The Aztecs Essay

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The Aztecs

When the Spaniards under Hernan Cortez gazed upon the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán in Mexico in 1519, the scene before them amazed them. There, in the middle of a wide lake was a shimmering city with bright white walls of vast buildings sitting on an island in the middle of a large lake with causeways linked to it. The astonishment of those first Spanish visitors soon turned to horror when they saw the vast scale of ritual sacrifices made by the Aztecs.
Even today, it is hard to comprehend the extent or rationale for this ritual sacrifice. It is estimated that the Aztec royalty sacrificed approximately 20,000 people per year. Captives were taken to the top of pyramids where, upon a ritual flat stone table, they had
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This is why the Aztecs never fully conquered many of the surrounding states. They needed a steady supply of ritual sacrifice victims. If they used their own people for sacrifice then it could cause an uprising.
There was another reason for these ritual sacrifices---cannibalism. After the hearts were removed and the bodies tossed down the temple steps, the limbs were removed and later cooked. As repugnant as cannibalism is to us today, back then to the Aztecs, cooked human bodies were looked upon as great delicacies which explains why only Aztec royalty, not the common people, were allowed to engage in cannibalism. The favorite parts for the Aztecs to munch on were the hands and thighs. The Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, was reported to have been partial to cooked thighs served with tomatoes and chili pepper sauce.
This scene might turn our stomachs but it must also be remembered that the Aztecs had no domestic livestock so the body leftovers (the hearts given to the gods were the main course) from the ritual sacrifices was a way for the Aztec royalty to obtain proteins and fats. Thus in the Aztecs we can see a mingling of religion and nourishment which resulted in human sacrifice.

The Aztecs: Ambivalence and Beauty

The Aztecs were also known as the Tenocha or the Mexica and the name Mexico comes from this. They were the dominant peoples of Central America at the time of the

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