The Aztec Empire! Vast it was! Splendid it was! and it was surely an epitome of beauty and grandeur. The year 1519, witnessed the Aztecs emerging as one of the most powerful Mesoamerican Empires. Diversified, colorful, mysterious and eclectic. What more can be said about the glorious empire of the Aztecs.
The Geographic Extent And Population Of Aztec
The empire extended form the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf Coast and from central Mexico to the present day Republic of Guatemala. Just imagine fifty million Aztecs residing in 38 provinces in 489 varied communities. And whom did they pay their faithful allegiance? Yes, of course, Emperor Moctezuma II in Tenochtitlán, the capital city of this vast magnificent Empire.
"Me-shee-ka", that was what the Mexica Indians were generally referred to as in the empire of the Aztecs. The Mexica Indians were a dominant and courageous ethnic group who ruled from the capital. They had the power to control the Aztecs in the Valley of Mexico.
The term Aztec however describes both the inhabitants and the empire itself. Therefore, there can be absolutely no doubt about its universality. In fact, it is quite interesting for the readers to know that the American Indians of Aztec did not belong to a particular ethnic group. They were a collection of several ethnicities all having an exclusive widespread historical and cultural backdrop.
Controversy, controversy and more controversy
Several philosophers and historians opine differently as to the map and the geography of where the Aztecs dwelt in history. Irrespective of the controversy, it is generally believed that in 1111 A.D. the Aztecs left their original homeland Aztlan to come and settle in Chicomoztoc (the land of the seven caves). On the other hand, according to popular belief, Aztlan and Chicomoztoc are two names of the same empire and the island, which existed in Aztlac, and seven caves of Chicomoztoc are the two landmarks of the same piece of land.
Modern speculations in geography however prove that the actual habitat of the Aztecs lay in California, New Mexico and other places in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa. So, where does the link lie between the Aztecs and those indigenous people who spoke Uto-Aztecan languages? Among the Uto-Aztecan language-speaking population the Hopi and the Zuni Indians lived in New Mexico and the Gabrielino Indians lived in the Los Angeles Basin. Again, the Central Uto-Aztecans occupied a large portion of the Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Sonora in northwestern Mexico. The geography includes places like Papago, Opata, Yaqui, Mayo, Concho, Huichol and Tepehuán. Therefore, it can surely be stated that a linguistic association may also help us find traces of genetic relationships.
It is important to keep in mind that an empire does not only stand on concrete ingredients. Its stability mainly rests upon cultural achievements and mythological significances. The colorful culture of the Aztec Civilization comprised compulsory education and rich cultural beliefs and ideas. Human sacrifice was a part of Aztec ritual. Yes, true it is. Do you feel your hairs standing up on their ends? Believe it or not, this was definitely a way to satisfy the Almighty. This devastating component of Aztec culture was widely practiced throughout Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest.
Tenochtitlan or, alternatively, Mexico-Tenochtitlan was the capital city of the empire of the Aztecs. This city was built on an island in Lake Texcoco. In its golden times, Tenochtitlan was considered the largest city in the world and 250000 people inhabited it. In 1521, the Spanish conquistadors came, destroyed the city, and turned it into absolute ruins.
Time has witnessed the birth, popularity, decline, destruction and rebirth of the Mexican Empire. Time in form of history tells us what the Aztec Empire was.
Joseph Paige © 2006