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By Karen Latchana Kenney

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Thirteen layers made up the heavens, with the god Ometeotl ruling over the universe. The sun, moon, stars, comets, and winds occupied lower heavens. The earth sat in between the heavens and underworlds. Below the earth were nine underworlds. Souls had to pass through the layers to reach their final resting place. AZTEC PRIESTS Since religion was so important to the Aztecs’ culture, Aztec priests held positions of power with great responsibility. A massive statue of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, is on display at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

This was a group of families that collectively owned land. Many calpulli were part of a city, called an altepetl. 1 These calpulli leaders were members of the altepetl’s council. From that council, four members formed a higher council. Its leader was the altepetl’s tlatoani, the highest leader of the city. The tlatoani served in his position for life. The empire itself was an alliance between the three city-states— Tenochtitlán, Texcoco, and Tlacopan—with Tenochtitlán as the dominant arm of the alliance.

Montezuma ate at a table covered with a white tablecloth using white napkins. These were luxuries no commoner could afford. reused architectural styles from neighboring peoples and predecessors to show their power, especially from the great empire of Teotihuacán. Laws prohibited commoners from building homes more than one story tall. Their homes contained two or three rooms built around a central courtyard. indd 57 10/28/14 1:33 PM were built from wattle and daub, a construction method using mud and sticks.

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