Arts Curriculum

The Aztec Empire

October 15, 2004 – February 13, 2005


Cacao Chocolate.

Calpulli (cal-PUL-li) A form of kin-based communal living practiced in Tenochtitlan.

Causeways Raised roads or pathways across water.

Chinampas (chi-NAM-pahs) Aztec floating gardens made from reclaimed swampland.

Codex An Aztec book of picture symbols. The plural is codices.

Empire A group of countries or states, ruled by a single government or emperor.

Glyph A picture symbol standing for a word or idea.

Huitzilopochtli (huit-zi-lo-POCHT-li) Sun god and god of war.

Maguey (MA-guey) A type of cactus plant that provided cloth and food for the Aztecs.

Mesoamerica Term used to describe the central region of the Americas inhabited by native civilizations before the arrival of the Spanish.

Mexicas (Mah-SHEE-kahs) People of the Aztec empire.

Mictlantecihtli (mict-lan-te-CUH-tli) Lord of Mictlan, the underworld.

Mosaic A design make from small pieces of stone or colored glass.

Motecuhzoma II (mo-te-cuh-ZO-ma) The ninth Aztec ruler at the time of the Conquest.

Noble A person of high birth, such as a lord.

Nahuatl (NAH-hua-tl) The language spoken by the Aztecs and still spoken today by some groups of Central Highland Mexico. Avocado (aguacatl) and tomato (tomatl) are Nahuatl words.

Naturalistic The suggestion, in a work of art, of the direct observation of a scene or figure.

Obsidian Hard volcanic glass that the Aztecs used for weapon blades.

Precolumbian The period of time before the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1492.

Quetzalcoatl (quet-zal-CO-a-tl) “Feathered serpent,” important pan-Mesoamerican deity.

Sacrifice To kill an animal or person as an offering to the gods.

Scribe A person who writes documents and books by hand.

Stylized The simplification or generalization of forms found in nature.

Templo Mayor (TEM-plo may-OR) The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan (Te-noch-TIT-lan) The capital city of the Aztec empire.

Tlaloc (TLA-loc) God of rain.

Tribute A type of tax paid in food and other goods.

Underworld The place where the Aztecs believed people went when they died.

Xipe Totec (Shee-pe TOH-tec) God of renewal and rebirth.