The Aztecs: Culture, Religion, And Lifestyle

934 words - 4 pages

The Aztec Environment-The Aztec people lived in the Valley of Mexico located in south-central Mexico. The valley is about 7,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by high mountains on all but the northern side. The valley is a closed hydrographic unit, which means water flowing down the mountains drains into a series of shallow, marshy lakes, all of which are interconnected.The relatively high elevation of the Valley of Mexico results in a climate generally cooler than what would be expected, which would be nice in the hot summers. The average temperature of the region is around 12 degrees Celsius. These lower temperatures allow for only a one-crop growing season, and often this is interrupted in the spring and fall seasons by frost. The cool climate caused a sense of uncertainty for the Aztec farmer, wondering if his crops would be ruined by frosts, affecting their survival, had to be at the forefront of their thoughts.The rainy season that the Aztecs experienced lasted from May through October. The amount of rainfall varied from an average of 450 mm in the north up to 1000 mm in the southern part of the valley. Rainfall, although plentiful throughout most of the valley, was often sparse and could not be relied upon for the watering of the Aztec's crops. The Aztecs learned early that rain was unpredictable and knew irrigation systems had to be set up by to insure that their crops would not fail.The system of lakes within the valley made it a unique environment. These lakes are both saline and freshwater, giving the Aztecs variety in the resources available to them and presenting problems along the lines of farming. The resources that lakes provided the Aztecs with were a wider variety of fish and hunting areas at their disposal, greater opportunity for collecting plants that grew along and around the lakes, and the ability to perform certain types of intensive farming techniques. Lakes also were an excellent source of transportation for the Aztec people; they allowed them to easily transport agricultural products and other items around the central area of their empire. A problem that arose because of the lakes was that the swampy plain was subject to flooding. The Aztecs were able to overcome this problem by using forms of high-water table cultivation and through the drainage of low-lying areas. Prior to the Spanish invasion in the 1500's the Valley of Mexico was one of the most complex and productive agricultural areas in the western hemisphere.Volcanic elements in the soil of the valley were important to the development of the Aztec empire. This volcanic soil was extremely fertile, ideal for the cultivation of maize, the Aztecs main crop. Obsidian, a volcanic glass, was also...

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