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Quiz about The Mighty Aztec Empire
Quiz about The Mighty Aztec Empire

The Mighty Aztec Empire Trivia Quiz


At its peak, the Aztecs ruled an empire of 500 towns and 5-6 million people in what is now Mexico. The capital was bigger than almost all cities in Europe at the time. Please take this quiz and find out more about them!
This is a renovated/adopted version of an old quiz by author Warzycha

A multiple-choice quiz by MikeMaster99. Estimated time: 3 mins.
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Author
MikeMaster99
Time
3 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
167,468
Updated
Jan 31 23
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
117
Last 3 plays: Guest 213 (6/10), Guest 24 (10/10), Guest 108 (2/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. Tenochtitlan was a city-state and the capital of the Aztec Empire. In which region of Mexico was it located? Hint

Gulf of Fonseca
Mexico City, on the elevated central plateau, was built on Tenochtitlan
Yucatan Peninsula
Gulf of Mexico near the modern city of Tampico

2. Chinampas were fertile gardens used to grow crops in Tenochtitlan. From where did the soil fertility arise? Hint

Mineral- and nutrient rich mud from the local lake
Llama carcasses were tilled into the soil
Very pure rainfall
Ceremonial blessings

3. What environmental problem required ingenious solution to enable the Aztec cities to thrive? Many modern cities face the same issue. Hint

Chronic overcrowding
Very poor air quality
The local water supply was largely brackish (salty)
Lack of trees for building supplies

4. The Aztec earth goddess, Coatlicue, had a double head of two snakes facing each other, and also snakes for arms, jaguar feet and a necklace of hearts and skulls.

True
False

5. The Aztecs were frequently at war. What usually happened to their prisoners? Hint

They were killed at the point of capture
They became slaves for the emperor
They were sacrificed
They were drafted into the army to replace soldiers who died

6. The Aztec 'army' would almost always pillage and destroy the villages of their enemies.

True
False

7. The Aztecs used cochineal to dye cloth a vivid red color. What did Aztec children often collect in the fields to make this dye? Hint

Earthworms
Beetles
Animal droppings
Poinsettia flowers

8. What was the severe punishment for a poor person caught wearing clothes that only the nobles were allowed to wear? Hint

Having their house demolished
3 months in prison
A large fine
Having one hand cut off

9. Aztec life was more than just warfare. Sport was also important. Ullamaliztli was a game similar to basketball but scoring (putting the ball through a vertical ring) was very difficult. Why? Hint

No hands were allowed
Shooters were blindfolded and relied on verbal cues
The shooter had to have their back to the ring
The ball was almost exactly the size of the ring

10. Which major 'event' in 1519 precipitated a very rapid decline of the Aztec Empire? Hint

A catastrophic earthquake
Arrival of the Spanish conquistadors
Revocation of all external trade agreements
Eruption of Mt PopocatÚpetl


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Tenochtitlan was a city-state and the capital of the Aztec Empire. In which region of Mexico was it located?

Answer: Mexico City, on the elevated central plateau, was built on Tenochtitlan

Although the year of founding of Tenochtitlan is uncertain (estimated as early-mid 14th century CE), it eventually grew to be the largest altepetl (city-state) in the Aztec Empire. Some references state the city was founded in 1325 but this was based on a 1925 declaration that the city (Tenochtitlan then Mexico City) was 600 years old. The city was originally built on a swampy island near the western shore of Lake Texcoco. The city expanded and by the time it was rebuilt over the period 1486-1502 after flooding of the lake, it had become one of the largest cities in the world. Estimates of the peak population vary significantly but range between 200,000 and 400,000 inhabitants.

Although Tenochtitlan is the most famous of the Aztec city-states, other major altepetl were also located around the lakes system of the elevated central Mexican plateau. These other cities included Tlacopan and Texcoco.
2. Chinampas were fertile gardens used to grow crops in Tenochtitlan. From where did the soil fertility arise?

Answer: Mineral- and nutrient rich mud from the local lake

Chimampas were small, rectangular floating islands in the shallow water regions of Lake Texcoco and the extensive surrounding lakes and wetlands. The islands were created by weaving reeds around stakes driven into the mud. More mud (lake sediment) was added to the buoyant reed mat to build up the level of soil.

As the sediment was rich in nutrients and minerals from decayed vegetation over previous years, this floating island, in combination with warm temperatures and copious sunlight, provided a fantastic environment to grow plants.

A range of crops were typically grown, mostly for food but some for decorative and other purposes. These plants included maize (corn), tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans and a variety of flowers.
3. What environmental problem required ingenious solution to enable the Aztec cities to thrive? Many modern cities face the same issue.

Answer: The local water supply was largely brackish (salty)

The series of lakes that make up the Texcoco system are endorheic, meaning inward draining; there is no outlet e.g. a river, to take lake water away. Hence over time the water becomes brackish through evaporation. All water bodies contain dissolved salts (in largely differing amounts), so when the water evaporates, the salts are left behind. This brackish water was too salty to drink but 'fresh' enough to grow crops. As Tenochtitlan grew, the demand for potable water also rose. The 'problem' was solved during the first half of the 15th century when a 12-16 km (7.5 to 10 mile) levee was constructed across a western section of the lake. On the east side of the levee was the brackish water but on the west side was the incoming fresh water, fed from springs.

Furthermore, spring water was conveyed to the city via two terra cotta aqueducts from what is now known as Chapultepec Hill. Spring water was preferred for drinking while the 'fresh' water west of the levee was used for washing.
4. The Aztec earth goddess, Coatlicue, had a double head of two snakes facing each other, and also snakes for arms, jaguar feet and a necklace of hearts and skulls.

Answer: True

The Aztec earth goddess, Coatlicue (Nahuatl: "Serpent Skirt"), also known as the Mother of the Gods, was soon to give birth to a baby who would grow up to become the sun. However, before the baby was born, out of jealousy Coatlicue was murdered by her daughter, the moon, and 400 of her sons, who were the stars. Immediately upon his mother's death, the baby boy was born, fully grown and powerful, and took revenge. From that day onwards, every dawn the sun drives the moon and the stars away from the sky.

There are several variations of this legend. In another version, the daughter and 400 sons were cast up into the sky to become the moon and stars.
5. The Aztecs were frequently at war. What usually happened to their prisoners?

Answer: They were sacrificed

Although there was no formal Aztec army, there were groups of warriors (often towns would provide 400 men) who would continually train for, and undertake, battles with the many indigenous groups opposed to the Aztecs. Twenty of these groups would then form a division of 8000 warriors. Large battles involved several divisions if not more. Warfare was an integral and important component of Aztec life with all males expected to play a role. Warfare was also closely associated with religion and the relationship with the sun god, Huitzilopochtli, who was also the god of war.

An important part of the worship of the sun god was ritual human sacrifice. Captured prisoners were sacrificed at Huitzilopochtli's Temple at the apex of the great pyramid, Templo Mayor, in Tenochtitlan. It was believed that the blood of the sacrifice kept the sun moving across the sky and hence had to be done very regularly. Warriors, especially successful ones, were highly esteemed in the hierarchy of Aztec society and was one method by which low-born citizens could 'climb the social ladder'.
6. The Aztec 'army' would almost always pillage and destroy the villages of their enemies.

Answer: False

Although captured enemy soldiers were often killed during sacrificial rites, the remaining townsfolk were often left to continue their lives. The major purpose of most Aztec military operations was to gain new territory and possibly open up more trading routes.

The Aztecs extracted 'tributes' in the form of goods from the captured lands. These goods could include cochineal, animals and animal skins, food, cacao (chocolate beans), weapons, rubber, building materials, cotton, gold dust and slaves. The tributes were then used to help sustain the populations of the large Aztec cities.

At the height of their empire, the Aztecs were extracting tributes from 38 subjugated provinces.
7. The Aztecs used cochineal to dye cloth a vivid red color. What did Aztec children often collect in the fields to make this dye?

Answer: Beetles

The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word for cochineal was 'nocheztli' derived from a conjunction of nochtli (cactus) and eztli (blood). Children would collect the female cochineal beetles (Dactylopius coccus) found on prickly pear cactus plants. The beetles were then crushed and ground to extract the red dye.

The actual dye molecule is carmine, a moderately high molecular weight (492 g/mol) anthroquinone complex, although the impure cochineal material was also a similar color. It has been estimated that the Aztecs needed approximately 150,000 of these beetles to produce just 1 kg (2.2 lb) of dye.

The dye was used by Mayans and Aztecs and their predecessors and was also popular in Peru. Estimates date its first usage back to 200 BC or even earlier.

It became extremely popular when introduced to Europe by the Spanish during the 16th century.
8. What was the severe punishment for a poor person caught wearing clothes that only the nobles were allowed to wear?

Answer: Having their house demolished

Aztec society was very structured, based on well-defined classes and citizens were required to wear status-specific clothes. Only the upper class (pipiltin) were allowed to wear "rich" clothing. If you were poor and caught wearing such extravagant garments, your house would be knocked down; a second offence resulted in execution. This strict social hierarchy was much admired by the Spanish.
9. Aztec life was more than just warfare. Sport was also important. Ullamaliztli was a game similar to basketball but scoring (putting the ball through a vertical ring) was very difficult. Why?

Answer: No hands were allowed

Although the idea of shooting a ball through a ring suggests basketball, the game was much more challenging. The hard rubber ball, the Ulli, which weighed around 4 kg (9 lb), was not allowed to touch the ground. Nor could hands be used at all, only head, elbows, knees and hips. Players wore deer-skin guards as contact with the ground and walls was commonplace. The tlachtli (court) was typically 33 - 66 m (100 - 200 ft) long and was surrounded by walls upon which the spectators viewed the action. Gambling, often with very high stakes, was common and matches often represented fierce regional rivalries. There was an added incentive to win for the players, as often the losing team also lost their heads!

Like much of Aztec life, there was a strong religious element to the game where the ball represented the sun and the battle between night and day. However, the game itself predated the Aztecs, likely being played by the much earlier Olmec civilization around 1500 BC. The Mayans also played a variety of this game. Today there is some uncertainty about the detailed rules of Ullamaliztli, but a modern version, called Ulama exists and is played in Mexico. A key difference is that now the losers shake hands with the winners and try again next time!
10. Which major 'event' in 1519 precipitated a very rapid decline of the Aztec Empire?

Answer: Arrival of the Spanish conquistadors

Hernan CortÚs set off for Mexico with 11 ships and 600 men and arrived there in 1519. Within 2 years, the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma was captured then killed in June 1520 (by whom is still a matter of debate) and on 13th August 1521, Emperor Cuauhtemoc was captured and the Aztec forces surrendered; the Empire was largely destroyed. Several factors were involved including the introduction of disease (notably smallpox) to the native population with no natural immunity, Spanish firearms and assistance from many of the neighbouring tribes (including Cempoalans and Tlaxcaltecs) who were at war with the Aztecs.

Historian Caroline Dodds dismisses as apocryphal the oft-told story that the Aztecs believed Cortes was the 'feathered serpent god' Quetzalcoatl, who would bring peace to Mexico.
www.historyextra.com/period/tudor/hernan-cortes-montezuma-tenochtitlan-aztec-conquest-conquistadors/
Source: Author MikeMaster99

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor gtho4 before going online.
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