IntroductionThe Aztec tribe lived in ancientMexico for about 400 years.For the first 200 years, the Aztecswere constantly on the move. Noone wanted the Aztecs asneighbors. The Aztecs practicedhuman sacrifice. They believed thatif their gods were not fed, theywould not do their jobs. The sungod would not bring up thesun, and everyone would die.
IntroductionTo keep their gods happy, the Aztecs believedthat human sacrifice was necessary. They usedpeople to feed their hungry gods.Some of the people they sacrificedwere Aztecs. However, most ofthe people they sacrificed werecaptured from neighboring tribes.This did not make them popularwith their neighbors. Sooner or later,their neighbors would band together tochase the Aztecs away.
SettlementWhen the Aztecs first arrived in the Valley ofMexico, other tribes were already living onthe best land in the area.This time, rather than fight for the best landor for captives to feed their hungry gods,the Aztecs quietly settled along theswampy shores of Lake Texcoco.They built canoes so they could fish, huntwaterfowl, and trade with other tribesfor the building materials they needed.
Free School for EveryoneTo build the city they wanted, theyknew that they would need manyengineers, builders, and traders. Thisrequired an educated population. Tosolve this problem, the Aztecs set upa system of public schools.Attendance was mandatory for allAztec children, even girls and slaves.The Aztecs were the only people upto that time in history to have freeschools that every child had to attend.
All-Girls School There were three different schools: one for girls, and two for boys. Girls learned about religion and were trained to be good wives and mothers. They learned how to cook, sew, and how to care for their children. They also learned how to make beautiful woven textiles.
Sons of the Upper ClassSons of the upper class went to thenobles’ school. Sons of wealthytraders and merchants also went tothis school. They studied law, writing(hieroglyphics), medicine,engineering andbuilding, interpretation of dreams andomens, and self-expression. They alsolearned about their history andreligious beliefs.It was a tough school. The boys werehumiliated and tormented to toughen them up.
Sons of Commonersand Slaves The other boys’ school was for sons of commoners. Its main goal was to train warriors and farmers. Boys had to sleep under skimpy blankets. They were given hard bread to eat. The commoners’ school also taught history, religion, manners, corre ct behavior, and important rituals, along with singing and
Specialized ProfessionsNo matter which school an Aztecboy attended, he was trained to bea specialist. Boys studied how to befarmers, traders, engineers, builders, astronomers, and doctors.Students who became builders andengineers designed and built theamazing Aztec cities, including thecapital city of Tenochtitlan, locatedon the swampy shores of LakeTexcoco.
Floating Gardens As the Aztec population grew, more food was needed. To solve this problem, Aztec engineers created “floating” gardens. They built a series of rafts, which they anchored to the lake bed. They piled on dirt and grew crops. They made walkways out of mud and reeds to connect the floating rafts. The gardens were quite successful. The Aztecs grew chili peppers, squash, corn, tomatoes, a