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Aztec ~ Engineering and Empire (Part 3)

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The walls were a wicker construction made of sticks, reeds, stones and earth. Since the lake was shallow the dike was only about 12ft in height but some 27 ft wide. The dike was fitted with wooden door, that could be raised or lowered to control the water level behind it. The dike also served another purpose, it protected their water supply. It was important to build some sort of protective mechanism to keep salt water out of fresh water. An army marches on its stomach. A food supply for civilians is a no brainer in the ciritcal development in any civilization. But the Aztecs perfected a unique method to not only supply the civilians but to supply the military expansion of its empire This revolutionary engineering was called Chinampas. A system that allowed them to create new land to farm and to live on. If you are going to have a city of any size you are going to have to provide room for them. And so what they did was build up this Chinampa in the lake bed Basically a Chinampa is an artificial island in the lake. They look like football fields about 300 long ft long and 30 ft wide A Chiapas was build by weaving a bed of sticks floating in the water and piling reeds on top of them. Mud was then scraped from the lake bottom and piled on top to form the Chinampa It took 4-6 men 8 days to build. They were connected to the city by navigation canal that could take thousands of men months to build. A Chinampa like this could produce up to 7 crops a year where a farm on land could yield 1 or 2 at most. As a crop of was harvested on one Chinampa, seedlings from another were spouting in the mud that would be spread on a boat beside the other Chinampas. Then when the seedlings were ready they would be transferred to the Chinampa and repeated over and over again on hundreds of Chinampas It was this technology that transformed the city to a dominate city state With their city structure in place and vast lands under their control. The Aztecs would push their boundaries further than ever before. They create an Aztec super-highway. But as the empire grew so did their practice of human sacrifice. Soon rivers of blood would be flowing through the streets. Today the capital of the Aztec empire is gone, buried under modern Mexico city. But 700 years ago it was a shining capital on the rise Built by advanced engineers and led by larger than life emperors By the late 15th century the Aztec population had exploded. There next great emperor would launch a conquest that would rival anything in history. His name was Ahuitzotl and he would prove to be an even greater warrior. By 1502 the Aztec's had territory from the Pacific coast and down to Guatemala His reign was kind of like the golden age. He was king that opened transport routes. Where the Aztec got their greatest luxuries..tropical feathers, precious stones, and gold that nobles wore as a symbol of their station in life To transport riches to the heart of the empire the aztec's constructed a network of highways Relay runners were stationed every few miles, to created an ancient Federal Express Messages and goods could be sent 200 miles in just 24 hours. Faster than the postal service today WIth the empire at its height. The Aztecs embarked on their largest construction project. A massive pyramid at the very center of the city. A symbol of their absolute power It was called the Great Temple The base of the pyramid was 240 ft deep by 300 ft wide and rose 15 stories There were 117 steps in 2 stair cases climbing 200 ft. Leading to twin temples to honour the gods of rain and war. The temple was rebuilt 7 times beginning in 1325 when the city began. As the empire grew so did the pyramid. Each stage was built on top of the one before The temple was mainly made of volcanic stone, a light weight stone that would prevent the sinking. For floor and walls the Aztec's applied lime plaster as a form of concrete. Some examples found today remain as hard as concrete even after 500 years. Aztec workers laboured for decades to complete their monument to the gods. The temple remained buried until 1978 when power company workers, digging a trench accidently uncovered a huge carved stone and discovered the temple ruins next to it. The disk 11 ft in diameter weighs 8 tonnes and shows an Aztec godness. The godness was the moon godess but her brother murdered her because she became pregnant in a very shameful way. Now the Aztec were not prudes, in face nobles had many wives. But among the commoners, paticularly the women, adultry was no no and severely punished, often by death. According to legend the moon goddess brother cut her head off and shoved her body down a hill The Aztec's literally re-inacted this at festivals throughout the year. Cutting the head off their victims at the top of a pyramid and push them down. For the Roman's the most precious treasure was gold, for the Egpytian's it was the afterlife, for the Aztec it was human blood. The felt they had to give thanksblood to the gods by giving them their most precious gift, human blood. And they believed if the gods did not get blood in massive amounts, the world would end. It was common to have fresh human blood on the inside walls of the temples. And the smell must of been appauling. To dedicate her expansion of the Great Temple, the emperor held a mass sacrifice The heads of victims were displayed on skull racks around the temple. According to some it was 20 000 people but practically it sounds impossible. What this tells us is that to the Aztec eyes it seemed like many As the emperors reign continued bloodletting skyrocketted. Life in the city was all about death. Friends and enemies were brought in to witness the sacrifices.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 32 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 376
Posted by: jenclevette on Apr 22, 2009

Part 3

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