Mexico Essay

2138 words - 9 pages

MEXICOAncient Native American civilizations flourished in Mesoamerica (Mexico) for centuries before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The main tribes were the Maya, Olmec, Zapotec, Mextec, Toltec, and Aztec.The Olmecs lived in the humid lowlands of southern Vera Cruz and Tabasco along the Gulf of Mexico. The word Olmec means "the dweller in the land of rubber". The Olmecs were great sculptors. They are most famous for their carvings of huge human heads made from boulders. Some of these boulders weighed as much as 50 tons. They did not have any metal tools. They carried these boulders as far as 60 miles. Nobody knows how they did this. It is believed that the stones were somehow dragged down to the nearest navigable stream and from there they transported the boulders on rafts. The Olmecs invented a calendar and influenced later cultures such as the Aztecs, Mixtec, Totonac and the Maya.The Maya lived in an area, which is now southeast Mexico and parts of present day Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. Like the Aztecs, they fought with other tribes and forced their defeated enemies to pay them in goods or services. The Maya had their own calendar, their own writing system, and kept records of births, marriages and military victories. They were excellent mathematicians.The Aztecs were a small group of people who came to the valley of Mesoamerica during the 12th and 13th century A.D. They wandered as outcasts through the territories in the southwestern corner of the valley. They were poor and ragged people who lived by eating snakes and stole food. They were hated and rejected by the other tribes.During the 14th century the Aztecs were told by their god, Huitzilopochtli, to go find a place where there would be an eagle perched on a cactus. The eagle would be eating a snake. They were to build a city at this place in his honor. The Aztecs did find a small, swampy island in Lake Texcoco. In 1325 they began building the city of Tenochtitlán (Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus), now modern-day Mexico City.During the 15th century their military strength increased and they conquered other tribes. The Aztec empire began to grow. They grew into a powerful military force. They also formed an alliance with their two powerful neighbors, the Texcoco and the Tacuba. This alliance was known as the Triple Alliance. The city of Tenochtitlán grew and prospered.Ahuitzotl was the ruler from 1486 to 1502. When he died, his nephew, Moctezuma, became the new ruler. Moctezuma continued to conquer more land and the empire continued to grow.In 1519 Heran Cortés sailed from Cuba and landed on the shores of central Mexico. He was seeking adventure and wealth. He traveled with 550 men and 16 horses. The tribes had never seen horses before. He traveled across Mesoamerica and found his way to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. The conquest had begun. Cortés defeated the Aztecs in 1521. Spain would rule Mexico for the next three...

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