practice of removing blood to prevent illness or disease. Tenochtitlán - Long before it was present-day Mexico City, Tenochtitlán served as the seat of the Aztec empire. The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors brought it to a sudden end. Like most European empires, it was ethnically very diverse, but unlike most European empires, it was more a system of tributes than a single unitary form of government. It was the home of the Mexicas, the most powerful society in the empire Why did the Aztecs sacrifice human beings? Founding of Tenochtitlan. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact for more information and to obtain a license. The first European explorer to set foot on the land was Hernando Cortes. Tenochtitlan: Capital of the Aztec Empire (Ancient Cities of the New World) - Kindle edition by Rojas, José Luis de. Tenochtitlan was laid out symmetrically, divided into four zones covering an area of 3212 acres. You cannot download interactives. Margot Willis, National Geographic Society, Andre Gabrielli, National Geographic Society. They were allowed to govern themselves as long as they sent tribute to Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital city. Each of the four sectors had its own services, including a religious precinct, and was occupied by craftspeople like weavers, sculptors, and potters. Privacy Notice |  Aztec warriors chase Spanish invaders from Tenochtitlán (tay-nawch-teet- LAHN), their biggest city. The Mexica transformed the island using the chinampa system, creating small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds. The people of Tenochtitlan were soon exposed to diseases to which they had no immunity, devasting the population, with estimates suggesting more than 50% of the region’s population succumbed to smallpox. From the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was the heart of Aztec civilization; here the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the city of Tenochtitlan, was built upon raised islets in Lake Texcoco. Founded around 1325, it amassed a population of 400,000 within two centuries and became the capital in the late 15th century — by which point it was part of a confederacy with Tlacopán and Texoco (hence why the Aztec empire is also known as the Triple Alliance). Before establishing the city, the Aztec people are said to have come from the desert areas of northwest Mexico, such as the Sonora Desert. Tlatelolco, sister city to Tenochtitlan, had the grandest market, drawing 60,000 people to it daily. The capital of the Aztec empire was Tenochtitlan, built on a raised island in Lake Texcoco. In the same year, the capital of a future founded the Aztec empire – Tenochtitlan was founded, named after the legendary leader Tenoch (hence another name for the Aztecs – tenochca). Report broken link The largest of them was Lake Texcoco. All of these sections were interlaced together with a series of canals that allowed for easy transportation throughout the islets of Lake Texcoco. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media. If you could go back in time, what would you see? Learn more about the rich cultures and lives of these early civilizations. According to mythology, the Mexica were searching for a destined home, where “an eagle with a snake in its beak, perched on a prickly pear cactus”. Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society The chinampa system refers to. The Mexica supposedly sacrificed one of the daughters of the Culhuacan rulers, flaying her skin, on the command of their god Xipe Totec. The Spanish conquistadors, aided by an alliance of indigenous peoples, laid siege to the Aztec capital for 93 days, until the Mexica surrendered on August 13, 1521. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. The cylindrical structure is near the huge Metropolitan Cathedral built over the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, now modern day Mexico City. As Tenochtitlán’s empire grew so did its trade. Each zone contained 20 calpulli (districts), crossed by tlaxilcalli (streets) that connected to large causeways leading to the mainland. From Tenochca was derived the name of their great city, Tenochtitlán, and from Mexica came the name for the city that superseded the Aztecs capital and for the surrounding valley, which was applied later to the whole Mexican nation. At the centre of Tenochtitlan was a ceremonial complex containing public buildings, temples, and palaces, including: the Templo Mayor, which was dedicated to the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli and the Rain God Tlaloc; the temple of Quetzalcoatl; the tlachtli (ball game court) with the tzompantli or rack of skulls; the Sun Temple, which was dedicated to Tonatiuh; the Eagle’s House, which was associated with warriors and the ancient power of rulers; the platforms for the gladiatorial sacrifice; and some minor temples. 1145 17th Street NW Every Aztec city and village had its own market located near the city center. The Aztec Empire was built and maintained by force, and every single Aztec male was given military training. Basin of Mexico Before the Aztecs When the Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico, it was far from an empty place. The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico Learn about the Aztec Empire from their capital of Tenochtitlán to their fall at the hands of the conquistadors. In the theoretical framework of imperial systems posited by American historian Alexander J. Motylthe Aztec empire was an informal type of empire in that the Alliance did not claim supreme authority over its tributary provinces; it merely expected tributes to be paid. The city established by the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, grew to become the capital of their empire. The altepetl (city) was founded by the Mexica, a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, who entered the Basin of Mexico after the decline of the Toltec civilisation. Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, was founded by the Aztec or Mexica people around 1325 C.E. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan on the western shore of Lake Texcoco flourished so that the city could boast at least 200,000 inhabitants by the early 16th century CE, making it the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas. Located at the site of modern Mexico City, it was founded c. 1325 in the marshes of Lake Texcoco. Join our community of educators and receive the latest information on National Geographic's resources for you and your students. They used dams to implement irrigation techniques in the valleys. On November 8, 1521, Cortés and his 600 men come to the capital. This illustration describes how the Aztecs chose the location for Tenochtitlan. The Aztec expansion began under. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ The Aztecs did not directly rule the peoples of their empire. The capital of Tenochtitlan was divided into four even sections called campans. In just a century, the Aztec built an empire in the area now called central Mexico. The capital of the Aztec empire was. Washington, DC 20036, National Geographic Society is a 501 (c)(3) organization. It sits on a swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco in the Basin of Mexico, a strange place for any capital, ancient or modern. It’s 400 kilometers from the sea. For thousands of years, this area was populated by groups such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Toltec, and Aztec peoples. For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. The Aztec capital is built in the middle of a big lake. Why was Tenochtitlan chosen as the capital of the Aztec Empire? According to legend, the Mexica founded Tenochtitlan after leaving their homeland of Aztlan at the direction of their god, Huitzilopochtli. National Geographic Headquarters The empire … destruction or surrender of something as way of honoring or showing thanks. Cuzco is the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. Tenochtitlan was located on a swampy island in … Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service. The Aztec practice of dredging fertile muck from the lake's bottom. According to legend, the Mexica founded Tenochtitlan after leaving their homeland of Aztlan at the direction of their god, Huitzilopochtli. June 30, 1520: A fierce battle breaks out in the capital of a great empire. Mexico City is founded on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. The settlement rapidly grew into a city-state, forming part of the Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. We identified the need for a central resource offering the latest archaeological news, journals, articles and press releases. On November 8, 1521, Cortés and 600 … The city has 300,000 people. Tenochtitlan was laid out symmetrically, with four sectors separated by four causeways or canals surrounding the central area. Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. The fleeing Spanish soldiers carry … If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. The Aztec built their capital city, Tenochtitlan, on Lake Texcoco. Cortés’ expedition had arrived in Mexico in the early part of 1519, and by the end of the same year the Spanish had laid their eyes on Tenochtitlan for the first time. The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. people or groups united for a specific purpose. "An up-to-date and especially thoughtful study of the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan, delving into the many and varied issues and problems faced by any city." By around 1400 CE several small empires had formed in the Valley of Mexico and dominant amongst these were Texcoco, capital of the Acholhua region, and Azcapotzalco, capital of the Tepenec. The Spanish conquistadors, aided by an alliance of indigenous tribes and former tributary city-states, laid siege to Tenochtitlan for 93 days, until the Mexica surrendered on August 13, AD 1521, marking the beginning of Spanish hegemony in central Mexico. © 1996 - 2020 National Geographic Society. artwork usually made by a person not formally trained as an artist. The Aztecs began to build the canals and dikes necessary for their form of agriculture and to control water levels. After a three-month siege, Spanish forces under Hernán Cortés capture Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire. The Aztec Empire was an example of an empire that ruled by indirect means. It was located on an island in Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The structure is now located in the area of the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan in the historic district of modern-day Mexico City, The Telegraph reported. HeritageDaily is a dedicated, independent publisher of the latest archaeology and multi-discipline news from across the academic community. characteristic to or of a specific place. Adjacent to Tenochtitlan, a dissident group also founded the altepetl of Mexico-Tlatelolco (“Place of the Spherical Earth Mound”) with its own dynastic lineage. Atop the single complex were two temples, one for Tlaloc, the god of rain, and one for Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. Cortés is very surprised. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its altitude is around 3,300 m (10,800 ft.). Cortés wants to go there. HeritageDaily is an independent online magazine for archaeological and associated disciplines, dedicated to the heritage and historical sector. The Templo Mayor precinct was the location in which the Aztec practiced both bloodletting (offering one’s own blood) and human sacrifice. Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, was founded by the Aztec or Mexica people around 1325 C.E. Commoner housing was usually built of reeds or wood, while noble houses and religious sites were constructed from stone. Header Image – Painting of Tenochtitlan Ceremonial Center – Image Credit : Gary Todd – Public Domain. When the conquistadors arrived in Tenochtitlan, it was one of the largest cities in the world. The time between the Spanish landfall on the Mexican coast April 22, 1519, and the surrender of Tenochtitlán on August 13, 1521 makes a fantastic story. All rights reserved. It was the capital city of the Aztec empire. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource. Huitzilopochtli directed them to build where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus, eating a snake. It has been estimated that during that period, only a handful of cities could matc… When they saw this exact scene on an island (located in what was once Lake Texcoco), they interpreted it as a sign from their god and founded Tenochtitlan on that island. Aguilar-Moreno writes that a pivotal moment in the city’s economic history was its capture of the nearby city of Tlatelolco in 1474. These inhabitants were divided into several social strata. A great deal of Tenochtitlan was destroyed in the fighting, or was looted, burned, or destroyed after the surrender. There are millions of lakes in the world. Tenochtitlan was the capital city and center of the Aztec Empire. The center of the city was known as the Templo Mayor. This led to the Culhuacan attacking the Mexica, driving them to the refuge of an infertile island “among the stone-prickly pear cactus fruit”, where they founded their new city in the year “ōme calli” around AD 1325 to 1345. Tenochtitlan was the capital of the Aztec civilisation, situated on a raised islet in the western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco, which is now the historic part of present-day Mexico City. The capital is 400 kilometers from the sea. She or he will best know the preferred format. Huitzilopochtli directed them to build where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus, eating a snake. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited. Where was it located? It is a major tourist destination and receives almost a million visitors a year since the Aztec/American economic blockade was interrupted. Cortés men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor. Mexican archaeologists uncover facade of Aztec skull tower in capital Back to video The tower, approximately five meters (16.4 feet) in diameter, was first discovered five years ago. Tenochtitlan would emerge as the dominant power and the de facto rulers of the alliance, conquering adjacent city-states and creating an empire that relied on an imperial tribute system. It contained massive buildings, and it was known for its temples, along with it being a center of power and wealth. Modern Mexico City is built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. The emperor was the supreme commander of the armed forces. Built on two islands, the area was extended using chinampas—small, artificial islands created above the waterline that were later consolidated. Anthropology, Archaeology, Social Studies, Ancient Civilizations, World History, Storytelling, This illustration describes how the Aztecs chose the location for Tenochtitlan. Terms of Service |  The leader of the conquistadors, Hernan Cortés, began the construction of what is now known as Mexico City among the ruins. The Aztec region of Mesoamerica, called Anáhuac, contained a group of five connected lakes. The city is very big. artificial islands created above the waterline. The capital was founded in 1325 during the heyday of the Aztec Civilisation and remained the capital of the empire until it was finally captured by the Spanish invaders in 1521. The Aztec king welcomes all the men. Sustainability Policy |  By the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in AD 1519, the city was at its apex, with an estimated population of between 200,000–400,000 inhabitants. Lake Texcoco was ultimately drained, and much of Mexico City rests in the lake basin. area immediately surrounding a building and connected to its purpose. Underneath the modern streets are the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the site where the Mexica settled. Tenochtitlan eventually reached an area of more than 13 square kilometers (five square miles). It formed a confederacy with Texcoco and Tlacopán and was the Aztec capital by the late 15th century. Cultural traits that define the region include the domestication of maize, beans, avocado, and vanilla, and a common architectural style. The fall of Tenochtitlan took place about two years following Hernán Cortés’ arrival in Aztec territory. Krampus – The Half-Goat, Half-Demon Devil of Christmas, San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán – The First Olmec Centre. Within each calpulli was a central tiyanquiztli (marketplace), along with the various dwellings and places of industry for weavers, sculptors, and potters. These two empires came face to face in 1428 CE with the Tepanec War. Aztec – The Aztec empire … By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Mexica had formed a triple alliance with. Tenochtitlán, located in the heart of what is now Mexico City, was the largest city and capital of the Aztec Empire. a barrier, usually a natural or artificial wall used to regulate water levels. Fortunately, the site was a strong, strategic area with good sources of food and clean water. They also implemented a … The capital city of the Aztec Empire was Tenochtitlan and was first established in 1325 in the Valley of Mexico. The Azcapotzalco forces were defeated by an alliance of Texcoco, Tenochtitlan (the capital of the Mexica) and several other smaller cities. Texcoco and Tlacopan. A lake is a body of water that is surrounded by land. New sections of the tower at the capital’s Templo Mayor Aztec site include 119 skulls of men, women and children Archaeologists have unearthed new sections of an Aztec … It was founded in 1325 and served as the capital until the Aztecs were conquered by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in 1520. At the top were local rulers (teteuhctin), then came nobles (pipiltin), commoners (macehualtin), serfs (mayeque), and finally slaves (tlacohtin). Tenochtitlan. The historic region of Mesoamerica comprises the modern day countries of northern Costa Rica,  Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and central to southern Mexico. The image of an eagle eating a snake atop a prickly pear cactus can also be seen on the modern day Mexican flag.Â. Agriculture played a large part in the economy and society of the Aztecs. Today, Mexico City is still one of the largest cities in the world, despite its unusual setting.