The Aztecs

Tlaloc huitzilopotchli
Tlaloc and Huitzilopchtli: the two powers embodied in the Templo Mayor at tenochtitlan: from the codex Borbonicus and the codex Magliabecchiano. The blue ribbon-like images in front of Tlaloc are raindrops and Huitzilopochtli holds a serpent-shaped spear thrower in his upraised right hand. Tlaloc is the force that brings rain and Huitzilopochtli turns the tide in battle. Both relate to many other things as well.

Aztec Basics

The name "Aztec" derives from "Aztlan" the mythological origin place of various groups of people living in central Mexico at the time of the Conquest. According to their myths the original aztecs were the tribe who left Aztlan (perhaps in the 12th century if the mythology has any historical validity). In the 16 th century groups such as the Mexica, Culhua, Tepanec, and Tenochca, all claimed descent from the original Aztecs. Historians of the 18th century began to use the name "Aztec" collectively for these people, as is still common to-day.

The central capital city of the Aztecs was Tenochtitlan founded around 1350 by the tribal chieftan Tenoch . The Tenochca were politically weak and the site of their city was an insiginficant bit of swamp. When the Spanish conquistadors saw it in 1529 it was larger and more magnificent than any city in Spain. It may have been the greatest city in the world at that time. To-day its ruins underly parts of Mexico City with the central plaza occupying part of the ancient temple precinct. One small temple can be seen in a downtown subway station and the base of the great temple, beside the cathedral, has been uncovered. The lake that once surrounded the city has almost entirely dried up.

The story of Aztec rise to imperial status in less than a century is an amazing chronical of political manouvers, alliances, intermarriage, victories, defeats, and belief in a divinely ordained destiny.


Check out the websiste of the Templo Mayor Museum in Mexico City. Here you will find a lot of material on Aztec culture.


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