For a long time, the Aztecs were always
on the move. No one wanted them as a neighbor. The other tribes kept
running them out. The Aztecs had hungry gods. To feed their hungry gods,
they captured people and killed them. This was not a happy situation for
the other tribes. They did not want the Aztecs living in their
The Aztecs had a
legend. They believed that one day they would spot an eagle, perched on
a cactus, holding a snake. When they saw this, it would be the signal
that they had found a place to call home. There, they would settle down
forever. Part of the legend was that their gods had told them to settle
down peacefully and build a capital city before they did anything
That's what they did.
One day, a priest saw an eagle, perched on a cactus, holding a snake in
its mouth! He could not believe his eyes. He ran back to the Aztec camp
to tell his people what he had seen. This happened in the Valley of
Mexico, along the swampy shores of Lake Texcoco.
Aztecs settled down. If you had never heard of the Aztecs, you might
think some very clever and peaceful people had moved into your neighbor.
You would have been right about the clever. The Aztecs were very clever
The first thing the
Aztec did was set up a system of free education. Boys and girls and
slaves and adults went to school. The Aztecs knew in order to settle
down successfully that they would need many engineers and builders and
They adapted to
their environment. They built canoes so they could hunt and fish. They
created medicines from the many plants they found in the area. They
created floating gardens for more places to grow food. They built dikes
to hold back water in the swampy areas, to free up land for agriculture
and building. They built their beautiful capital city on a
swamp, thanks to the skills of their engineers.
Capital City of Tenochtitlan