National Geographic : 2010 Nov
Texcoco Tlacopan Tenochtitlan NORTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA (Present-day Mexico City) Triple Alliance Enemy state Extent of Ahuitzotl's Aztec Empire AREA ENLARGED 0mi 100 0km100 Tenochtitlan Lake Texcoco Lake Chalco Popocatépetl Iztaccíhuatl 1375 1325 N TEMPLO MAYOR Road to Ixtapalapan Lake Xochimilco Dike Tlatelolco AREA ENLARGED Aqueduct Reflection of the Cosmos The Aztec imagined the universe as a plot of land surrounded by water, with a vertical axis linking 13 heav- ens and 9 levels of the underworld. Tenochtitlan's grid may have been modeled on that cosmic order. Sacred Precinct Religious rituals and civic life in the city of 200,000 converged on a 30-acre plaza. Inside its walls, shrines and racks of enemy skulls stood in the shadow of the Templo Mayor. The plaza also contained smaller pyramids, schools for nobles, and a ball court. AZTEC RULERS Tenochtitlan is founded in 1325. Over the centuries only 11 men rule as tlatoani, each with a unique name glyph. ACAMAPICHTLI (Handful of Arrows) is the first tlatoani, hereditary ruler of the Aztec city-state. 1337 The market town of Tlatelolco grows north of Tenochtitlan. 1350 Causeways and canals link Tenochti- tlan's neighborhoods. AN AZTEC ISLAND HOME Aztec rulers built a powerful city-state on an island in Lake Texcoco in the Basin of Mexico. Called Tenochti- tlan, it was divided by long avenues, crisscrossed by canals, and connected to the mainland by causeways. At its heart was the Sacred Precinct, the empire's religious center, anchored by the Templo Mayor, which was built to unite sky, earth, and worlds below.