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Aztec City of Tenochtitlan Built on an Island in Lake Texcoco

The Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was built on an island in Lake Texcoco in 1325 where it is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History. It was one of ancient Mesoamerica’s greatest and most impressive cities until it was sacked by the Spanish soldiers led by Hernan Cortes. The Spaniards later drained the lake because of massive flooding and built the modern Mexico City on the place where the great Tenochtitlan once stood. The ancient city was largely forgotten, until on the 21st of February 1978 some electricians accidentally uncovered a part of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan Aztec.

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The Migration of the Mexica People

In the early twelfth century, a group of people left their homeland in the mythical place of Aztlan and travelled south into what is now modern Mexico City. Aztlan means “Land of the White Herons” or “Place of Whiteness” in Nahua language; it was also the mythical island located inside a lake in northwestern Mexico. On the way to the Valley of Mexico, the migrants were divided into seven tribes who lived temporarily in seven caves called Chicomoztoc. These seven tribes included the Tlahuica, Xochimilca, Tepaneca, Acolhua, Chalca, and Mexica. All the other people left the caves of Chicomoztoc first, but the last ones to leave were the members of the Mexica who later founded the city of Tenochtitlan.

The war god Huitzilopochtli was said to have summoned the Mexica out of the cave and into their land. The Mesoamerican god of war and human sacrifice also gave these people his other name which was Mexitl. The Mexica arrived in the Valley of Mexico in early 1300, but many groups of people already lived there. They had to move from one place to another until the people of Colhuacan allowed them to stay in their city.

“The Western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco. Tenochtitlan is the southern part of the main island (under the red line). The northern part is Tlatelolco”

They worked as peasants for the people of Colhuacan and slowly gained their trust. The people of Colhuacan were so happy with them that they even gave their own princess for the Mexica chief to marry in 1313. The Mexica were so violent that they killed her in hopes of turning her into a war goddess. Their horrified masters became angry for the murder of their princess, so they drove the Mexica out of their city.

Foundation of Tenochtitlan and the Creation of the Aztec (Triple Alliance)

They travelled again around the Valley of Mexico until they came upon the islands on the western shore of Lake Texcoco. The group split into two and each group built separate settlements in the lake. First was the Tenochtitlan group who built their city on the lake in 1325. The second group named themselves Tlalelco. They settled on an island north of Tenochtitlan. The water between the two settlements later receded so that the two islands became one.

In 1367, the Mexica of Tenochtitlan became hired soldiers for King Tezozomoc Yacateteltetl of the neighboring city of Azcapotzalco. Together they conquered the other tribes in the Valley of Mexico and ruled the people in the years that followed. Nine years later, the Mexica became more powerful through their first king Acamapichtli. They defeated other tribes and became the sole dominating force in the Valley of Mexico. They formed the Triple Alliance with the neighboring city-states of Texcoco and Tlacopan. This powerful alliance was later called the “Aztec” in the Nahua language.

Picutre By Hanns Prem – Own work, Public Domain, Link
Aguilar-Moreno, Manuel. Handbook to Life in the Aztec World. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007.
Carrasco, David. The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.
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