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Word Count: 368
The Aztecs were the native American people whodominated northern Mxico at the time of the Spanishconquest led by Hernan Cortes in the early 16th centuryAccording to their own legends they originated from aplace called Aztlan somewhere in north or northwestMexico At that time the Aztecs who referred tothemselves as the Mexica or Tenochca were a smallnomadic Nahuatl-speaking aggregation of tribal peoplesliving on the margins of civilized Mesoamerica In the12th century they embarked on a period of wandering andin the 13th century settled in the central basin ofMxico Continually dislodged by the small city-statesthat fought one another in shifting alliances theAztecs finally found refuge on small islands in LakeTexcoco where in 1325 they founded the town ofTENOCHTITLAN modern-day Mexico City The term Aztecoriginally associated with the migrant Mexico is todaya collective term applied to all the peoples linked bytrade custom religion and language to these founders Fearless warriors and pragmatic builders theAztecs created an empire during the 15th century thatwas surpassed in size in the Americas only by that ofthe Incas in Peru As early texts and modern archaeologycontinue to reveal beyond their conquests and many oftheir religious practices there were many positivethe formation of a highly specialized and stratifiedsociety and an imperial administration the expansion of a trading network as well as athe development and maintenance of a sophisticatedagricultural economy carefully adjusted to the land the cultivation of an intellectual and religiousoutlook that held society to be an integral part ofThe yearly round of rites and ceremonies in thecities of Tenochtitlan and neighboring Tetzcoco andtheir symbolic art and architecture gave expression toan ancient awareness of the interdependence of natureThe Aztecs remain the most extensively documentedof all Amerindian civilizations at the time of Europeancontact in the 16th century Spanish friars soldiersand historians and scholars of Indian or mixed descentleft invaluable records of all aspects of life Theseethnohistoric sources linked to modern archaeologicalinquiries and studies of ethnologists linguistshistorians and art historians portray the formationand flourishing of a
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