are infamous people. Almost everyone has heard of them, and the first
thing that would spring to mind when 'Aztec' is mentioned is vicious ritual
war sacrifices. Before we talk about
the Aztecs, however, it is important to know that the earliest organized
people in Mesoamerica were the Olmecs. Not much is know of them due to
a lack of written evidence. They flourished from 1200 to 300 BC and passed
down their calendar, writing system, basic religious beliefs and architectural
knowledge to the later groups such as the Toltec, Mayan and Aztec cultures.
Besides the calendar, the Mesoamericans also shared common astronomical
symbolism. Venus was an important star and was its movements and appearances
were triggers for many of their religious activities and war. A great
quick read on the Aztecs would be The Angry Aztecs by Terry Deary published
by Scholastic Inc (top right).
The Aztecs were initially slaves of the Colhuacan people but were chased out after they killed their princess in the hope that she would become a war goddess. Led by a prophet called Tenoch, they settled on an island in the middle of a lake as the next door neighbours of the Maya around 1325 AD. They settled there because they saw an eagle perched on a cactus eating a serpent (some say fruit) - the sign their tribal god Huitzilopochtli said he would send them. To the left is a drawing from the Codex Mendoza depicting this. The fiercest people in Mesoamerica, the Aztec conquered many other people, eventually becoming a great empire. The Aztec empire was actually a confederation of City-States acknowledging vassal status to Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Mexica. They called themselves the Mexica and were the first people the Spanish Conquistadors met.