The Aztecs were a very religious
race. They strongly believed in the sacrificing of people to please the gods, and killed
over 20,000 people a year for this purpose. The emperor had special temples built in which
the people would hold these deadly rituals. One example of such a temple would be the
Great Temple of Tenochtitlan.
The different cities always wanted to make their sacrificial temple
better than all others, but instead of destroying their old temple, they built over it!
They made temples larger, more extravagant, and more pleasing to the eye with each new
layer. In addition, the temples had more steps, more decorations, and a larger sacrificial
area. (These temples look much like the step pyramids of Egypt). Archaeologists have found
a temple that had over six layers! Each new layer was more magnificent than the last.
Other additions were little figures at the ends of the staircases that
look like dragons. They are called stone serpents's heads and there is no clear reason as
to why they were placed there. Whatever the reason, it probably had something to do with
the Aztec's strong beliefs about serpents.
1. Odijk, Pamela, The Ancient World: The Aztec,
Dnglewood Cliffs, Silver Burdett, 1989
2. Wood, Tim, See Through History: The Aztecs, New
York, Viking, 1992