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Aztec Empire

Glossary and Terms

History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids

Adobe - A building material made from mixing sand, clay, and water together and then letting it dry in the sun. Some of the Aztec homes were built from adobe.

Amanteca - Aztec craftspeople who worked with feathers. They made clothing and headdresses for the nobility.

Aqueduct - A manmade channel used to transport water over a long distance.

Calmecac - A school for the nobility where they trained to become government officials, military leaders, and priests.

Calpulli - A group of families like a clan. It was the division of the Aztec government below the city-state.

Causeway - A road across a waterway. There were causeways across the lake leading to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.

Chinampa - Manmade islands used for growing crops. The Aztecs built these around the city of Tenochtitlan because much of the land was swampy.

City-state - An independent government that consists of a main city and the lands around it.

Codex - A book made up of a number of pages folded in a zig-zag pattern. Much of what we know about the Aztecs comes from codices.

Conquistadors - Spanish explorers, adventurers, and conquerors. They colonized much of Central and South American for the Spanish Empire.

Empire - A group of states or peoples united under one leader or monarch called an emperor.

Huitzilopochtli - The primary Aztec god, he was the god of the sun and war. He was also the patron god of Tenochtitlan.

Macehualtin - The commoner class of the Aztec Empire.

Maize - A vegetable like corn. It was the main staple food of the Aztecs.

Mesoamerica - A region of southern North America that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica.

Mexica - A name for the people who lived in the Valley of Mexico.

Montezuma - Two of the most important emperors of the Aztecs were named Montezuma. It is also sometimes spelled Moctezuma.

Nahuatl - The language spoken by the Aztecs. It is still spoken by some people in central Mexico today.

Obsidian - A hard, brittle rock that can be used to make sharp edges for tools.

Ollama - An Aztec game played with a rubber ball.

Omens - Events or phenomena that some people believe tell the future.

Pictograph - A symbol that conveys meaning and has a resemblance to a physical object.

Pipiltin - The upper or noble class of the Aztec Empire. They held the top positions in the priesthood, military, and government.

Pochteca - A class of merchants that traveled long distances to bring luxury goods to the Aztecs. They were an important and respected class of people.

Pyramid - A building that has the general shape of a geometric pyramid with four sides on the bottom that taper to a point on top. Aztec pyramids were built with large steps and had a flat top. They were built as temples to their gods.

Sacrifice - An offering to the gods, usually food or an animal. The Aztecs also offered human sacrifices.

Smallpox - An infectious disease that often causes death.

Tenochtitlan - The capital city of the Aztec Empire.

Tlatoani - The king of a city-state, the word Tlatoani means "speaker". The emperor of the Aztec Empire was the Huey Tlatoani or "great speaker".

Tlaxcala - An enemy city-state to the Aztecs, the Tlaxcala allied with Cortes to conquer the Aztecs.

Toltecs - An early civilization that came before the Aztecs. The nobility claimed to be descendants of these legendary people.

Tribute - A tax paid by the city-states to the Aztec Emperor in the capital city of Tenochtitlan.

  • Timeline of the Aztec Empire
  • Daily Life
  • Government
  • Gods and Mythology
  • Writing and Technology
  • Society
  • Tenochtitlan
  • Spanish Conquest
  • Art
  • Hernan Cortes
  • Glossary and Terms
  • Maya
  • Timeline of Maya History
  • Daily Life
  • Government
  • Gods and Mythology
  • Writing, Numbers, and Calendar
  • Pyramids and Architecture
  • Sites and Cities
  • Art
  • Hero Twins Myth
  • Glossary and Terms
  • Inca
  • Timeline of the Inca
  • Daily Life of the Inca
  • Government
  • Mythology and Religion
  • Science and Technology
  • Society
  • Cuzco
  • Machu Picchu
  • Tribes of Early Peru
  • Francisco Pizarro
  • Glossary and Terms

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    History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids

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