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History 100 - Final Presentation
Transcript of History 100 - Final Presentation
The European Perspective on the Aztecs
Sahagun and Badianus codices and Hernandez's Survey
Badianus: 13 chapters for illnesses and injuries from head to toe, 251 varieties of plants, 185 illustrations, their use and effect, no professional bias
Sahagun: 149 varieties, extensive testing for each plant,
Hernandez: 1200 medicinal plants, botanical nomenclature is precise, and contains effects and use of each
Vegetable, mineral, and animal substances in remedies
Specialization of physicians
Extensive arsenal of remedies
How did the socio-political structure maintain warfare?
In the Aztec hierarchy, a Macehual could only move up if he joined the armed forces.
In the Calpulli, a few hundred from the households had to hold positions in the army.
In the strategic provinces, the strategic points needed to be protected by soldiers from any outisde influence.
"Here we had a clear prospect of the three causeways by which Mexico communicated with the land, and of the aqueduct of Chapultepeque, which supplied the city with the finest water. We were struck with the numbers of canoes..., loaded with provisions and merchandise, and we could now perceive, that in this great city... the houses stood separate from each other, communicating only by small drawbridges, and by boats, and that they were built with terraced tops."
-Soldier's Account of Tenochtitlan
"[The Aztecs] sacrifice their own persons, some hacking the body with knives; and they offer up to their idols all the blood which flows...
They have another custom, horrible, and abominable, and deserving punishment...
They ought not to prevent so great an evil and crime...
These peoples should be initiated and instructed in our Very Holy Catholic Faith...."
-Cortes's First Letter
Organization of the Universe
The World is divided into four quadrants, with the city of Tenochtlán at the center
Heavens= 13 ascending layers
Underworld= 9 descending layers
The forces of heaven and Earth meet at the Temple of Tenochtlán
Well-crafted and effective
Cut, crush, and puncture enemies
One-Handed and Two-Handed swords
Well-crafted and effectve
Throw projectiles such as darts and spears
Craftsmanship was exquisite and ornate
Projectile points were finely crafted
Pierced conquistador armor
Range of 46m - 74m
Incredible force and accuracy for 50m
60% more thrust than a hand-held spear
The European Perspective
Made up to 1.5m long
Finely crafted with many variations
Uniformity to increase reliability
Bows made from hickory and ash
Points inflicted large amounts of damage
Range of 90m-180m
Arrows were effective and archers were skilled
Structure of Empire
Sling stone was the most deadly
Injured heavily-armored Spanish
Slingers and archers were paired together
Ammunition wasn't primitive
Range 200m - 400m
Used in Roman Empire
Political center of the Aztec Empire
Any nearby political substates are integrated into the imperial capital's processes
Tributes flow into here
Located on the "frontier"
Has a synthetic contractual relationship with the Aztec Empire
Used to control strategic positions
Located relatively close to the imperial core
Pay tribute of specified goods regularly
Social Structure: Part One
Local Social Hierarchy
Leaders of government elected from this class and professional warriors
Royal, treated very well
Varying status based on wealth, position, and calpulli
Variety of occupations
Able to reach a high status if a good soldier
Attached to manors of a sort, working for the Pipiltan
Social Structure: Part Two
Calpulli: an organization of households that shared land
Mini-social organizations within greater states
Not a feudal system, but still has designated roles:
Council with an elected leader
Maintenence of schools and temples
Control of an army of a few hundred people
Social and Political Institutions
At the local level, takes place in marketplaces with individual merchants
At the interstate level, managed on trade routes with merchant guilds
At the national level, the states give tributes to the imperial core
Commenced for either conquering or religion
In the case of religion, to capture sacrificial victims
In the case of conquering, to resolve a dispute between states or nations
How did the socio-political structures maintain economic exchanges?
At the national level,
the strategic provinces protected trade routes, allowing trade and tribute to pass through safely
The tribute came from the calpullis.
merchant guilds handled the interstate trade.
At the local level
the merchants handled the marketplaces.
If one was a Macehaul, a merchant was as profitable and enticing as an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day.
In order to conquer lands and receive tribute or gain sacrificial victims, an empire needed soldiers.
Complex techniques used to create shields
Could stop Spanish weapons
To maintain economic exchanges, an empire needed trade routes, markets, goods, and human resources.
Different varieties of armor
Lighter and cooler than steel armor
Many individual pieces of armor
Multiple layers to each piece
Technique resembled Kevlar
Cortez labelled the Aztec Empire as not only "evil" but a variety of different derogatory claims on the different aspects of their society. The Aztec Empire, located in modern Mexico and reigning from the 1400s to 1521, provided counterexamples to his falsehoods.
Backed by cotton
Tied together with maguey fiber
Feathered edges deflect projectiles
Effective against projectile weapons and Spanish steel
Unspun cotton surrounded by cloth and stitched to leather
Trap rather than deflect
Similar technique to Kevlar
1.67m - 2.2m long
Sharper and cut better than Spanish knives
Slash and pierce
Two-handed or 0ne-handed
Over 1m long
Obsidian or flint blades jutting out from sides
Downward slashes and upward cuts
Sharp and powerful
More effective than Spanish swords
Extensive knowledge on herbal remedies
Medicine ranging from common problems to serious injuries and illnesses
Disease = divine punishment
Practices mimicked modern day treatments
Anatomical knowledge gained through sacrifice
"We fought so hard that in two hours more than three thousand men were killed. So that Your Majesty should realize how well prepared they were, even before I left my quarters they had occupied all the streets and had placed all their people at the ready, although, as we took them by surprise, they were easy to disperse." - Hernan Cortez
“They have another custom, horrible, and abominable, and deserving punishment, and which we have never before seen in any other place, and it is this, that, as often as they have anything to ask of their idols, in order that their petition may be more acceptable, they take many boys or girls, and even grown men and women, and in the presence of those idols they open their breasts, while they are alive, and take out the hearts and entrails, and burn the said entrails and hearts before the idols, offering that smoke in sacrifice to them.”
The Creation Story
Four ages preceding us; destroyed by fighting amongst the Gods
Our age was saved because Tonatiuh sacrificed himself to be the Sun
Quetzalcoatl created humans
Overview of the Aztec Religion
How you die determines your position after death
People sacrificed to Huitzilopochtlu= join God in his battle vs. darkness
People reincarnated as butterflies, birds, or eventually humans
Most people would have to journey through the Underworld
All eventually ends in darkness
Practical and spiritual importance
The Aztecs are well known for their frequent practice of human sacrifice. When the Spaniards witnessed this practice, they were filled with disgust and hatred. They believed that this was done for blood sport, and didn't understand the religious context.
Many Mesoamerican civilizations practiced sacrifice during religious ceremonies
Animal, object, human
The Aztecs are most well known because of their frequency of human sacrifice
The victim is painted with blue chalk and taken to the top of a pyramid
They would then be laid on a stone slab and a priest would cut open their chest and raise their heart towards the Sun.
The body would then be thrown onto the steps of the temple, and the heart would be placed in a sacred bowl.
Gladiatorial sacrifice, decapitation, burying alive, burning in a ritual fire
Who was Sacrificed?
Sacrifice to the Sun
Other types of sacrifice:
When did sacrifices occur?
Many warriors captured in battle
It was considered an honor to be sacrificed, and it guaranteed you a spot in heaven
Ixitplas: People chosen to be the living manifestation of God's on Earth before being sacrificed
Most performed during sacred festivals
Natural disasters and wars provoked sacrifices
The purpose of the Aztec civilization was to sustain Earth through human blood sacrifice
Offer blood to preserve the Sun
Feel in debt to the Gods; have to repay them with the greatest gift of human life
The Spaniards interpreted human sacrifice as a blood thirsty practice, when it was actually an attempt to control an unstable Universe through appeasement of the Gods
-From Cortés' letters
• The Spaniards were appalled and horrified at the sight of human sacrifice.
• They did not understand the reason for the practice, and saw it as barbaric and bloodthirsty.
• In Europe, Christians fought to end pagan and polytheistic religions, so it shocked them that these religions existed in the New World.
• Christians believed that Jesus Christ’s death was the only sacrifice necessary to sustaining the World. As this had already happened, there was no need for more sacrifices.
Focuses of the Religion
A large fear of caushing natural disasters. The Sun could stop moving, or the constant battle between light and darkness could be lost.
Huitzilopochtli, the warrior sun who fought for Tonatiuh, needed blood sacrifice in order to win the war against darkness. Anyone sacrifice would join him in his fight. The Aztecs strongly worshipped Huitzilopochtli, keeping the Sun powerful to sustain life.
The Aztec religion is also centered on the interconnection of humans, nature, and Gods.