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Transcript of Aztec Journal
Entry # 1: Food
Spy trip, Day 1, 1500
I am a true born Tlaxacalan. I was sent away from my tribe for a month, to come and spy on the famous Aztec tribe. I am super excited! I am worried about being alone and away from my family. I hope things will be okay. In order to blend in with the others I, have changed my name in to Izel, a wonderful name meaning unique. I hope no one will find out who I really am.
Today was a long and tiring day. In the morning, I was trying to get to the beautiful city of Tenochtitlan, when on my way, I saw some people eating their late morning meal. After working for several hours, these commoners just ate a plain simple meal. If I were in their shoes, I would have been starving by now! They were eating a maize (corn) porridge, which they called atole. Some people added peppers for seasoning, while I saw some others adding sweet honey. It all smelled so good! Early in the morning, women would also start to make corn tortillas. I also saw very few people having some hot chocolate. In the middle of the day, they had their tortillas, which they had been preparing throughout the day. Along with this, I saw from the tree I was hiding behind that, they were also eating maize cakes, boiled beans, or some people had tamales. With this they also had a pepper tomato sauce. I stayed for the whole day, but I noticed that some families only had two meals. I only saw a few people have a corn drink with sage before bed, as a third meal. From today I noticed that the Aztecs were mostly vegetarians. I did ask someone though about if they ever did eat meat. I told him that it was important that I knew. He said that he would be happy to tell be, and that his name was Tototl. I learned from him that they only had meat on special occasions. Some families would raise turkeys and hairless dogs to eat later. Even his family had some. Other families liked to hunt animals like rabbits and pigeons. Tototl also said that the farmers grew some crops like: red peppers, tomatoes, sage, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, and avocados. Sometimes when the crops were not doing well, they had to catch water creatures, like algae and make cakes. While Tototl was a commoner, he said that the wealthy ate different foods. They got to eat many foods like ants, and lizards. They also got to have hot chocolate, made from cocoa, and eat pineapples, crabs, and many other foods as well. After, I thanked Tototl, and left back to my small hut, where I was hiding. I learned so much today! I was really happy. Maybe this trip would be really fun after all. I am so tired. I better get some rest before tomorrow.
Entry # 2: Crime and Punishment
Spy trip, Day 5, 1500
For the past few days I have just been looking around, and watching how life is here in the Aztec Empire, but today I had a real adventure, and learned some really valuable information. Today I learned about the crime and punishments. To learn about this, and bring it to my people, I had to go towards the city of, Tenochtitlan. I learned that whenever someone did something bad, that it was god’s plans. There are a group of elders who make the decisions on whether some will be punished or not, and what their punishment will be. I was wondering when I got there, exactly how the judges based their decisions, so I decided to ask someone over there. The lady told me that their decisions were based on religious beliefs, business, marriage, family, and personal behavior. There were many different punishments. One of the punishments was a death sentence. There were many ways this could be done. There are no Aztec jails in this empire, but they do have cages which people have died in because of lack of food or water. After, I looked at my watch and realized that it was starting to get late, and I had not even found out half of the information I needed yet. I decided to work super fast. It was a long walk back to my hut, and I did not want to walk in the dark. I found out that other people were drowned in swamps, skinned, or buried. They also had a special building for making these decisions. After finishing taking my notes, I quickly ran on causeways, and asked for directions towards the hills. I quickly got home, just before the sun was about to set. I was really happy there were causeways there to help my get to my hut quickly. I was really sleepy, but just before I slept; I decided to look at all of my notes one more time.
Entry # 3: Markets
Spy trip, Day 7, 1500
Today I decided that I would just go to the market and get a few things I would need for the next few days. I thought that today I would not really see anything new, but it turns out there were actually a lot of new things to learn at the market. It was a really good thing I had brought my notebook with me just in case. The large, outdoor market looked like a really nice place to me. It was shaped like a large square. Outside a guard told me that the market was open 5-7 days a week. Most of the markets were located near a temple. So as I walked into the market, I saw a huge, beautiful temple. As I walked in I saw so many things being sold! There were daily necessary items, building supplies, slaves, and much more too. Every town had their own specialty items to sell. Jewels and ceramics were sold in special market places. At every single market there were guards watching and protecting the market to make sure that no one stole anything. The money that was used here was like nothing I had ever seen before. The Aztecs used cocoa beans and cloth. A warrior’s costume I saw today was worth 60 cotton cloaks! Some people also made fake money. Many people brought goods from faraway places. Some of the items and goods they get are: jade, and quetzal feathers. There is also a small court in the market where three judges will make decisions if there is a problem. Some people just came to the market to meet friends, eat, and look at all of the wonderful goods. When I was coming home, my hands were full of all of the goods I got from the market. Some of the items I really needed, but others, I just had to buy. After a long day at the wonderful outdoor market, I think I am going to have some of the corn drink, and the look at all of the things I got from the market again.
Entry # 4: Recreation
Spy trip, Day 10, 1500
It has already been 10 days since I have come to the Aztec empire. I am having such a great time, but I do deeply miss my family. I hope they are all fine. Today I was kind of tired, so I decided to see what the Aztecs did for relaxation, and just for fun! It was very enjoyable, and I had a great time. I am still surprised that no one has discovered that I am not a true Aztec, even though I wish I was. Today I saw what a small city did during their free time (recreation). They would make music, play ball, and play board games. The way they made music was from some instruments. These instruments were flutes, drums, and they also used their voice. I listened to some people playing instruments, and singing for a while. It looked like everyone was having a lot of fun. I think all of these people really cherish their free moments and days when they do not have as much work. Others were playing a game called, Ollamaliztli. This game was their main entertainment. They had large courts, and a rubber ball. To play board games, they used mats, beans, dice, and boards with rubber designs. They also liked to dance, and nobles enjoyed hunting. I did see a lot of people dancing when music was played. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. I did try to copy a few steps, but I was not that good at it. Another game was called, patolli. This game had a cross-shaped board, with squares symbolizing the calendar. I saw a group of people throwing white beans with holes on them, to determine how many spaces they would have to move. Then they moved their colored stone that amount of spaces. You would win when you went around the board five times. All of the social classes that I saw today were playing this game. I did see some nobles however playing another game called, tlachtli. This game was watched by many others, not just me. Many people I saw were betting on which team would win. People who lost all of their wealth were selling themselves into slavery. This game was considered religious, so the courts were built near important temples. The court was shaped like the letter I, and there were rings on both of the walls. The teams were supposed to get the ball in through the ring without using their hands. It looked very dangerous and scary to me. Many people were cheering. I did not get to see the winner, because I left early. It was a super long walk home, and later many people would be leaving, and it would be harder to get to my hut. As soon as I went home, I ate my tortilla I saved from the morning. And tried to do some of the things I saw the Aztecs do, like sing. After, I was so tired and excited, that I just went to sleep.
Entry # 5: Weaving
Spy trip, Day 14, 1500
The other day at the market, I saw a beautiful woven mat. This got me interested on how the Aztecs, were such skilled weavers. Today I went to a small village where I saw some ladies weaving. They told me that all good weavers were said to be blessed by god. All girls learned how to weave from an early age. They were taught by others who already knew how to weave. The work seemed to be effortless to everyone, but I knew that it was probably hard at first. They used thread, cotton, and agave. The materials were then turned into cloth. Agave was mostly used by the lower classes, and cotton was mostly for the higher classes. They made many items from weaving like: baskets, mats, clothes, and pouches. Their weaving pieces were very intricate, and had many textures, and patterns. They got the colors from several plants close by. They got the colors yellow, green, and red from the cactus plant. On many of their weaving art pieces, they had animals, and other pictures of plants, like the cactus. I did try to weave with the help of someone, but it was very difficult. I tried several times until I finally got the technique right. When I get back to my tribe I will definitely have to teach them this. We can make many things with weaving. To weave the Aztecs use a tool called a loom. The loom has strings, which you can weave on; you can also use two sticks to help you. Many of the people I saw today said that they weave every day, while others said that they weave only a few times a week. After weaving, I decided to go back to my hut. I had brought some of the materials with me, so I could weave later. I decided to go for a walk. I saw many of the plants which were used for adding color to the weaving cloth. Then I came back inside and went to sleep.
Entry # 6: Clothing
Spy trip, Day 19, 1500
Today I learned about the national clothing here in the Aztec civilization. There was something special about today. Everyone was dressed differently for some occasion, I did not know. This made me want to know more about their clothing. The national dress for men is made from loin cloth. The fabric is wrapped around their waist, and on the legs. It also has a lot of embroidery. This is their daily clothing, on special occasions they might wear something different. Nobles and Warriors could wear decorated cloaks, and their daily uniforms. Most of the men had long hair which they would leave open. Only some soldiers were only allowed to tie their hair after doing some of their responsibilities. I decided to go for a walk in the afternoon to look at all of the chinampas, with plants growing on them, on my way I saw many ladies with colored yellow skin. I asked one of them why they had to do this, and she said that it was the only way that they would be considered clean, and beautiful. She also told me that the daily clothes that they wore were a white blouse, and a long skirt. I think being very clean is a big part of this culture. They take baths at least two times a day, and all of the water they get is clean. They seem to be getting their water from aqueducts. The only way for them to be considered beautiful, is if they have bathed. This is a good thing I believe, because they will not get any germs and bacteria. I also do think that sometimes their immunity system will not be that strong if they are too careful. After I went to the village, I went to see the chinampas. They were very pretty, and a good use of space. They were like small floating vegetable gardens. After, I walked back home, and had my maize drink with sage, and went to sleep, thinking about all of the things I had learned.
Entry # 7: Education
Spy trip, Day 27, 1500
Today I thought to myself, I am educating my tribe on the Aztecs, but how do the Aztecs, educate other Aztecs? I went to the schools today. I was really excited to see how they learn here in this land. I ate my morning meal, and then I was off. I went to one of the two different schools, the Monasteries. This school is run by priests, and is for the sons of nobles. In this school, I was disguised as a student, in case someone saw me. In this school the sons were taught warfare, singing, dancing, and much more. I thought everyone would be nice here, but I was wrong. Everyone had to be well behaved or the priests were very strict. Sometimes in between the lessons the children had to do hard work like clean, and carry items to the classroom. If some of the children wanted to be priests they were trained to be one. Everyone had to learn the same subjects, but depending on what you wanted to be when you grew up you had to take extra classes. I did manage to sneak into a math class. A really good thing was no one knew who I really was. The class was really informative and fun. After, I quickly changed my disguise and went to the second school, the commoner school called a, Telpochcalli. Here the priests were nice, and less harsh on the children. The students were allowed to go home sometimes as well. They were trained to be good citizens and warriors. In this school they learned about religion and other basic subjects. After going to this school, I went to a nearby village. Hear I saw that all of the girls were being taught by their mothers. They were all taught household work, like: cooking, cleaning, and weaving. After, learning about how the Aztec children learn, I concluded one thing was same throughout all of the children. They all respected their parents and elders, or they would be punished. I came back home to my hut, and ate by evening meal. I went for a walk through the lands, and near the lake water. I came back how and slept, dreaming about how my life would have been if I were an Aztec child going to school.
Entry # 8: Sacrifice
Spy trip, Day 30, 1500
Today is my last day here with the Aztecs! I am so sad, the time passed by so quickly! I started to clean things up in the morning. After I ate my morning meal, and head off for my last adventure, to see Human sacrifice. This is a very important part of their culture, along with the sun. These are very special to them. They believed that blood was very important for all of the gods. I went towards the temple and stone where most of the sacrifices were made. There I talked to priests and learned more about this important aspect of their culture. They told me that when someone was sacrificed it meant they would become like god. There are several ways to be sacrificed. You could be shot or burned. It was a very holy process, and it had to be done in a particular way that only the priests knew. Another way sacrifice was given was when; the heart was taken out of someone’s body. The priest told me that they performed many practices and rituals. There were different types of death for each god on each day. They also believed that the universe needed blood to survive. Sometimes the priests also had to pierce themselves with cactus spikes to offer blood. They would also sometimes pour the blood into the holy river. They offered people from wars, misbehaved people as a punishment, and many others. I thought it was kind of scary so I left immediately after thanking the priest for his time. I went back to my hut and cleaned out everything. I was both happy and sad. I was happy because I could share what I knew with everyone and see my family. I was sad because I would have to leave the place I spent a very enjoyable month in. I was no longer Izel, my Aztec name. I was the same person I came here as. I quickly gathered everything and ran back to my village through the forest and a few bushes. I was back home and everyone was there waiting to hear everything I had learned, and the information I brought. I would tell them tomorrow, today I was just too tired.
End of Presentation!
Thank you for watching!
End of my Aztec Adventure!
Aztec Journal: By Ankita Janakiraman, AM Core
Corn: An important crop for the Aztecs
Tamales: These might have been eaten in the middle of the day.
Rabbits: These animals were sometimes hunted, to eat.
Aztec Courthouse: This is where some of the decisions
or punishments were made.
Swamps: Some people could have been drowned in the swamps.
Group of Elders: They made the decisions.
This is an outdoor market.
Cocoa beans: These were used as a type of money.
Quetzal feathers: These items were sometimes brought from far away places to sell.
They sometimes made music from flutes.
Patolli: This is a board game that the Aztecs played.
The Nobles enjoyed hunting.
Cactus plant: This plant was used to bring color into their weaving.
Cotton: The richer families used this in their clothing.
Weaving loom: This was used for making many items.
This is what the Aztec women wore.
Aqueducts: To be considered beautiful, women bathed from this water daily.
Aztec Warrior: They were allowed to wear their special uniforms.
Aztec Monasteries School: This school was for the nobility sons.
Aztec Telpochcalli School: This school was for the commoners.
Aztec Village: This is were all of the girls worked, and learned from their mothers.
Cactus Spikes: These were sometimes used to give blood.
Holy River: Sometimes the blood was poured into the water.
Sacrifice Stone: This is the stone where most of the sacrifices were made.