would be
taught to fight by their fathers. Would you have liked to
live when the Aztecs were alive ?
A map showing how the Aztec empire grew over
the years and took over much of Mexico.
Finally, a small-pox epidemic infected the city of
Tenoteuzam and half the city was killed. Cortes came
into the city and destroyed it. By August 13th 1521, the
Aztec empire was ruined and Spanish rule soon spread
though out the newly gained land.
The Aztecs ruins are able to be seen today in Bloomfield,
Mexico. The ruins are old and unstable - they were
temples when the Aztecs lived in Mexico. There are
many sights of the temples all are broken, damaged
and secured (they are not able to touched). If the ruins
weren’t buried, if the Aztecs were alive today, if they
made medicine for the world, then we could cure more
diseases that kill hundreds in a day.
6th century beginning of the Aztecs.
1110-1248 Aztecs try finding somewhere to stay
They settle at Tenochtitlan
1395-1417 Second king rules
Aztecs die out through disease and war
The Aztecs started as a small travelling group of
merchants who came from a place called Aztlan, their
home city, in the 14th century.
They discovered a lake and
decided to build a city in
the middle of It. The Lake
was called Texcoco. They
Texcoco and Tlacopan are
formed an alliance with
two cities including
today part of Mexico
Texcoco and another
City - the Mexican
called Tlacopan.
Third, Cortes and his men knew they had come into
Mexico against Spanish wishes and unless they
conquered Mexico they would be severely punished
when they returned, so they were desperate.
Aztec ruins
Key dates in Aztec history
Where did they live?
Second, the Aztecs had nothing like formal military
strategy; wars were largely fought as large scale
individual combats. The Spanish also had firearms that
were superior to the Aztec weapons.
Why are they not around today?
Why are the aztecs interesting?
The Aztecs are interesting to study in many different
ways. Aztec jewellery was made with a rich variety of
materials, such as gold, silver and copper.
Mosaics were sometimes created
by placing bits of precious stone
into a background of clay or
wood. The stones they used
were jade, amethyst, opal,
moonstone, and turquoise.
what the Aztecs wore
The Aztecs wore loose fitting clothes that didn`t fully
cover their body. Aztecs clothes were made out of cotton
or a fabric made from the maguey cactus. They loved
beautiful colours.
An Aztec temple in Mexico is one of the few signs
we have left of the Aztec Empire.
The Spaniards kidnapped Montezuma (the Aztec Leader)
and eventually killed him in 1524. When the city of
Tenoteuzam (the city) fell, the remainder of Mexico fell
very rapidly.
The Spaniards defeated the Aztecs for several reasons.
First, there were too many of the surrounding peoples
with hostility towards Tenoteuzam. By using 150,000 of
these native peoples and 9,000 of his own troops, Cortez
(the Spanish leader) completely dismantled the Aztec
empire and in the process gained control of those who
were fighting for their own freedom.
The Aztecs gave us many
foods including sweetcorn,
chocolate, tacos, tomatoes
and potatoes.
How did they live?
Aztecs lived around 840 years ago in Mexico. Surprisingly,
when the Spaniards came, there were 25,000,000 Aztecs!
There are a lot of interesting, unusual and gruesome facts
to be told. Read on to find out more about the culture
and lifestyle of the Aztecs.
The ordinary Aztec children went to a school called
a telpocheli. They learned about history and religion
but also music and dance. When they were older, boys
learned to fight. Noble children went to a school called
a calmecac. They learned to read and write and made
paper from fig trees. Upper class children also studied
religion, mathematics and astrology. The Machehualtin
(literally “workers”: tradespeople, peasants and builders)
children attended school also. There they were taught
basic occupational skills, the elements of warfare, and
good citizenship. The children learned the fundamentals
of their history and religion.
One of the most famous Aztec games was called
Ullamaliztli. This was also called the Aztec ball game. This
game was very hard because it was played with a large
rubber ball. The game was also important for politics and
religion. It was one of their first games.
Patolli was a board game played by both common and
rich Aztecs alike. This game was actually played in South
America before the Aztecs came along. The name comes
from the words ‘red beans’. It was actually one of the
most common games.
food and drink
A child looks on as the speaker
is taken by his servants.
Childhood and punishments
Childhood in Aztec times was very different compared
to our time: the punishments were horrific. If they
misbehaved they could have cactus spines shoved into
their skin or, they were held over a fire containing chillies
and were forced to inhale the smoke.
However, the Aztecs
believed education
was important. Boys
learned farming and
fishing from their
fathers and girls
learned skills like
cooking and weaving
from their mothers.
Both boys and girls
attended school.
Aztec food was a rich combination of many foods that we
take for granted today. Not only is much of this rich, tasty
diet, still common in Mexico today, it’s spread around the
world. Maize, a type corn, was the best grain in the Aztec
empire: it was their main food source. It has been used
in homes for thousands of years, and it first came into
common use in Mexico. Meat was a luxury for ordinary
people in Aztec times. Aztecs obtained their meat
from both domesticated and wild animals. Cautiously,
dangerously and with lots of experience, the Aztecs
hunted animals, such as geese, ducks, dear and rabbits!
The Aztecs found
the cocoa bean and
thought of the term,
Hot Chocolate.
The Aztecs had many pastimes. They had games, music
and festivals for all to enjoy. Music and dance was one
of the most important parts of Aztec life. The most
common instruments were rattles, whistles, trumpets,
flutes and copper belles. If you were aged 12 to 15, you
were taught to dance,
sing and play musical
instruments. If plays
were performed, they
would be focused on
something from the
past, usually about their
aztec jobs
The most common jobs were farming, fighting and
cooking. Most men were involved in farming and being
warriors in the military. Most women were involved
in taking care of the home, weaving and going to
the market. There were priests, scribes, accountants,
teachers, architects, calendar keepers, mathematicians,
astronomers, doctors, street sweepers, cooks and even
police. There were some people who were long-distance
traders and many who traded things in the city.
If you showed talent in something, then often they
would train you in that specialty in a school.
Many times, sons followed their fathers in their careers
and the nobility was able to go to advanced schools that
taught higher education, like a college.
A family of Aztecs prepare
a traditional Aztec meal.
Rich people white washed their homes if they were
stone, to make them look clean, shiny and tidy. The
poor had no chimney, no windows and the floor was
usually made from dirt or stone. The walls where usually
made out of dry mud bricks. The differences are quite
Poor and rich
The rich and poor Aztecs were quite different in many
ways. The rich houses were made out of sun dried brick.
If you were very rich and wealthy, your house would be
made out of stone.
The poor farmers and common people lived in huts with
thatched roofs: furniture was limited for them. Rich
people in a higher class, wore clothes decorated with
beautiful feathers, with embroidery to show off their
status. For common people they were not allowed to
wear bright feathers and also not allowed to carry fans:
if they did they would be killed/sacrificed. Poor Aztecs
wore old fibre clothing, because they could not afford to
buy expensive, new fibre clothing.
Most people were farmers because they couldn’t afford
to buy food from the market, so they grew
food in farms like those in the picture below.
Religion & Beliefs
Five major Gods that they worship were: Ometecuhtli
and his partner Omecihuatl, the Gods of nature and
duality who are known to be the parents of a lot of
other gods too! Quetzalcoatl God of creation which has
the appearance of a feathered serpent and is seen in a
lot of statues and carvings. Huitzilopochtli the warrior
sun God. He was also one of the Gods of direction, he
was south. Xipe Totec the God of seasons, renewal and
growing things. He was also a god of direction, he was
west. Tláloc the God of rain and water, children were
sacrificed to him as their tears were meant to make it
The Aztecs had many beliefs. They worshipped
approximately 1,000 gods! They believed that the
sun fought the darkness every night, and rose to save
mankind. As a method of sacrifice, they would offer their
blood to the gods. They believed that they owed their
blood debt. The Aztecs had an 18 month cycle, and for
each of the 18 months, there was a ritual sacrifice. Also
animals would be sacrificed as well as humans.
Temples were also known as houses for the gods.
Identifying Aztec temples has been extremely tricky to
discover for centuries!
A well known Aztec temple, was the Templo Mayor
built out of stone and, covered stucco and polychrome
paints. Not only was it a famous Aztec temple, it was also
home to 2 different Aztec gods Tlaloc (the rain god), and
Huitzilopochtli (the god of war)!
Templo Mayor was a part of the sacred area of the city
of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. It was only
one of perhaps 75-80 buildings which included other
pyramids, ornamental walls, gathering places, shops and
Templo Mayor
Height: The gods: Completed:
Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc
Built of stone and covered with stucco and polychrome paint
Though human sacrifice is the most talked about, there
were actually many types of sacrifices. Animals would
be sacrificed, as well as humans. Also people would cut
themselves to offer their blood to the gods.
When a person was sacrificed, the victim would first be
painted and then placed on a slab where their heart
would be removed and held up to the sun. The body
would be thrown down the stairs of the temple.
The body would be disposed of in various ways, such
as feeding animals at the zoo or putting on display (the
heads). There were other ways that humans would be
sacrificed - shot with arrows, drowned and burned.
Killing in a fight (like the Roman gladiators) also took
Aztec gods
The Aztecs had 7 different types of Gods. These were
the Cultural Gods, Nature Gods, Gods of creation, Gods
of excess, Gods of maize and fertility, Gods of death and
the underworld and Trade Gods.
The Aztec Gods Ometecuhtli
and Omecihuatl.
Templo Mayor - one of the
most famous Aztec temples.
Aztec cosmology
Aztec temples
Aztecs temples were called Teocalli. The priests of the
Aztec religion went to these temples to worship and
pray, and make offerings to the gods to keep them
strong and in balance .
Aztec temples were built to worship the various Aztec
gods. An Aztec temple was built in the form of a steep
pyramid. There were two staircases within an Aztec
pyramid. Each staircase led to two different shrines. The
Aztecs practiced human sacrifice to honour the Aztec
gods. Human sacrifice was performed inside the temples.
The Aztecs believed that there
was an upper world that was
called the upper plane and that
there was an underworld which
they knew as Mictlan.
Also, they believed that when worriers died and women
past away in child birth, they were transformed into birds
and butterflies and followed the sun on their journey to
the sky. People who died from less great courses went
to Mictlan whist, those who drowned, went to Tlalocan.
An image showing the sacrifice
of humans on the temple steps.
Conquests & warriors
the cactus eating a snake they said that this was a sign
from the gods and goddesses saying that this is where
they should form their tribe.
The Aztecs were such a powerful civilization that they
conquered many lands because they were so warlike.
Soon after the Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico in
the A.D. 1100s, they controlled all the land in central
Mexico between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific
Ocean, all within 100 years.
Building an empire
The city of Tenochtitlan was the military power, which
led the conquest of new territory . Trading between
themselves and with people from other towns was
important part of Aztec life. They had no money, so they
exchanged goods for others of equal value. This is called
The Aztecs expanded their empire by conquering nearby
tribes. They would use their warriors to challenge
the other tribes in battle and the Aztec would send
messengers to say they must surrender. If the tribes
didn’t join them then the Aztecs would kill them and
sacrifice the survivors. The Aztec Empire eventually
stretched from The Pacific Ocean in the west to the
Atlantic Ocean in the east.
This picture represents how the
Aztecs formed as an Empire in
Mexico. They believed that if
they saw a lake, with a cactus in
middle and an eagle sitting on
The Aztecs were in many battles. One of these battles
was when they fought the Spanish army. Most people
say that the Spanish army had started it. It`s true! They
killed the famous Montezuma II, who was a great Aztec
ruler. The Spanish wanted gold and other things from the
Aztec lands. When the Spanish army came city people
were sent to spy on them and they signalled by doing
bird calls.
Aztecs went to war against the Spanish. Hernan Cortés
was at first defeated by the Aztecs with an ambush
that took the Spanish and especially Hernan Cortés by
surprise. Up to 20,000 Aztecs were killed in the battle of
Otumba. Lots of Spanish cut of the water supplies and
fell into the water and swam away, hopefully thinking
that they would live. The Aztecs eventually won by
planning an ambush while the Spanish were foolishly
stealing gold and had it cradled in their arms. Many of
them were caught sneaking away into the woods in the
dead of night.
Warrior Ranks
Aztec warriors, who were the bravest,
toughest warriors, were very strong.
They wore different uniforms
that indicated their
military rank.
The bravest, strongest
and also scariest
warriors wore Eagle
and Jaguar costumes.
The Jaguar warriors (right) had
fur made from the real thing!
Eagle warriors wore an Eagle
headdress made from the
feathers of an Eagle.
Obsidian blade used for sacrifices.
There were many other warrior ranks like Stag and
Buffalo. The key to getting higher in
the warrior ranks was to defeat and
capture warriors from
other tribes.
Some of the different uniforms of
the Aztec warrior ranks.
Death and sacrifices
Death was important to the Aztecs because, they
believed that the gods kept their civilization alive. They
believed that the heart was the power of life, which
is why they would cut it out during sacrifices. 40,000
Aztecs were killed at Tenochtitlan with a sacrifice dagger.
To be sacrificed was special, because people believed
it was a better way of life
with the gods in the afterlife.
The chosen prisoner had to
climb up a flight of almost
vertical stairs to the stag
People could be forced
warrior so they could be
to be sacrificed if they
sacrificed. Sacrifices were
were found to say
performed on a block of
anything bad about
stone at the top of the
the Aztec gods.
pyramid. The people being
sacrificed were held down by an assistant so that their
heart could be cut out whilst they were still alive! After a
sacrifice the stag warrior would play a unique handmade
wooden flute to declare that they were dead.
Aztec weapons
Each ancient Aztec
weapon was used for a
different thing. The most
well-known weapon
was the Maquahuitl. The
Maquahuitl could be
used as a club, but other
clubs were also used.
It is said that the major
Aztec weapon could chop
of the head of a horse
with one blow!
These are Aztec clubs that were
used by the Aztecs in battle.
Another common weapon was the spear. They were
extremely sharp and some of them were over 7ft long.
Aztec spears were very sharp and were known to piece
Spanish armour. They are called Topoztopilli. Warriors
used them to shave.
Some Aztec weapons were made out of Obsidian and
Flint. This included the knife used for sacrificing people.