Ancient Aztecs by Karen Latchana Kenney

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By Karen Latchana Kenney

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Slaves were also commonly sold in markets. Long-distance trading was also an important aspect of the Aztecs’ economy. Traders, called pochteca, traveled to areas far outside the empire’s lands on trading missions. Some were regular traders, others were commissioned by rulers for their personal business, others dealt only with slaves, and some acted as spies for the rulers. The Aztecs set up trading centers in towns around Trader-spies Marketplaces were also centers of gossip. Some traders, called the naualoztomeca, acted as spies along their trading routes.

Four days of feasting followed the marriage ceremony, and elders counseled the bride and groom. Once married, the husband and wife had clearly defined roles. The man was the head of the family, but women were regarded as equals. While men worked in their trades, women held mostly domestic roles. They could not speak publicly or have the careers men had, but they did have a level of independence. Female commoners wove cloth to sell at the market and to be given for their family’s tribute. A wife ground maize for five to six hours a day to feed her family.

Students learned how the Aztec calendar worked and about the many religious festivals and ceremonies. They also learned reading, astronomy, history, math, architecture, agriculture, basic law, and warfare. LANGUAGE AND SCRIBES The written form of Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, consisted of hieroglyphics and other symbols. Scribes worked for palaces, law courts, temples, schools, and trading centers. They wrote on folding amatl paper manuscripts and used numbers, figures, date signs, and hieroglyphics.

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