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The Aztec Society, The Great Pyramid Of Tenochtitlan

2071 words - 9 pages

An example of monumental archetecture within the Aztec society is the great pyramid ofTenochtitlan. It was created by the revered speaker Montecuzoma I, who was the ruler ofthe Aztecs in 1466. The pyramid was not finished until the rule of Montecuzoma II,around 1508. (Carrasco, Moctezumas Mexico, Pg 49.)The pyramid was known to the Aztecs as the 'icpac tlamanacali,' or The Great Pyramid.It's base was square, and 150 yards to a side. It rose toa height of 70 yards, and hadsmooth sides. The staircase ascending the front was actually two staircases, one for peoplegoing up and one for people going down. The staircases were separated by an ornamentalgutter for blood to flow down. The pyramid was ...view middle of the document...

Onlynobles had working drinking and bathing systems with running water in thier homes. Thesewage system worked much like today, having human wastes carried to a collection poolwere solid's were collected, and then having liquids run off into a series of terraces whichfiltered the water. Solid wastes were allowed to sit in a collection pool for about sixmonths and then were brought to the lake gardens to be used as fertilizer. Some of thewaste management practices used by the Aztecs are stil used today. (Jenning's, Aztec, Pg220.)Social Structure-Uey-TlatoaniPipiltinMacehaultinTlacotliThe Aztec social structure contained four well defined classes. At the bottom of the heapwere slaves and serfs, or the Tlacotli, who worked the private lands of the nobility. Nextcame the Macehualtin, 'the fortunate,' as they were called because they were equally freeof the heavy responsibility of the nobility and of the slaves liability to being basely used.They were the merchants, shopkeepers and artisans that made up the bulk of thepopulation. The Macehualtin belonged to localized kin groups known as calpulli or 'bighouses,' each of which had it's own lands, clan leaders, and temple. (Jenning's, Aztec, Pg354.)After that came the hereditary nobility or Pipiltin, who supplied the top bureaucrats in theAztec imperial system, and from whose ranks was a formed a council which advised theemperor and elected his successor from the ruling lineage. Also all of the nobility had thesound 'ztin' added to the end of their name.At the very top of the ladder was the Uey-Tlatoani, or revered speaker. He had absolutecontrol over civil affairs and it was his job to increase the size of the Aztec empire everyyear and if he didn't wage enough wars within a period of time he would be impeached andreplaced by the Pipiltin. (Oliphant, Atlas of the Ancient World. Pg 268)The Aztec government consisted of principally of the leadership of the royal house andthe vast bureaucracy backed by it. The Uey-Tlatoani dealed mainly with external affairs ofthe Aztec empire such as starting wars and making peace treaties. Also there was aparallel ruler, another member of the royal lineage, known as the Cihuacoatl. He dealtmainly with the internal affairs of Tenochtitlan such as the water system and the justicesystem. The bureaucracy was set into place by the nobles and performed the same functionthat civil servants perform today. (Oliphant, Atlas of the Ancient World, 195.)To maintain the empire the Aztec government made the territories it conquered tributetwice yearly. Taxes were collected from the territories also and careful accounts were keptof what territories had to pay. The heavy taxation and forced tribute disgruntled manyterritories. When Hernan Cortes arrived in the early 1500's they were happy to help him asspies and informants. (Blacker, Cortez and The Aztec Conquest, 143.)Aztec religion was based on the worship of many gods, but the most important was thesun god. Aztec preists werenot...

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