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The Aztecs



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This is the 3rd edition with a publication date of 12/27/2011.

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The Aztecs brings to life one of the best-known indigenous civilizations of the Americas in a vivid, comprehensive account of the ancient Aztecs. A thorough examination of Aztec origins and civilization including religion, science, and thought Incorporates the latest archaeological excavations and research into explanations of the Spanish conquest and the continuity of Aztec culture in Central Mexico Expanded coverage includes key topics such as writing, music, royal tombs, and Aztec predictions of the end of the world

Author Biography

Michael E. Smith is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. He has directed excavations at numerous Aztec sites and is co-editor (with Marilyn Masson) of The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader (Blackwell, 1999) and author of Aztec City-State Capitals (University Press of Florida, 2008).

Table of Contents

List of Figures x

List of Tables xiv

Preface xv

Guide to Pronunciation and Spelling xviii

1 The Aztecs of Mesoamerica 1

Who Were the Aztecs? 3

Mesoamerican Context 5

The Aztec Environment 7

Sources of Information 12

Ethnohistory 13

Archaeology 20

Art History 27

Aztec Studies Today 28

2 The Rise of Aztec Civilization 30

Timetables 31

Pre-Aztec Civilizations 33

The Aztlan Migrations 36

Toltecs, Chichimecs, and Aztec Identity 39

The Growth of City-States: The Early Aztec Period 40

Tenochtitlan and Empire: The Late Aztec Period 46

3 People on the Landscape 60

How Many Aztecs? 61

The Aztec Diet 65

Farming Systems 69

Rural Settlement 77

The Rural Landscape 81

4 Artisans and their Wares 82

Utilitarian Crafts 82

Luxury Crafts 94

Otumba: An Aztec Craft Center 103

5 The Commercial Economy 108

Marketplaces 109

Money 116

Material Evidence for Aztec Commerce 119

A Complex Economy 124

6 Family and Social Class 127

Growing up Aztec 128

Adult Life and Social Roles 131

Social Classes 134

Commoners 135

Nobles and their Palaces 143

7 City-State and Empire 152

City-States 153

Relations Among City-States 159

The Empire of the Triple Alliance 163

Imperial Strategies and Control 165

Mexica Propaganda and the Limits of Empire 177

8 Cities and Urban Planning 179

City-State Capitals 180

Provincial Cities and Towns 184

Tenochtitlan 189

9 Creation, Death, and the Gods 197

Myths of Creation 198

Aztec Religion: Historical Background 201

The Gods 204

Death, Burial, and the Afterlife 211

10 Temples and Ceremonies 217

Priests 217

Human Blood Offerings 219

The Templo Mayor 225

Public Ceremonies 235

Private Rituals 239

11 Science, Writing, and Calendars 244

Writing 244

Calendars and Astronomy 249

Technology 259

Medicine 260

12 Art, Music, and Literature 263

Art 263

Literature and Poetry 271

Music and Dance 274

13 Final Glory, Conquest, and Legacy 278

The Final Century: 1428–1519 279

Conquest by Spain 282

The Nahuas under Spanish Rule 290

Continuity and Change 296

The Aztec Legacy: Modern Nahua Indian Culture 298

The Aztec Past and the Mexican Present 300

A Wider Perspective 303

Notes 305

Glossary of Nahuatl Terms 337

References 339

Index 385

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