Mexico: History and Its Influence


World Cultures North America Mexico: History and Its Influence
Students explore the Aztec civilization. They learn about the unique features of Tenochtitlan, the religion, and the social structure. They identify reasons for the fall of the empire, and they summarize the contributions of the Aztec civilization by writing a letter in support of an Aztec Civilization Festival.

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Overview
In this experience, students explore the Aztec civilization. They learn about the unique features of Tenochtitlan, the religion, and the social structure. They identify reasons for the fall of the empire, and they summarize the contributions of the Aztec civilization by writing a letter in support of an Aztec Civilization Festival.
 
Objectives:
  • Identify the contributions of the Aztec civilization.
  • Describe the defeat of the Aztec by the Spanish conquistadors.


Centuries before Europeans began to explore the Americas, there were native empires throughout present day Mexico, Central America, and South America. There were three major civilizations:
 
  • the Maya, who lived in southern Mexico and northern Central America from about the year 250 to 900 A.D.
  • the Aztec, who lived in central Mexico from about the year 1300 to 1521.
  • the Inca, who lived in the area of present day Ecuador and Chile at about the same time as the Aztec.




In this experience, you will learn about the Aztec empire.
 
Objectives:
  • Identify the contributions of the Aztec civilization.
  • Describe the defeat of the Aztec by the Spanish.

 




Look at the image above, showing something found at an Aztec site.


What do you think this is? What might its purpose be?

Post your answer

The image depicts an Aztec sculpture, called the sun stone or the calendar stone, probably created in the early sixteenth century. No one knows the exact purpose and meaning of the calendar stone. Historians have offered several possible interpretations.
 
  • A calendar. Some of the circles are the glyphs for the days of the month. Other symbols may represent the five ages that they believed the earth had passed through.
  • A religious utensil, used primarily as a ceremonial basin or ritual altar for gladiatorial sacrifices.
  • A geographic symbol. The four points may relate to the four corners of the earth or the cardinal points. The inner circles may express space as well as time.
  • A political statement, showing Tenochtitlan as the center of the world and therefore, as the center of authority.


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