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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Fall of the Aztec Empire

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

The fall of Aztec civilization has long been the subject of much debate. However, this much is clear, the Aztec were an extraordinary people, steeped in myth and mayhem. Their impact is still felt throughout Mexico.

The Aztec Empire collapsed quickly, lasting no more than a century. Some have blamed the collapse on Cortes, and the invading Spaniards, but in fact, disease and regional discord also played major roles.

In the year 1427, the Aztecs, under the rule of Itzcoatl, and with the assistance of surrounding communities successfully conquered the Tepanecs, thus gaining control of the Valley of Mexico'. However, unlike other warring nations, the Aztec were primarily interested in occupation of new territory, seeking offerings, human and otherwise, for sacrifice to their unusual Gods.

Existing community temples were burned or destroyed, replaced with Aztec alters. Residents were instructed to worship their new God, Huitzilopochtli.
Aztec religion was represented through numerous deities, most which appear on the Aztec calendar. These deities were believed responsible for blessing or cursing Aztec life. Such practices were unacceptable to many regional communities, who often found themselves or their neighbors victims of Aztec atrocities.

Around 1521, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan became infected with the small-pox virus. The subsequent epidemic wiped out nearly half the population of the city, leaving it vulnerable to attack from outside forces. Soon after, Cortes mobilized nine thousand of his own troops and nearly a hundred-fifty thousand regional troops, bringing down the Aztec Empire forever. By August of 1521, the Aztec were all but decimated, and in their wake, began the era of Spanish rule throughout Mexico.

Descendants of the Aztec continue to live throughout Mexico, and much about Aztec culture remains. Previously unknown ruins have recently been documented and excavated, leading to much new information about these amazing people. Still, like their relatives, the Mayan and the Toltec, the Aztec left behind a curious and troubling legacy, some mysteries of which we shall never fully understand.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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Anonymous said...

Could the Aztecs have traveled as far North as today's city of Phoenix?

A question for debate with minimal facts to back up either arguement. Unless there are facts to support one side or the other.

What say you Brad?


B. Thomas Cooper said...

it's a very good question, and one which I should not attempt to answer outright. There is certainly evidence supporting the theory.

There is also evidence suggesting the Mayan made it this far north as well, but very little academic support for such evidence.

Through my studies, I have linked several native Indian tribes who shared similar cultures, including the Zuni, Pueblo, Hohokam and the Anasazi.

The Toltec and Olmec however, seem to have originated from an entirely different ball of twine, having more in common with the Inca.

The Mayans were something of a hybrid, as were their relatives, the Aztec.

Facts are subject to interpretation. Being that I am by no means, a scholar on the subject, I have very little academic experience worth noting. However, I can produce dozens of sites suggesting the Mayan did indeed visit the valley, as did their relatives, the Aztec.

Of course, scholars have long suggested the Mexicans did not venture north of the Gila river for fear of Apache, and we are all aware that I have destroyed that theory entirely. I have historically proven the Mexicans were in the valley, and I can shame the scholars into a deep funk. It's a debate I cannot lose.

As such, the jury is out. I want to believe the academic community has it right, but I know they don't, and this I find disturbing. In fact, I recently was researching ancient canals and found where modern scholars had based conclusions on maps they were reading upside down.
So much for common sense.

There are certain aspects of society quite specific to the Mayan and Aztec cultures which can be found in abundance throughout Arizona. As such, I would find it unacceptable to assume they were never here.

Thank you for asking. Please feel welcome to respond accordingly.


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Anonymous said...

You suggest the outbreak of smallpox that decimated the Aztec population occurred before the arrival of Cortez.
It has always been my understanding that the Spaniards brought the disease with them and passed it on to the Aztecs who had no immunity to smallpox. This is what eventually facilitated the fall of the empire.