Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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p. v

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

List of Text Boxes

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p. ix

List of Tables

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p. xi

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xiv

The Aztec imperial capital Tenochtitlan was one of the great cities of the ancient world. It was the largest city in the New World prior to the coming of European invaders in the sixteenth century, and—as capital of an extensive empire—one of the most powerful cities...

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1. Mesoamerica: A Constellation of Cities

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pp. 1-12

One of the most frequently cited passages about the conquest of Mexico is chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s description of the awe the conquerors felt when they first saw the Valley of Mexico:...

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2. The Mexicas’ Search for a Home

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pp. 13-21

One of the great successes of the Mexica has been the importance that we, as investigators, have given the interpretation of the past they bequeathed. When they came into power, they rewrote history, and theirs is generally the version we have followed. An oft-repeated passage tells...

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3. The Rise and Fall of the Mexica Capital

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pp. 22-39

The early years were difficult. The houses were mere huts, and the temple for Huitzilopochtli was made of perishable materials. The Mexica had to accumulate resources, and lake-based activities were one means of doing so. At the same time, they continued using...

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4. The Construction of a Metropolis

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pp. 40-54

Most of the data we have on Tenochtitlan comes from the time of the conquest and the beginning of the colonial period. Before that, there are a few isolated statements. However, they are hardly comparable in detail to later sources, and they do not enable us to follow the evolution...

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5. A Visit to Tenochtitlan

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pp. 55-84

After Motecuhzoma found lodging for them in Axayacatl’s palace, the Spaniards, led by Hernán Cortés, were able to visit the city. The first descriptions of the city and the only description of the pre-Hispanic city before the conquest derive from this visit: Cortés’s Second Letter...

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6. Supply and Distribution

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pp. 85-112

The city of Tenochtitlan was founded on a small island where resources were limited. Even though it was located in the center of a lake, the water was brackish, which made the provisioning of fresh water for human consumption difficult. As a result, the Chapultepec aqueduct was one...

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7. The Activities of the Tenochca

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pp. 113-146

Fortunately, we have much information about the activities of people at Tenochtitlan. This is most important to the study of ancient American cities because we lack such information for other places. So the knowledge of the activities of the people of Tenochtitlan is useful for...

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8. The Life of the Tenochca

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pp. 147-175

The daily activities of the Tenochca had much to do with social status, gender, age, and occupation (see Bray 1968; Soustelle 1970; and Carrasco and Sessions 1998). The cycle of celebrations also influenced daily life. A particular...

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9. Tenochtitlan: Capital of an Empire

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pp. 176-188

Because Tenochtitlan was the capital of an empire, the presentation of its history is not complete without taking into consideration the evolution and characteristics of the state it dominated. In fact, changes have occurred in our interpretation of the Mexica Empire during the last few...

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10. From Tenochtitlan to Mexico City

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pp. 189-194

Context is very important. In fact, without it we would not be able to understand many things. Tenochtitlan’s context, both past and present, is Mesoamerica (Rojas 2005). The Mesoamerican civilization is an ancient one that covers a considerable area, and it was a powerful...

Glossary of Nahuatl Terms

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pp. 195-198

References

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pp. 199-214

Index

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pp. 215-225

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About the Author, Further Reading

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pp. 226-227

José Luis de Rojas is professor of anthropology at the Complutense University of Madrid. He is author of nearly a dozen books, including Ethnohistory of America, The Indian Monies and Their Use in New Spain...