Aztec Civilization

The Aztec civilization was an empire that controlled large parts of what is today Central America from the 14th until the 16th century. The dominant language spoken in the Aztec civilization was Nahuatl, though there were other languages that were spoken as well. It should also be noted that only a certain number of ethnic groups were actual Aztecs, though many other groups became a part of the Aztec civilization. The capital city of the Aztec empire was Tenochtitlan, and this city was located on the Lake Texcoco island. More often than not, the Aztec civilization is used to describe all the city states which comprised the empire, and to non-historians, the Aztec Empire and the Aztec Civilization are often used interchangeably.

Aztec Empire

Starting in the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was considered to be the heart of the Aztec empire, in addition to the capital city being located here, the Triple Alliance could be found here as well. By the year 1520, the empire was estimated to contain as much as 20 million people. The empire of the Aztecs is distinct from other mesoamerican civilizations in a number of different ways. First, it has a tradition of mythologies and religious systems that were highly complex, and they achieved astounding achievements in both architecture and art, achievements which rivaled Europe.


Another factor that made the Aztec Empire unique was its penchant for human sacrifice. While this practice was prevalent among other civilizations in the region, it was very pronounced among the Aztecs, particularly for its brutality and its frequency. The Aztec civilization had reached its maximum height and power by 1521, and it was during this time that Hernan Cortes arrived in the region, defeating the Aztecs with both his own native army and a group of mesoamerican natives who wished to crush the Aztecs once and for all.

The End Of Aztec Empire

The Triple Alliance, led by Moctezuma, was defeated in what became the end of the Aztec empire, and Cortes and has men would found Mexico City, the current capital of Mexico, upon the ashes of what was once Tenochtitlan. Because the Aztec civilization was highly advanced, the Aztecs left a record of their history, culture, religion, and conquests, and these have allowed archaeologists to learn as much as possible about the civilization. The history is learned through codices made from bark, as well as archaeological monuments such as the Templo Mayor.

The Sources Of History Of Aztec Civilization

Historians also learn much about the Aztec civilization through accounts made by men such as Hernan Cortes. Aztec history was also preserved during the 17th century by monks and natives who understood the Nahuatl language, who wrote down information which was related to it. Perhaps the most famous of this information is the Florentine Codex. The Aubin Codex explained that a group of about seven tribes lived within Aztland, and they were under the control of an elite who ruled the region. These tribes would eventually leave the area to find news lands in which they could settle. Once these tribes left, they were instructed by their god not to refer to themselves as being Aztecs, but Mexica instead.