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The Aztecs

  • Period: 1150 BCE to 500 BCE


    Quetzalcoatl a the Aztec god whose name literally means “feathered snake”. Depictions of a snake with bird-like characteristics have been found as early as the Olmecs (1150-500 BC). As with many gods, Quetzalcoatl had many different jobs depending on the people. Some jobs included representing the rain, the celestial water and their associated winds, becoming one of the gods of creation, and a being who could transport the gods.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1200 to Jan 1, 1230

    The Conquest

    During the early 12 century AD, the city of Tula was attacked and also destroyed. This also happened to other important Toltec structures. The Aztec were one of the many tribes that helped with the Toltec decline.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1230 to Jan 1, 1300

    The Journey

    From the beginning of the 12 century to the beginning of the 13, the Aztecs looked for someplace to settle. Near the ruins of Tula, the Aztecs established a temporary home. They moved once the god Huitzilopochtli ordered them to find a more permanent home. The place they would settle would be marked by an eagle perched on a nopal cactus with a serpent in its beak.
  • Jan 1, 1325

    The Start of Civilization

    The Start of Civilization
    Their long journey ended in 1325 AD. The elders of the group spotted the eagle, cactus, and serpent on a small island in Lake Texcoco. They built a temple, and around it, the first dwellings of a new city, Tenochtitlán, began.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1345 to Jan 1, 1521

    Human Sacrifice

    The Aztecs as “people of the sun” had to nourish Huitzilopochtli with human blood so he could take up his fight against the darkness. War was, therefore, a religious obligation that provided them prisoners to be sacrificed. During their time (1345 to 1521), they Aztecs often ripped out the still beating hearts of the prisoners.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1345 to Jan 1, 1521

    The Calendar

    The Aztec calendar was made up of two parts: a ritual cycle made up of 260 days and a civil cycle made up of 365 days. Every 52 years, the Aztecs did what is called Binding Up of the Years or the New Fire Ceremony. This is when the civil cycle and the ritual cycle were placed in the same positions relative to each other. This method, used from their rise, 1345, to their fall, 1521, was most likely developed by the Olmecs.
  • Jan 1, 1428


    The Aztec used their position on the edge of all the main territories to their advantage. This was useful when aiding the Tepanec in a war of expansion against the Toltec, Chichemec, and other neighboring people. By 1428, the Aztec ruler led the Aztecs to conquer their old allies and overlords.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1517 to Jan 1, 1518

    The Old World

    The current governor of Cuba at the time, Diego Velázquez, helped start the conquest of Mexico. In 1517 and 1518, he sent out expedition to explore the coasts of Yucatán and the Gulf of Mexico. He also commissioned Hernán Cortés to investigate the tales of wealth in the area.
  • Jan 1, 1518

    The Beginning of the End

    The Beginning of the End
    In November 1518, Cortés left Havana and Velázquez. He went to Mexico, and then freed himself from Velázquez’s grasp by founding a city called Veracruz. He also established a council that gave him the authority to conquer Mexico in the name of Charles l of Spain.
  • Jan 1, 1519


    They built aggregation systems named “floating gardens”. These systems took rich soil from the bottom of lakes and piled it in ridges between channels or ditches. This high-productivity system helped the population in the Valley of Mexico to explode to about 2,000,000 by 1519.
  • Jul 13, 1521

    New Mexico

    New Mexico
    By August 13, 1521, Cortés had taken the Aztec capital after two years. A couple of factors came into play, such as the fact that many of the conquered tribes hated the Aztecs, and the new Old World diseases that the natives were not resistant to. Cortés captured Montezuma, and this act threw the Aztecs into disorder until the death of their king.