Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mexico City History

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Mexico City is the capitol of Mexico and the center of the nations politics, culture and economic environment. Its current population is around 17 million which makes it the second largest metropolitan area in the world behind Tokyo, Japan.

Mexico was built on the ruins of Tenochtitian, which was the capital of the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs had developed an advanced civilization that dominated much of what is now the country of Mexico during the 15th and 16th centuries. In the early 16th century Spanish explorers arrived and conquered the Aztecs, founding Mexico city on the Aztec ruins. Mexico City soon became the center of Spain’s American colonies. Mexico gained its independence from Spain in the 180s and Mexico City became the capitol of the new nation.

Mask uncovered from Tlatilco

The central region of the Mexican high plateau has been inhabited by different peoples for at least 0,000 years. Evidence of this is found through artifacts uncovered at Tlapacoya and Tepexpan, although it is believed that the capitol of civilizations in Mesoamerica (Known as Olmeca), was actually focused on around the Gulf coast of Mexico between 1500B.C. and 500 B.C. These remains found at Tlatilco are mostly small figurines believed to be included in burial offerings. Others believe that these objects were dedicated to a cult to the dead which existed in the pre-Hispanic era.

Custom Essays on Mexico City History

Other groups slowly developed settlements along the shores of the lakes, living off of small agriculture, fish, and small game which was usually caught in the surrounding forests. “Copilco, Tetelplan and Cuicuilco were some of the more notable ceremonial sites existing during the period from 500 B.C. to 100 A.D..” Cuicuilco was particularly special due to its circular pyramid which was eventually undone by lava flows from the Xitle volcano, which erupted during the 1st Century A.D..

Over the years from 100 to 00 A.D., many different human groups settled and flourished in the central part of Mesoamerica, the most important of which was Taotihuacan (around 0 miles northeast of Mexico City). “During this era the distinction of social classes was consolidated and an extraordinary level of urban planning, with carefully delineated rules of art and architecture linked to religious worship and everyday life was achieved.” Most of these societies based their economies on planned agriculture, trade, and military rule.

Between 650 and 00 A.D., the city fell to surrounding establishments and relinquished its position of power. Other communities that rose to stand in its place were cities such as Xochicalco, Cacaxtla, and Cholula. The controlling military ideas of Teotihuacan were passed on and taken in by the Toltecas, whose culture grew and helped to aid in the fall of the city Tula, in around 1168.

A major change came in the 1th century with the arrival of the Mexica, whose primary god was Huizilopochtli, meaning Left-handed Hummingbird. Led by a priest Tenoch, one by one they conquered the established tribes and secured themselves a place by the lakes. In 1, they settled at Chapultepec, only to be driven out by the Acuhuas, forcing them to relocate to an island in the lake. The vision of and eagle devouring a snake while perched on a cactus growing on the island signified that the journey for the Mexica was over, and they established the City of Mexico- Tenochtitlan on June 8th 15.

Map of the origins of Mexico City and the surrounding areas

Due to the connections of the Mexica with the surrounding groups and people, Tenochtitlan became a melting pot for many different cultures. “Within the short period of about 00 years, they were able to expand to vastly, conquer surrounding tribes, and build a magnificent city. This expansion was done under the rules of Izcoatl, Moctezuma I, Axayacatl, Tizoc, Ahyuizotl, and Moctezuma II.”

One of the biggest parts of the culture of the Aztecs was their religious beliefs and their monuments and holy constructions. The most prevalent of these constructions was the Templo Mayor. The Templo Mayor was a double pyramid dedicated to the gods Tlaloc, god of water and rain, and Huitzilopochtli, god of war. There were many other temples, all of which were dedicated to a certain god who represented a certain purpose. The Templo Mayor stood as “not only the most visible landmark of a vast urban infrastructure, but also represented the cosmic center of a universe which required frequent human sacrifice to sustain it.”

The Aztecs started to branch out off of the small island that was the original city through a system of land refill and reclamation through small floating plots of land (Chinampas). Out of these came small canals which connected houses, palaces, temples, “a fully stocked zoo”, plazas, markets, and even aqueducts. All of this construction and public mobility promoted a social and political organization centered around small productive communities, Calpulli.

The city remained connected with the rest of the civilizations in the valley through the large causeway with a network of bridges and dams, as well as jetties and docks. One of the most impressive things about these early settlement cities is their ability to blend the lines between rural and urban environments. By 151, the city was a dominant presence in the world, in terms of structures as well as advances.

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