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Aztecs

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Chitra Parikh

on 10 February 2013

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Transcript of Aztecs

Art and Architecture Aztec Society 1 Society 2 I. Aztec Art- General Overview
A. General Facts
1. Few languages had a word for “art”
2. Most called it toltecat in order to unify the meaning
3. Common people were not allowed to own pieces of art or sell pieces of art
4. Aztec art was associated with upper class or the rich and noble citizens
5. Pieces of art were generally traded
B. Themes of Aztec Art
1. Depiction of insects, birds, fish, jaguars, ducks, monkeys, snakes,
deer, dogs and animals (showed respect)
2. Most was relative to religion
3. Common theme was military or warriors Aztec Empire III. Art Analysis
A. Unique Attributes of Aztec Art
1. Most Aztec Art was Handmade (this made it more valuable)
2. Stone-workers were trained from an early age and the skills they learned were passed on from worker to worker. (This attributes to their sense of tradition.)
3. Drawings represented important events.
4. Clay was shaped by the hand, which showed perseverance.
B. “Accesories” of Aztec Art
1. Feathers were a huge part of jewelry
2. Turquoise symbolized power and it was the “color” of the Aztecs
3. Feathers were acquired from birds.
4. Feathers symbolized nobility yet humility.
5. Only two colors at a time were used for paint pots.
6. Pots that were painted with more than one color were only made for the wealthy and the emperor.
IV. Architectural Analysis
A. What did Architecture Symbolize?
1. Buildings were often intricately built because the Aztecs valued superior craftmanship.
2. Main Purpose was to honor gods (shows religious value)
B. Architecture in the City
1. Walls were built around city-states.
2. Religious pyramids were in the center of each city.
3. The religious pyramids were made so that the exterior looked like layers
and that the pyramid did not have a point at the top.
4. The flat top at the top of the pyramid was used to perform ceremonies, giving it huge importance.
C. Architecture In General
1. Aztecs became great builders through sense of experimentation. By: Chris Ciccone, Carly Swetz, Matt Williams, Evan Lazaro, and Chitra Parikh 3. Rights
a. Women didn’t have equal rights to men, but they could own or acquire property
C. Entertainment
1. Similar to modern world
a. Had relationships, shopping, music, poetry, meals, drama,
art, and other activities
D. Religion
1. Priests were significant to the Aztec society
a. Sacrificed several things to please the gods
i. Maintained religion, history, and literature of their people
-recorded in books still credited today
b. Developed two different calendars
i. 260-day religious calendar to keep accordance with important festivals and ceremonies
ii. 365-day calendar was used for everyday necessities, and keeping track of farming time
2. Honored death
a. Believed ones who sacrificed were rewarded in afterlife
E. Farming
1. Land wasn’t beneficial for farming
a. Had to overcome the issue by irrigating and fertilizing the area in which they wanted to farm Quiz Bibliography Geography Question:
How many feet above sea level was Aztec located?

Society 1 (Daily Life, Social Classes) Question:
What does telpochcalli mean in terms of Aztec schooling?

Society 2 (Government, Economy) Question:
What were the three powerful city-states?

Religion Question:
Were the Aztecs Polytheistic?

Art and Architecture Question:
Why were religious buildings in Aztec flat on top? Key: CC=Chris CS=Carly M=Matt E=Evan CP=Chitra

Aguilar-Moreno, Manuel. Famsi.org. Famsi.org, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. CP

“Ancient Aztec Art." Ancient Aztec Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. CP

"Ancient Aztec Religion." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com N.p., 2006. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

"Art." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. CP

"Aztec City Layout and Architecture." Courses.psu.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. CP

"Aztec Climate and Enviroment - The Amazing Aztecs." Aztec Climate and Environment - The Amazing Aztecs. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. CC

"Aztec culture." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. CS M

"Aztec Gods - Who's Who." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

"Aztec Sacrifices." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. E CS

"Aztec Sun God." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

Dalal, Anita. Ancient Aztec and Maya. Redding, CT: Brown Bear, 2009. Print. CC

"Geography of the Aztec World." Facts on File. Handbook to Life in the Aztec World., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. CC

"Religious Beliefs." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

Spielvogel, Jackson J., Jay McTighe, Dinah Zike, Doug Fisher, and Nancy Frey. Discovering Our Past: A History of the World Early Ages. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print. CS M

"The Aztecs." BMS Ancient Civilizations. Julia Nikolich, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. CC

"Aztec culture." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. CS M

"Aztec Gods - Who's Who." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

"Aztec Sacrifices." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. E CS

"Aztec Sun God." Aztec-history.com. Aztec-history.com, 2006. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

Dalal, Anita. Ancient Aztec and Maya. Redding, CT: Brown Bear, 2009. Print. CC

"Geography of the Aztec World." Facts on File. Handbook to Life in the Aztec World., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. CC

"Religious Beliefs." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. E

Spielvogel, Jackson J., Jay McTighe, Dinah Zike, Doug Fisher, and Nancy Frey. Discovering Our Past: A History of the World Early Ages. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print. CS M

"The Aztecs." BMS Ancient Civilizations. Julia Nikolich, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. CC I. Religion of the Aztecs
A. Basic beliefs
1. Thirteen heavens and nine hells
2. Believed in over 1,000 gods
3. They believed the sun fought darkness every night and rose to save mankind
4. Religious ceremonies took place in a Teocalli
B. Worship
1. They greatly honored their gods
2. Built temples and art for the gods
3. Hosted special holidays for the gods
C. Gods
1. Each god represented something
2. What the gods represented could be something important like the sun or moon gods or as random as beer (Tezcatzontecatl)
3. Quetzalcoatl was the creator of the humans, but not the first
D. Sun gods
1. Most important god was the sun god (s)
2. They included Tezcatlipoca (helped in creation, of the north, of time), Quetzalcóatl (creator), Tláloc (rain and water), Chalchiuhtlicue (running water and springs), Ehecatl (god of wind, aspect of Quetzalcóatl), Nanauatl (AKA Tonatiuh)(humble), Tecciztecatl (greedy), and Huitzilopochtli (god of war, warrior then sun) I. Aztec Geography
A. Lakes
1. Lakes were interconnected and layed throughout the central basin of the valley
2. Lake Zumpango, Lake Xaltocan, Lake Xochimilco, and Lake Chalco provided water to the aztecs
3. lacked a large river but it didn't affect them
4. area around lakes was mostly swamps
5. Lake Tetzcoco where Tenochtitland was located was only saltwater unlike all the
other lakes in the valley so it was hard for them to find water until later in the reign of the Aztecs
B. Mountains
1. there were many active volcanoes as well as mountains
2. these helped provide a natural barrier around the capital city of Tenochtitlan and protected them

C. Soil
1. soil was great for farming even though it was swampy and marshy

II. Climate
A. Dry Season
1. lakes water levels would lower dramtically
2. there would be very little rain for the entire dry season
3. had to rely on freshwater lakes and springs also they used the streams that came down from the mountains

B. Rainy Season
1. the lakes would sometimes overflow endangering everyone near them
2. there would be too much rain and it would be nearly impossible to farm
3. when the aztecs started making aqueducts and other such things to guide the water through and past the farms the flooding would not be as bad
4. was may to october

C) Valley of Mexico Facts
1. 7000 feet above sea level
2. rainfall amount was about 450mm in the north and up to 1000mm in the south
3. warm temperatures
4. fertile volcanic soils (great for growing corn beans and squash) II. Aztec Architecture- General Overview
A. Temple of Tojin
1. Center of City (Over 164 feet tall)
2. Used for Religious Purposes (Four-Sided Pyramids)
3. Ceremonies took place at the top
B. Materials
1. Gold and Copper were used to adorn buildings and make statues
2. Clay was most efficient and common.
3. Volcanic Rock,Green Jade and Stone were used for a small amount of buildings.
4. Most famous material was Obsidian (Volcanic Glass)
C. Famous Art and Architecture
1. Turquoise Mask of Quetzacoatl (a famous personality)
2. Turquoise Serpent Two Heads of Ttaloc
3. Temple at Tojin (Pyramid Shape)
4. Stone Carving of Tenochtitlan Eagle C. Most Common Types of Aztec Art
1. Clothes pertained to art in Aztec, especially jewelry and feathers. (Emperor never wore the same outfit twice.)
2. Paintings and Pictures usually told stories or traditions.
3. Statues and masks were also common.
4. Materials included gold, silver, clay, coral, and stone.
5. Mosaics and turquoise jewelry are some of Aztec’s “trademarks.”
D. Characteristics of Aztec Art
1. Lifelike (looked realistic, as opposed to being fake)
2. Represented people’s passion to overcome death and tragedy E. Afterlife
1. Believed in 22 layers of afterlife
2. Where one went depended on how they died
3. Honorable people (sacrificed) would “join the battle against darkness”
4. Could also be incarnated as things in nature
5. Everyone would eventually journey through the nine layers of the underworld to reach Mictlan (Asphodel)
F. Sacrifices
1. Many many people were sacrificed each year, some estimates say up to 20,000 people were sacrificed each year
2. Might have been one of the reasons for the downfall of the Aztec Empire
3. Had 18 months in a cycle of a year, and each month there would be a sacrifice
4. Some holidays included God's Feast Day and O' Nothing Days
5. Laid the person on a slab of rock, took out their heart, held the heart up to the gods, threw the body off the temple, feed the body to animals at the “zoo”, and display the head
6. Sacrificed people in many other ways
7. They sacrificed their enemies, and their own people
8. Had fights similar to gladiator fights
9. Were for religious purposes, besides that, ???


1. Capulli- a group of families that owned land

2. Set up telpochalli schools for common citizens

3. Responsible for taxes

4. In large cities it became more about placement rather then a group of families

5. This lead to diffusion and acceptance of other races





1. Leaders of capulli made city councils

2. Three powerful city-states had formed the famous Triple Alliance in central Mexico. These cities were Tenochtitlán,Texcoco, and Tlacopan.

3. Within each council would be 4 people that make up an executive council

4. Other council member included merchants, tradesmen, noblemen, carpenters, farmers and other citizens

5. The overall leader was called a tlatcani - the leader of the city

6. He controlled the city and other smaller surrounding areas

7. He was elected semi democratically mostly by the previously mentioned council

8. If need be he could be taken out of office

9. Leadership was not based on bloodline, but heredity did have a small part in it
1. Based mainly on agriculture and trade

2. They put reeds over shallow areas in the lake and planted their crops on that instead of using a complicated canal irrigation system

3. This and crop rotation showed their agricultural superiority

4. They traded with other mesoamerican cultures via rivers and the Pacific Ocean

5. Trade via ocean showed they had a sturdy means of transportation

6. Tenochtitlan was the center of trade for the Aztecs through here they got their luxury items and necessities through trade


1. As usual for an ancient civilization they did not use money instead they used cacao beans

2. They were treated as a precious substance because they were used to make chocolate B. Nobility and Leadership cont. 2. Went to school
a. Most boys went to a school near them
i.called telpochcalli which means “house of the young men”
-learned about being warriors (fighting and leadership skills), build roads, and repair canals
3. Educated to be respectful, attentive, and well behaved
-Careless children had harsh consequences
B. Families
1. Houses
a. Lived in sun dried mud brick houses
b. Two buildings in house
i. one was for eating, sleeping, and cooking
ii. the other one had a bath in it
-thought it was important to clean themselves
2. Discipline
a. Didn’t perform to fullest ability or behave meant cruel punishments
i.Parents beat their children or scratched them with thorns
ii. Some even forced their child to inhale the smoke of burning hot chili peppers
-damaged their eyes and throat by irritation F. Trade
a. Crafts, fruits, vegetables, and crops like wheat were traded
-Aztec Empire became very rich
G. Jobs
a. Merchants, farmers, craftsmen, housewives, and fishermen
-Would go to the marketplace to buy or sell various goods
II. Social Classes
A. Five Main Social Classes
1. Emperor was at top of Aztec society
2. Four classes below the emperor were:
a. Nobles
b. Commoners
i. majority of the Aztec were commoners, who
worked as merchants, farmers, or artisans
c. Unskilled workers
d. Enslaved people
i. slaves were usually treated with care
ii. slavery was not hereditary
3. Freedom lessened as one went lower in class
B. Wealthy vs. Poor
1. Wealth was available
a. Nobles and the emperor of course were generally the only wealthy citizens
i. had larger and more decorated houses
b. Everyone else was not as rich I. Daily Life
A. Education (inconsistent)
1. Schooled at home
a. Began at home until the age of 15 when they started to get jobs and become adults
i. Girls would get married or stay in the temple and work
b. Boys and girls were treated extremely different
i. Girls were educated by their mothers
-taught how to spin thread, sweep floors, and grind corn
-were trained how to take care of a family by learning how to cook and do household chores
ii. Boys learned from their fathers
-gained knowledge of how to handle a canoe, catch fish, and other skills "Ancient Aztec Government." Ancient Aztec Government. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. M II. Economy A. Family Government B. Nobility and Leadership Aztec Religion Aztec Geography I. Government A. Trade and Agriculture B. Currency Tonatuih -Lots of water
-Man-made canals bought water straight to the farms
-mountains protected city The End! Thanks for watching! Pros Cons 7,000 feet "house of young men" Yes, they believed in over 1,000 gods Ceremonies were performed at the top, making the architecture both functional and aesthetically appealing. These cities were Tenochtitlán,Texcoco, and Tlacopan. -had very little resources
-hard to find drinking water
-rainy season
-dry season
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