Ancient Aztecs by Karen Latchana Kenney

By Karen Latchana Kenney

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The Florentine Codex lists many Aztec recipes. The Aztecs raised only a few kinds of animals for food, including turkey, duck, and dogs, along with bees for honey, so vegetables and fruits made up the bulk of the commoners’ diet. Meat and fish were reserved for the nobility. Some other sources of protein included salamanders, tadpoles, and insects. Amaranth, a high-protein grain, combined with beans gave Aztecs much of the protein they needed. Vegetables included different kinds of squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, jicama, and nopal cactus.

They wrote historical records, tribute lists, calendars, laws, and descriptions of professions and daily life. This writing was also used on monuments and sculptures. By the time the Spanish arrived or soon after, much of Aztec culture and history was written with this system in codices, such as the Codex Mendoza. These records preserved important information about how Aztec society and its government worked in the time before the Spanish conquest. indd 50 10/28/14 1:33 PM CHAPTER 5 TRADES, GOODS, AND ARCHITECTURE A fter school, Aztecs moved on to their professions and began contributing to Aztec society.

This was a group of families that collectively owned land. Many calpulli were part of a city, called an altepetl. 1 These calpulli leaders were members of the altepetl’s council. From that council, four members formed a higher council. Its leader was the altepetl’s tlatoani, the highest leader of the city. The tlatoani served in his position for life. The empire itself was an alliance between the three city-states— Tenochtitlán, Texcoco, and Tlacopan—with Tenochtitlán as the dominant arm of the alliance.

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