The Aztec Empire

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Empires throughout history have always consisted of interesting events ranging from barbaric invasions of native lands to peaceful adaptations of new cultures that ultimately led to economic, political, and educational development. The Aztec Empire followed the path of growth through the Mexica people, a semi-nomadic group from northern Mexico, who migrated south to Lake Texcoco by 1325 and began to build their own capital city of Tenochtitlan. During this development in Mesoamerica, the Aztec Empire was able to construct a stable economy that included markets and the production of craft goods in order to maintain the rapid growing population.

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Politically, the Aztec Empire was made up of a series of city-states called altepetl and each one was appointed a supreme leader (tlatoani) and supreme judge/administrator (cihuacoatl) through a caste-based system. These leaders oversaw the economy of their cities and the supreme court laws. Education in the Aztec Empire was one of the first to have mandatory education for nearly all children regardless of class or gender and others in the society excelled in engineering, mathematics, and sciences that led to innovative advances. These developments in economics, politics, and education allowed the Aztecs to build one of the largest and most powerful empires in Mesoamerica.

The extent of empire and rapid population growth stimulated the development of markets and the productions of goods. The Aztecs traded everything and their economy heavily relied on their ways of agriculture and farming. Virtually every settlement had marketplaces that were filled with nonstop activity throughout the days and the largest one was Tlatelolco. The Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes who defeated the Aztecs stated that, every kind of merchandise such as can be met with in every land is for sale there. These goods ranged from food and victuals, ornaments of gold and silver, brass, lead, tin, copper, precious stones, and feathers. Within these markets were professional merchants referred to as pochteca who dealt with large market purchases and trades while also obtaining slaves who were used for human sacrifices that, in the Aztec minds, bettered their land. The Aztecs were able to have such a diverse marketplace due to their styles of agriculture and farming that was made possible through their floating gardens. These were artificial islands created from swamplands that were able to support such an efficient and productive agriculture, officially called chinampas. The Chinampas consisted of small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds and their consistency made it possible for Aztecs to use sticks to turn the soil as they did not have appropriate tools at the time. The Aztecs were able to provide such crops and textiles in massive amounts like no other and supplied their resources through numerous canals, dikes, causeways, and bridges which factored in to their large marketplace.

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