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Aztec History - Early MesoAmerica

Early Mesoamerica

The peoples of Mesoamerica were two types of people: the Toltec (which means "craftsman"), who kept the urban culture, and the Chichimec, or wild people, who came to Mesoamerica from the north. The Mexica were first Chichimec when they migrated into Mexico, but then became Toltecs.

Even though all Nahuatl-speakers in the Valley of Mexico were Aztecs, the civilization that was most dominate was a tribe of the Mexica (pronounced "me-shee-ka") called the Tenochca ("te-noch-ka") who later called themselves the Toltecs. The Tenochca's history is one of the most well known in Mesoamerica. As early as the twelfth century CE the Mexica migrated from the north. Their god, Huitzilopochtli, had commanded them to take this journey to the south and they arrived in the Valley of Mexico in 1248.

The Tenochca were originally peaceful, but their wild Chichimec background and their ritual of human sacrifice, was not tolerated by other peoples in the area. The relationship between the Tenochcas and Culhuacan deterioted when the Tenochcas sacrificed a daughter of the king of Culhuacan in a ceremony. The Culhuacans joined together with other tribes and defeated the Tenochac tribe. In 1300, the Tenochcas became under the control of the town of Culhuacan; some escaped and settled on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco. The Tenochcas who had lived in Culhuacan taught urban culture and architecture to the people on the island. The town they started sometime between 1300 and 1375 was Tenochtitlan, or "place of the Tenochcas." The Tenochca also adopted the culture of the area called Mixteca-Pueblo that was originally the culture of Teotihuacán, which was continued with the urban living that they built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

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