Q:

How did the Aztecs build their pyramids?

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Quick Answer

The Aztecs, as most Mesoamerican peoples, built their pyramids with a core of earth or rubble and an exterior of layered stone. In some cases, new pyramids were built over older ones. They were built steeply, with steps leading from the base to the summit.

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Full Answer

The Great Pyramid in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, which is now part of Mexico City, was built over six other pyramids. The original pyramid was constructed of earth and wood sometime in the early 14th century. Subsequent pyramids employed stone and stucco in their construction, and the temples at their peaks became more and more elaborate at each stage. Finally, the seventh and last pyramid was topped with a large and intricately sculpted ceremonial temple, the Templo Mayor, which Hernando Cortez destroyed during his conquest of the Aztecs in 1521.

The pyramids were constructed to honor the Aztec deities. The Great Pyramid had shrines to Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war, as well as Tlaloc, the god of fertility and rain. At the peaks of the pyramids, the Aztecs conducted their famous human sacrifices during which still-beating hearts would be removed from the victims. Estimates of the number of victims vary greatly, but most historians agree that there were at least several thousand a year.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Who conquered the Aztecs?

    A:

    The Spanish army, led by Hernán Cortés, conquered the Aztecs. The battle for parts of what is now Mexico lasted for just over two years between the Aztecs and the Spanish.

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  • Q:

    What did the Aztecs sacrifice?

    A:

    Both humans and animals were sacrificed by the Aztecs. The sacrifices were given to appease the gods since the Aztecs believed they owed a debt of blood to the gods and that the only way to avoid disaster was to pay it.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between the Aztecs and the Mayans?

    A:

    The Aztecs were present in Mexico during the 1500s, inhabiting the city of Tenochtilan, which is now Mexico City. The Mayans appeared later and occupied vast territory spanning across Mesoamerica, which is modern-day Guatemala, Belize, the Yucutan Peninsula, and parts of Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, during the sixth century A.D. The empires are greatly distinguished by their way of life.

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  • Q:

    What are some differences between the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas?

    A:

    Differences between the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas include their location and language system. The Aztecs lived in what is now central Mexico, while the Mayas lived in southern Mexico and the Inca civilization was focused around Chile and Peru. Both the Aztecs and the Mayans developed a writing system for their language, while the Incas did not.

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