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Ancient America
Hispanic Heritage
The Aztecs, Part 2



The Aztecs, Part 2
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.05

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    conquest, monetary, original, chiles, immunity, astronomy, military, civilization, generation, luxury, writing, firewood, crickets, religion, traveler, smallpox
     content words:    Mexico City


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The Aztecs, Part 2
By Jane Runyon
  

1     The life of an Aztec could be quite interesting. The people lived on islands located in a swamp. Because land was so limited, they created their own growing spaces by creating floating islands. The islands would be planted with seeds and then pushed out into the water to grow. When the crop needed tending, the island was pulled back to shore. Most of the people of Tenochtitlan lived inside the city. By the 1520's, only about one of every five citizens made their living by growing food. Many of the rest of the people were warriors, craftsmen, or traders.
 
2     Warriors were important to the Aztec civilization. They believed in war. They attacked and conquered other tribes all over Mexico. They would rather capture their enemies in battle than kill them. They preferred to take their captives back to the capital and make a few into slaves. Those who weren't slaves were killed in human sacrifices to their gods. This treatment made enemies of many of the tribes in the area. These tribes backed Cortez in his plan to destroy the Aztec nation. When the Aztecs conquered an area far from the main city, they didn't take over its government. They left the original leaders in charge. They did, however, demand that the captured people pay tribute to the Aztecs from one to four times a year. This tribute could be paid in the form of food, cloth, jewels, and even firewood. The Aztecs could get the luxury items they desired in this way. They demanded colorful feathers, decorated costumes, and beads from the conquered towns.
 
3     Transportation in the Aztec nation was usually by foot. The Aztecs created an intricate system of roads from place to place. These roads were not large enough for animals or wagons. Messages were sent regularly to distant towns by couriers who ran along the paths. Every six to nine miles, a rest station was built. Here the traveler could eat or sleep. After the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, the roads were no longer maintained. They disappeared from the land.

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