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The Aztecs:  The War Machine
was a fabulous city of the Aztec Empire.  It was much cleaner than any city in Europe at the time.  The city was built on a small, snake infested  island in the middle of a lake. The Aztecs have a legend which explains why they chose this remote and unhealthy site upon which to build thier capital.
An Eagle, sitting on a cactus eating a snake.  This was the prophecy from the Aztec gods.  This spot would become thier homeland.  The Aztec travelled in the desert as nomads for many years before finding such a site. The island became their home because the surrounding tribes that shared the lake's many resources, found the Aztecs to be blood thirsty, barbaric, and violently psychotic people.  They simply refused to let them live anywhere else.
The Aztec were oftene used as mercenary forces by these tribes in thier many disputes.  The Aztec became fierce warriors due to this.  It gave them a chance to take ceremonial captives and to flex thier military muscles.  Over time, they became such great warriors that they were able to conquer thier neighbors outright.  This was the beginning of a long reign of dominance over what is now central Mexico.
The Aztec created this city as a fortress, but there are also many religious and domestic buildings located among the sprawling metropolis.  The Spaniards who saw it for the first time in the 16th century were amazed at it's size and glory.  However, this was not enought to keep them from destroying it.  The Spanish leveled the city.  Mexico City is built on the cite of ancient Tenochtitlán and still, today there is an occasional discovery of pyramid foundations when city workers, digging water lines or rebuilding roads, come across massive stone structures beneath the ground.  The lake has been drained, but the city still waters the economy that grows in Mexico.

See these areas for more information:
Aztec Pyramids and Buildings
Aztec Mythology
Aztec War Tactics
Aztec Culture and History
Aztec Cool Links