The Aztecs

The Aztecs

by Richard F. Townsend


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Richard Townsend presents here the first balanced overview of the Aztecs. He begins with a dramatic narrative of the Spanish conquest, then charts the rise of the Aztecs from humble nomads to empire builders. Within the space of a hundred years they established the largest empire in Mesoamerican history, and at Tenochtitlan built a vast shimmering city in a lake, a Venice of the New World. The Aztecs ranges from the everyday life of farmers and priests, artisans and kings, to the sinister spying activities of Aztec traders; from the making of chocolate to battle tactics. Recent discoveries from archaeological excavations are interwoven with the latest results from studies of the monuments, Spanish records and illustrated codices to produce a definitive new history of a remarkable people.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780500021132
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Publication date: 05/15/1992
Series: Ancient Peoples and Places , #10
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.84(h) x (d)

About the Author

Richard F. Townsend, a noted expert on pre-Columbian culture, is Curator of the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Art Institute of Chicago. He has conducted extensive research at Aztec sites.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Search for the Aztecs7
Part IThe Conquest of Mexico
1The Arrival of the Strangers14
The expedition of Hernan Cortes
Motecuhzoma's embassy
2The Fall of the Aztec Empire35
The death of Motecuhzoma
Storming the Great Pyramid and the escape from the city
The siege and surrender of Tenochtitlan
Part IIImmigrants, Settlers, and the First State
3Urban Traditions and Tribal Peoples44
The Toltec heritage
The migrants: Chichimecs, Acolhua, Tepanecs, and Mexica
The Mexica
The founding of Tenochtitlan
Transformation of social organization
4The Birth of an Empire71
The Tepanec expansion
The turning point
The Triple Alliance
Part IIIThe Climax of Empire
5New Conquests, New Strategies80
The chinampa district
Networks of tribute
Creating strategic buffer provinces
Alliances, clients, and kinship connections
Netzahualcoyotl's "legalist" system
6The Great Expansion94
The reign of Motecuhzoma I
Early imperial monuments
The reign of Axayacatl: expansion and defeat
Failure and rebellion under Tizoc
Ahuizotl's reign: expansion and renewal
Motecuhzoma II, the last independent ruler
Part IVAztec Religion and Beliefs
7The Aztec Symbolic World116
The Aztec deities
The concept of teotl
The myths of creation
The ritual calendar
Sacred landscapes
Part VThe Aztec People and the Cycle of Life
8The Family and Education164
Birth and childhood
Schools and education
Poetic language, music, and dance
9Farmers, Traders, and Artisans174
An ancient agricultural tradition
Chinampas, terraces; and experimental gardens
The fruits of the earth: Aztec diet
The markets of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco
Arts and crafts
An archaeological area of household workshops
Long-distance traders
10Priests, Warriors, and Rulers200
The priests: servants of the gods
The warriors
Aztec rulers
Annual Ceremonies of the Aztecs220
Notes to the Text223
Further Reading224
Sources of Illustrations228

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