Aztec Empire Turning Points

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One of the greatest and most advanced early civilizations is argued to be the Aztecs. From the 12th century to the 15th, the Aztecs had many achievements that are still very significant in today’s society. The Aztec empire was truly a spectacular civilization that to this day is still not completely understood. The people who became part of the great empire were originally nomads whose main focus was to hunt and gather. As their civilization began to expand they had to adapt to an agricultural lifestyle. They built extraordinary pyramids and even built artificial islands to add more land for the citizens and crop growers. There are two turning points in Aztec civilization. One turning point is when they truly became a great society through…show more content…
The main reason the Aztecs built such amazing structures was to honor their gods. During this time period the resources for building were extremely limited making the pyramids a magnificent achievement that to this day baffles historians. They used simple tools, and had barely any knowledge on how to build them. On top of these extraordinary projects the level of detail was simply spectacular. “The inside walls were ornamented with either sculpture or painted… Blocks of stone which they carved were used to make a mosaic of intricate geometric design to decorate their temples.” (Aztec Architecture and Building) They didn’t just build these pyramids they dedicated so much effort into making them also look aesthetically respectable. The pyramids weren’t the only thing that was simply amazing. It got to a point where they needed to expand their land so they began building artificial islands. These are where most of the people lived and grew crops. What amazes me about them is the fact that they had no waste, everything had a use. “The most valuable fertilizer used on the chinampas was human excrement. With other uses, such as for tanning leather, the excrement was so valued that the city had a network of public latrines from which it was collected and eventually sold at the city’s main market.” (A Zero Waste Society) Their odd and…show more content…
Their downfall began with the Spanish conquest. “When the Spaniards arrived in Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the great Aztec Empire, they were deeply impressed by the beauty, cleanliness and order of the city… it is said to have been one of the largest metropolises in the world.” (Tenochtitlan) The leader of this conquest was Hernán Cortés, and their goal was to take down the great Aztec empire. Cortés allied with the Aztec’s enemies and eventually turned on them as well. Cortés sent a letter explaining the Aztecs civilization, their merchants, way of life, and gave King Charles V updates on their attack. “In regard to the domestic appointments of Moctezuma, and the wonderful grandeur and state that he maintains, there is so much to be told, that I assure your Highness I know not where to begin my relation.” (Cortes Letter) Upon their arrival Montezuma (The Aztec leader) greeted them with gifts and gold, but unfortunately Cortés took this as a strategy to weaken the empire and took him hostage. The Spanish were outnumbered but did receive reinforcements over time. The Spanish had to retreat but one of the most lethal weapons was disease that had already been passed on to the Aztecs. Smallpox with no treatment or prevention swept through the Aztec population. This killed their army leaders and left them weak to attack. Cortés took this as an advantage and in his final attack along with Aztec enemies he

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